A Look into the Life of Artist Shannon Gronowski
By Jessica McAnally, Photography by Jim Peterson
The artistic spirit can arise at unexpected times from unanticipated places. This is precisely the case with Shannon Gronowski. Though she has now experienced what it is like to create art in many of its forms, her transition from part time to full time artist came as something of a surprise. After discovering her creative passions while attending college for a medical degree, she has embraced life as an artist and has shared her various pieces with clients and admirers in a variety of places.
Gronowski was born in North Dakota, where she met her husband of 33 years, Rob. The couple has two boys. The family moved to Idaho 26 years ago, and has lived in Eagle 25 years.
Gronowski discovered her passion for art in college. She began school with the intent of pursuing a degree in the medical field. However, she ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
“I didn’t know I was artistic,” said Gronowski. “In college, you have to take humanities classes, so I took an art class, and it was amazing. I took another and another, and pretty soon my advisor said we should talk about what major I really wanted to be in.”
Although she earned an art degree, it was not Gronowski’s only occupation. For 16 years, she worked at United Airlines. “I had the job with consistent income, but I still maintained my art,” said Gronowski. “I started my own business when my kids were 6 and 8 called Artistic Flair. For 21 years, I’ve painted windows, murals, and done faux painting.”
This isn’t the full extent of Gronowski’s experience. She has also taught private art classes and ran the Art Parent program at Eagle Hills Elementary. At one point, she even had a small studio in downtown Eagle. She’s painted everything from the windows of Doug’s Burger Den to the end zones at Eagle High School.
Gronowski is always looking to grow in her experience and become a better artist. Her most memorable and educational piece was a drawing she did in college. “It was a pencil charcoal combo of two men sitting outside on the porch of an older building,” said Gronowski. “It was a project that our teacher had assigned to us.”
She put over 20 hours on the drawing, adding detail and shading. “When we got to class the teacher took all of our drawings and put them up,” said Gronowski. “One by one, he took them and tore them up.”
It was a very poignant moment in her education. Her professor explained that the reason behind the destruction of these pieces was that he never wanted his students to think that they had achieved their best. “He wanted us to grow with everything we did,” said Gronowski.
When asked what art means to her, she simply says “freedom.” This seems unusual, since much of her work is done for clients.
“I do a lot of drawing and painting for customers, and someone else is usually picking my subject,” she explains. But in her own artistic pursuirs, she still has creative liberty with her subjects, which means that she can just be free with her imagination.
The simple reason Gronowski creates is for the happiness her art gives. “It’s a smile,” said Gronowski. “If you can create a piece of artwork and someone looks at it and smiles, that’s the best you can ask for.”
“My dad taught me as a kid that every day you should give something away, and the easiest thing to give away is a smile,” Gronowski added. “Usually, you will get something back, and most of the time it’s a smile in return.”
Written for Eagle Magazine‘s January/February 2016 Issue