Second time around
Success comes for painter after business career
— It took Don Shoffner almost 30 years to pursue his art professionally.
But perhaps it’s better late than never for Shoffner, who is now an award-winning watercolorist.
This month, Shoffner’s serene images of barns, boats and country still lifes appear at The Palette & The Page gallery in downtown Elkton. Shoffner’s paintings are on display alongside mixed media works from Deborah Arnold in the exhibition “Layered Landscapes.”
Although Shoffner long held an interest in art, he put art on hold to pursue a career in marketing. He graduated from West Chester University, where he studied textile design at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences.
After working in the business world, he finally decided to “give this art thing a try” in 2003. He approached his new career by drawing up a business plan. Once he
built up enough work, he entered juried art shows. He said his success was serendipitous.
His work is now for sale in several local galleries, and he is represented in corporate and private collections throughout the United States. He has been a participant in numerous group shows and associations in Pennsylvania and New England, including Chester County Art Association, Buck Hill Falls Fine Arts Festival, Duxbury Art Association, North River Arts Society, Yellow Springs and Daylesford Abbey.
He finds inspiration “just driving around.” He grew up in Chester County, Pa., and now the area’s familiar old buildings and barns fill his works. He also has a place on Massachusetts’ South Shore, so boats, lobsters and seascapes also show up in his paintings.
Working in watercolor and India ink, his works depict fall and winter scenes. He favors those seasons because the foliage doesn’t get in the way of his view, he explained. Although his paintings are presented in subdued colors, he will keep pops of color in his works – red barns, green grass, pink clouds.
Each day, he does some- Don Shoffner grew up in Chester County, Pa., amid the old buildings and barns that often show up in his work.
thing related to his art – sometimes that’s a sketch, sometimes a business spreadsheet. He has a friend with a frame shop, so he frames each piece himself, and he said he believes choosing the right frame is an integral part of the artwork. When he encounters “painters block” he will still try to create. That’s usually when he works on his small paintings of fishing flies, a way to share his love of fishing.
His work is “painfully realistic,” he said, and he is dedicated to capturing or recreating a scene down to the texture of stone found on a barn. However, he said viewers are often surprised when they study his paintings up close and see he didn’t capture every blade
He will sometimes work from a photo, but will also paint or sketch outside.
“I can’t do a scene unless I really have a feel for it,” he said.
While his work stays true to what he sees, his personal collection is filled with abstract and expressionist works from artists he knew.
Although his career kept him from art for several decades, he said he recognizes it also gave him the financial stability to pursue art later in life.
Today, he said he’s just excited when someone compliments or buys his work.
“I just look for a few kind words,” he said.
“Layered Landscapes” will be on display through April 29. The event is free and works are also for sale in the gallery. The Palette & The Page is located at 120 E. Main St. in Elkton. For more information, contact 410-398-3636 or visit thepaletteandthepage.com.
Working in watercolor and India ink, Don Shoffner’s works depict fall and winter scenes in their subdued hues.
Watercolor “All the Angles” is among the works of Don Shoffner on display at The Palette & The Page.