Shawna Gilmore

Born and raised in the Upper Midwest, Shawna draws deep from the winter-forged well of her overactive imagination. Her narrative, vintage and folk-style paintings explore many topics such as science, metaphors, nature, humor, patterns, paradoxes, fairytales and a wide variety of musings on domestic subjects. Shawna graduated in 2000 from the University of Minnesota - Duluth with a BFA in Studio Art, Emphasis on Drawing and Printmaking. She has exhibited both locally and nationally. Shawna lives with her verbally talented husband(Eddy), their twins and a menagerie of critters in a lively neighborhood near lovely Lake Superior.


My surrealistic and narrative work explores a wide variety of themes from personal observations to otherworldly dreams. Fueled by an insatiable love of fantasy, science fiction, and folklore, storytelling is central to the way I approach a painting. Every painting is like a page in a book, waiting for the viewer to fill in the plot.

Characters in my images often encounter scenarios that are both playful and poignant. I find this tension to be most accurate to my life experience. Raising a family has particularly heightened my awareness of this reality. Seldom does a day pass without my children jarring the heavy moments of my mind with their curiosity, creativity, humor, and basic needs.  

With a strong affection for vintage photography, I frequently use these stoic-faced images as source material. Ever since I was little I have been drawn to these strange and ancient-looking people who seem to transport me to another time and space. I imagine their lives, who they were, or what they were doing. The timelessness of vintage portraiture provides mythical characters for my paintings that are rooted in history.

I paint primarily in acrylics on cradled wood panels. I am partial to the hard, durable, flat surface of wood. I also appreciate the history and life, evident with each grain. Just knowing those years of growth lay beneath the paint gives me pause. My rather impatient personality enjoys acrylics for their quick drying time and ability to be rapidly reworked.

Through painting, I have found ways of escaping, if only for a moment, to laugh, ponder, or dream. Escaping is a breath that fills our lungs and eases our burdens. My paintings give you permission to jump through a portal, imagine new places, and limber up your thinking.