Penny Forrest




I seek beauty in the mundane tasks and clutter of daily life and strive to share my vision of the world with other like minded souls.




Many artists strive to capture the beauty of the world around them, but my intent is to do more than that.  My work is an invitation to slow down, look around, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us daily in our busy and cluttered lives.


I was born in the San Francisco Bay area.  And because my father was a pilot, I had the incredible opportunity to travel frequently with my family.  My mother was originally from Denmark, so my family would take yearly trips there - often exploring Europe as well.  I was sure to carry my sketchbook along on all of my travels.  I remember catching one perfect drawing of a Parthenon in Greece.  It was then that I thought, Maybe I could do this.  Having a pilot for a father allowed me some unique opportunities.  On occasion my dad would wake me early in the morning, telling me to pack a bag and we’d head to New York.  He would fly the plane, and I would ride in the cockpit.


Traveling the world provided me with many rich experiences, but today I find myself increasingly inspired by the everyday and ordinary.  I seek beauty in the mundane tasks and clutter of daily life—the little things we take for granted can mean the most.  There’s beauty to be found everywhere if we just look.  Because of this perspective, I like to work with a variety of subject matter from interiors, to landscapes, to figurative pieces.  I enjoy capturing figures at work and interiors with collections of mundane objects piled or dropped on the floor.  But I also appreciate the chaos of nature and can easily find the beauty there.


My artistic aspirations began at a young age.  I don’t remember ever not being able to draw.   As far back as I can recall, I wanted to be a painter.  Around the age of eleven I read a biographical novel about Michelangelo.  I was so inspired by his being ambidextrous that I taught myself to write with both hands.  To this day I still paint two handed.


I attended high school and junior college at the same time thanks to my mother’s insistence that I take summer school.  I took every art class that I could manage.  After graduating high school early, I spent a summer at art school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  But as I began to think about attending college, I lost faith in myself and thought I would not be able to make a living as a painter.  At the time, I felt my parents would be wasting their money putting me through college.  Instead, I went to work for various engineers and architects putting my drawing skills to use.


Over the years computers were transforming the work in those fields, and I used my drawing and painting skills to produce photographic simulations.  I have an unusual skill set in that I can read complex engineering or architectural plans and translate that into a digital photorealistic rendering.  My renderings would illustrate what a new highway would look like or what visual impact a proposed shopping center might have.


As the years went on, I began to focus more on my true passion, painting.  For many years I worked with oil using cold wax and palette knives to achieve the texture that I desired.  Later, I began experimenting with acrylics and found that due to the shorter drying time I could respond faster to my painting.  Heavy bodied acrylics hold up to texturing and provide me with a deep base to build on.


My artistic process is somewhat like a complicated crossword puzzle, although it’s even more complex than that.  I start out covering the canvas with black paint.  This part of the process can be very visceral.  I use a variety of tools as well as my hands to do this.  After I am satisfied with the texture, I begin to sketch roughly with white pencil.  Paint starts going on from dark to light.  I can’t rush this, can’t anticipate the light.  My paintings take many, many layers of color with the lightest being last.


In most cases, the concept for my painting begins with a one-line story.  After enjoying a cup of tea at my daughter's house, I was inspired to paint a piece that I titled “The Turquoise Pillow: At Shangri LaLa we take our tea with nettles from the garden.”  And after finding beauty in an unlikely place, a bathroom, I created a piece I titled “The Blue Room: At Shangri LaLa we always take our probiotics.”  People seem to really relate to the little stories in my titles.  The titles invite them to interact and create their own stories, comparing them to their lives.


Beginning with a story and often a touch a humor, I take ordinary and sometimes mundane subject matter and create vibrant and powerful compositions that demonstrate the beauty in our day to day lives.  We all work to hard and struggle to find the time to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around us.  I want my work to remind people that there is more to life.



All content © 2015