Meet the Artist

Shelly Wierzba

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a very creative family. My mom was a widely known impressionist oil painter and a member of the Palo Alto Art Club. My dad’s creativity was in the engineering field, and I believe I developed my “what if” outlook to life’s challenges thanks to his curiosity and ingenuity.

Initially, I chose the scientific field as a vocation and led a fulfilling career as an acute care and emergency room respiratory therapist for eighteen years, then returned to school to become a physician assistant. After my retirement, I picked up a paintbrush and followed in my mom’s footsteps full time, where I found my true passion in the arts.

Path of Discovery

My fine art journey began in watercolor on the Oregon Coast, where I became a juried member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon and the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies. However, after a brief foray into acrylics and mixed media creations, my eye quickly turned to the more additive/subtractive method of painting with oils. 

I was (and still am) inspired by many contemporary artists and the Russian Impressionists. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the paintings by Sergei Bongardt when I first encountered him. I loved the heavy texture of his paint, the color, and the way his work seemed to flow from his history and personality. Some of the contemporary Russian impressionists leave an air of mystery in their work that always speaks to me. The semi-abstraction that is included in a painting can reveal the heart and soul of the artist who is behind the brush.

En Plein Air

On the coast, I began painting on location, “en plein air,” and that continued when I moved east of the Cascades to Bend, Oregon.

Most of my large studio paintings start out from a plein air painting experience. Occasionally, I will use a small painting and maybe a photo or two of the area to paint a larger piece. I think of my plein air paintings as information gathering in nature. To capture the likeness of what I find in nature, there must be more than just visual information. By painting on-site, I am able to feed all of my senses. Back in the studio, I can remember the feel of the breeze, the scent of a river or field, and the sounds of the birds and the wind. My challenge is to paint those sensory feelings into each piece.

When painting, head and heart come together producing the first hint of an idea. My eye and soul lie in wait for emotions that demand expression in shapes, lines, and movement. Then the act of painting begins.

Recent Events

Rimrock Art Gallery

After a successful Small Works Showcase this past fall at Rimrock Art Gallery in Prineville, Oregon, I have been graciously invited back to be a guest artist in the gallery. An opening reception was on Saturday, January 11th and a select number of my paintings will remain there on display over the next few months.

Where:  Rimrock Art Gallery, 405A NW 3rd St, Prineville, OR

Shelly’s work has been featured at:

Contact Shelly

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or gallery inquiries. I will respond to your message within 24 hours.