Factory Works Gallery invites you to “Solo,” an exhibition of oil paintings by Williamsport artist and Pajama Factory tenant Holly Patton Shull, Friday through Sept. 28, at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., Studio 10 in Williamsport. The exhibition begins with an opening reception 6-9 p.m. Friday.
Shull has been an active and important member of Williamsport’s arts community for years. She will be moving to Kentucky after the show closes, so it will serve as her goodbye and a retrospective of the past 20 years of her work.
The show will feature, in addition to new work, a retrospective of the work she has created over the years ranging from, as she describes them, “Pen and ink commercial illustrations to oil narratives of ourselves and our environments.”
Shull comes from an artistic family, as her father, Earl Patton, was an animator for Disney and Warner Brothers in the late 1930s and ’40s. His oldest brother, Bernard, a life-long painter, trained at New York Arts Student League. Shull’s sister, Deane Patton, is an accomplished illustrator and photographer; and she has a cousin, Jeneieve McDonald, in St. Augustine, who also is a painter.
“I knew from the time that I was 12 years old when I walked into my uncle’s painting studio, that I loved oils,” she said. “I didn’t have the courage to pick up the brush until my forties but have not been able to put it down since. Maybe I had to wait that long before I had something to say that suited this very old art form.”
Shull studied art in college and was primarily an illustrator until her first oil painting. She has since studied painting under the care of many accomplished artists over the last 20 plus years.
In 2013, Shull moved her studio from her home to the Pajama Factory. She typically schedules one to two regional shows per year.
“Last year, I realized that I had not yet shown at the Factory Works Gallery — being my ‘home,’ it felt right,” she said. “It is a beautiful and spacious gallery.”
Each new exhibit is inspiration for Shull for producing work. Since she retired last fall, she was up to the challenge of the space.
“I spoke with Ralph Wilson and he was happy to have me in for September,” she said. “Little did I know that it would be my ‘swan song,’ as I prepare to relocate to Kentucky in October.”
Shull primarily works in oils on stretched canvas, although she has experimented with different ground, with a painting on masonite for this show. She will sometimes pull in other media, such as fabric, paper and found objects relative to the subject.
“I just paint that stuff right in,” she said. “People often ask what I like to paint. I paint of humanity — the human condition and environments. The face, the body, emotions and spirituality. It turns me on to explore, through the beautiful colors, what goes on around and inside of us.”
Since February, Shull has created twelve new works for “Solo.” As an illustrator, Shull used primarily pen and ink and occasional colored pencil. The paintings speak to her of transition, both personally and of the times we live in.
“I wanted to push my comfort zones by letting loose of my sense of realism and still retain an emotional cohesion — a body of work,” she said. Having worked as a commercial illustrator after studying art in college, Shull first picked up oil painting in 1996. She has also included a trajectory of her artistic development over her 28 years in Williamsport.
“I began as a freelancer with several local clients and picked up the brush in 1996,” she said. “It is all here — from pen and ink commercial illustration to oil narratives of ourselves and our environments; about 25 works in all.”
For Shull, painting is a form of meditation and more. It connects the life that she lives to the universe, and she views herself as a conduit for the expressions that come from the greater inspiration.
“I often wonder what the paintings mean and very much enjoy exploring that thought with people who view my art,” she said. “My hope is to expand venues both national and international and continue to be prolific for many years. If I leave an intellectual or emotional impression with those that spend some time with my paintings, I am indeed a successful artist.”