Penney De Pas
Ever since I could hold a stubby crayon in my hand as a child, I always loved coloring and art. At 12 years old, my parents enrolled me in an oil painting class, but the painting of a fairy of which I had been so proud “disappeared” after the art exhibit where it had been displayed.
By the time I reached high school and visited art museums, however, I concluded I would never be “good enough” as an artist, so I stopped making art and spent my time studying and admiring art by others. I majored in art history, managed arts organizations, organized exhibits, coached other artists, and was a partner in a gallery with five other artists.
My great-great uncle and great-grandfather were both Victorian watercolorists of the Romantic style during the mid-nineteenth century. Landcapes by them both graced my maternal grandparents’ and parents’ homes. In late 2001/early 2002 while researching my great-great uncle’s paintings for appraisal purposes, I discovered that he had actually made somewhat of a name for himself as an English Impressionist with the Staithes Group and several of his works hang in museums in the Manchester, England, area.
Shortly thereafter, in spring 2002, my work hours were reduced and I had the opportunity to take a watercolor class at Sertoma Arts Center—just for fun. But by the time the class started in July, I had lost a dear friend—an advocate for my arts efforts—to cancer. A month later another dear friend, and strong supporter of people’s hobbies, had also died of cancer. My art took on a more important aspect: it became an expression of, and healing for, my grief at losing two of my peers.
After taking two watercolor classes with Julie Alexander at Sertoma, I also took some drawing classes with Cynthia Mounts which I retook with Cheryl Brown several years later, and found myself doing portraits. I have also taken watercolor classes with Paul Jackson at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA, at the NC Botanic Gardens, and with Rick Bennett, Ryan Fox, Kate Lagaly, and Janie Johnson at Pullen and Sertoma Arts Center plus several workshops through Art in the Carolinas. I held my first show at Fine Arts Framing a year after I began painting and sold seven paintings!
In 2014, I was commissioned to paint a 7’ x 10’ mural, and thus I began to study acrylics, Now, I alternate between watercolors, charcoals, acrylics, and Chinese brush painting, a new interest begun in 2018.
For many of the past eighteen years, I worked with a number of “painting buddies”—fellow artists who have also been encouraged to exhibit by my own success. In 2019, two of my paintings were juried into a national art show in Raleigh.