Danny Owens
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Blog

This is a blog of New York based photographer Danny Owens. Featuring interviews with artists, makers, and creatives as well as showcasing recent photography work.

Shannon Heath

Ever since I first visited Portland I knew it was a place of creativity. The sheer amount of enthusiasm and ingenuity that radiated off of those who called this city home was inescapable.

Thats why I knew at some point in my life I needed to call Portland home as well.

Around 4 years later I now do. Since settling in I haven't stopped being inspired and being motivated to keep up with the pace of creativity that is all around me. But I've also been motivated to get to know others that are creating all sorts of work around me, and thats what led me to this day with Shannon.

After scrolling through a nearby location tag on Instagram I came across her paintings and jumped right at the chance to get to know her more. With a simple conversation we set up a time to visit her studio and for me to capture some moments with my camera.

Scroll through the following images and read some questions I asked her below, her work is captivating and I'm sure you'll be just as inspired as I was.


First I want to know about your personal story, about where you came from and where you are now...

Where did you grow up? Where did you live?

"I was born in a small town called Temora in rural New South Wales, Australia. When I was about five, we moved to Wagga, a city close by where I lived until I was 11. My Dad took a job in Sydney so we moved there when I was in the sixth grade. It was a tough age to move away and there were definitely tears, but I remember feeling excited by the possibilities of a new city. I grew up in the Hills district in Sydney, your typical suburbia. When I was old enough to fly the coop, I lived in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs and Inner West and a short stint on the Central Coast. I always loved living by the ocean. I moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2011 to be reunited with my lover (now husband) after a year juggling a long distance romance. We lived in Melbourne for the next four years until we relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2015."

Whats your story of becoming an artist?

"I've been a creative for as long as I can recall. My earliest memory was spending hours perfecting drawings to submit to our local cartoon station. I remember art class in primary school we had to replicate Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. While I don't agree with replicating a person’s work, it did provide me with an insight into the art world. A world where I felt at home. I fell in love. It wasn't until high school where I realized my passion could become a very realistic career opportunity. At the time though, I didn't believe I could make a living from being a painter so I chose to complete a Bachelor of Design degree at University. I majored in Graphics, Illustration and Photography and took my first role as Design Assistant for a women's clothing brand. Over the next 10 years I carved a successful career working for renowned and iconic fashion brands creating commercial artwork for apparel. It wasn't until I relocated to Portland when I began to pursue painting full time. By committing to my art form on a daily basis, I discovered my true purpose."

As an artist I'm sure there are so many outside influencers and encounters that find themselves into your work, I'd love to hear about some of them...

Who are your favorite artists?

"Some greats who inspired me early on were Egon Shiele, Margaret Woodward, Brett Whiteley, John Olsen, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Robert Moore...and more recently Ingrid Knuti, Lola Donoghue, Jai Vasiceck, Diana Miller, Carly Williams, Jordana Henry...ahh there's too many to list!"

What inspires your color palettes?

"I always create mood boards with magazine clippings, paint chips and photos of travels to help identify the colour palette I intend to work with. When I worked in the fashion industry, the colour palettes were always so heavily influenced by runway, street style and trend. Now, my approach is much more intuitive and comes directly from my experiences. 
I feel a deep connection to the sundrenched pastel hues of the desert landscape. I've always been obsessed with toning making faded, pastel fluro tones. I feel like my colour palettes are always evolving, however there is definitely a common thread. And you can never have enough white paint!"

In what ways do you try to push the boundaries of your art?

"I like to practice my form but I welcome the unexpected results also. I work quite spontaneously, often throwing myself into the piece, quite literally using my hands or elbows if I can't find the right tool. I often use non traditional painting tools like sticks or blunt pencils. The key for me is remaining open and allowing myself to do what feels right in the moment."

How has being a mom changed your artistic process?

"Before you're a parent you have so much time for yourself. Complete freedom to do whatever you want, when you want. Since becoming a Mother I have learned to be resourceful and flexible with my time, and I make every minute of studio time count. "

What has been your proudest moment being an artist?

"Probably when my hero, my niece Harlee said she wanted to grow up and be an artist like her Auntie. "

Now as I call Portland my new home, I love hearing how others call it home and what parts of the city they truly love...

What made you want to call Portland home?

"My husband works for Nike so when the opportunity arose we took the leap and relocated. I feel as though it’s got a similar vibe to Melbourne in Australia. In terms of US cities Portland is fairly progressive, and I’ve come across some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met here. The Summer’s here truly are incredible."

If a friend was visiting Portland what would be the top 5 spots you would make sure they hit?

"It's hard to narrow it down to 5 but I'll try! Eat a grilled cheese at The Grill Cheese Grill in NE Portland. They are bomb. We get no butter and no oil, it's seriously just as good. See a band at the Crystal Ballroom. Grab a coffee at Stumptown and sit on the big green couch in the foyer of the Ace Hotel and read the paper. Get lost wandering in Forest Park in the NW Portland. If you have wheels, take a drive up to Trillium Lake. It's frozen in the winter and is still amazing but it is seriously breathtaking in the summer."

Thanks so much Shannon!!

I truly hope you all have been enjoying these artist interviews as much as I have!

If you have any suggestions for individuals to shoot and interview, please shoot me an email at hello@dannyowens.co