Featured Artist: Lynnette Shelley
Lynnette Shelley

We didn't really need to look twice to realize that Lynnette Shelley's The Mosquito would work perfectly to illustrate Mari Ness's Love in the Absence of Mosquitoes. There are, of course, mosquitoes and pod-like forms in Lynnette's piece, which were obvious selling points, but there's quite a bit more. The work captures not only the sense of stylized formality, the static beauty of the world featured in the story, but also a feeling of organic interrelatedness. As with Mari's story, there's an initial sense of simplicity. But the more we looked at both the story and artwork, the more we noticed the subtle elements that made both such rich experiences. So we were quite happy when Lynnette agreed to let us use the piece. We're proud to make her the featured artist for this issue.

Bernie: My first exposure to your art was the cover of the CD Fossil Eyes, by your band The Red Masque. And that piece is actually The Mosquito, which you were kind enough to let us use to illustrate Mari Ness's story. I'm curious whether you see any influence of your music on your art, and/or of your art on your music. And if so, can you tell us a little about that?
The Mosquito by Lynnette Shelley

Lynnette: I actually originally formed The Red Masque when I was going through a dry spell with my artwork. I was working a day job at the time, and wasn’t really setting aside the time to pursue my artwork. I was also concentrating more on getting the Red Masque up and running and I didn’t really have time for anything else. However, several years ago things changed. I left my practical day job to pursue working for myself and having an art career. Since then I work on artwork almost every single day and am addicted to it. I can’t imagine stopping at this point. As such, it’s inevitable that it has overflowed somewhat into the music. Some of the themes I have been researching for artworks have cropped up again in the lyrics I am working on for the band. Though I still consider my artwork to be very different from the band’s music — for one thing, the band is a group effort, whereas the artwork is an individual creation.Impala by Lynnette Shelley

: I see a lot of Gustaf Klimpt in the design elements of your work. I was wondering if he is one of your influences. What other artists and/or teachers inspire you?

Lynnette: Yes, good eye. Klimt is one of my favorite artists. Other big influences include Celtic art, as well as byzantine and icon style artworks. I love the various native / folk artworks of various indigenous cultures, and the stylized patterns and imagery found in Japanese art.
Some artist I admire also include: Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, William Blake, Frida Kahlo, Marc Chagall, Henri Rousseau, Edvard Munch, William Morris, Susan Seddon Boulet, Jim Fitzpatrick and Walton Ford.

Linda: Where else do you look for inspiration and to inform your work? Animals are obviously a great inspiration, but I feel there are added elements of mythology, geometry, and even if your images are richly woven...tapestries, if you will.

The Escape by Lynnette ShelleyLynnette: I do love looking at textiles, tapestries, stained glass and mosaic tile work as well. Some of my pieces I design as if it were a mosaic or stained glass. I actually had a piece recently (“The Dryad”) which I collaborated with a stained glass artist for a show and she created a stained glass artwork based off of my design. We exhibited both my mixed media painting and her stained glass artwork together at the same show. Many of my artworks are inspired by mythology and folktales. Sometimes I’ll read the story and decide to do a piece based off of that idea. Or I may decide I want to do an artwork with a certain animal in it and I’ll research stories and fables about that animal and see what gives me ideas. Occasionally I’ve made an artwork and found out AFTER I finished the artwork that it relates to a specific folktale, so I’ll incorporate that into the title. For example, my artwork “Three Ravens” was created because I wanted three ravens to interlock in a triskele pattern (a symbol in Celtic art) and then later realized there was a an old folk song about Three Ravens.

Totem II by Lynnette ShelleyLinda: I'm always interested in hearing how artists work. Can you tell us a bit about your process, your choice of materials, and so on?

Lynnette: I generally work in a variety of media, usually on the same artwork. Generally I sketch in the composition first with a rough outline and once satisfied with this I then paint or ink in the colors or lines. Some paper-based pieces I stain the background with tea or coffee or red wine first and then work in ink over top. Other pieces are on wood panel and I use acrylics on them with some ink drawings collaged onto the wood. If you visit my blog at, I often post works in progress on there, where you can see my artwork being created from initial sketch to the finished piece.

: I understand that it's a busy month for you. The band had a gig earlier this month, and I you've got some exhibits this coming up soon. Can you tell us where else we can find your work, both in the real world and online?

Sun Wheel by Lynnette Shelley
Lynnette: Currently I have three art shows going on in May (the 28th Annual Immaculata University Art Show in Malvern, PA; Annex 24 Gallery in Lancaster, PA, and the “Gods and Goddesses Group Art Show at C’Est le Vin in Richmond, VA), plus I am also represented by Countryside Gallery in Newtown, PA. If you go to you can see all of my current shows. Otherwise, you can view all of my artwork online at and select from the various galleries available on the menu. You can also visit my facebook fan page for announcements on various upcoming events as well:

Bernie: Thank you. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Lynnette Shelley is a Delaware native who moved to the Philadelphia area in 1999. Having a great love animals, fairytales, and world mythology, Lynnette fuses these influences into her strikingly unique illustrations. Her artwork strikes a primal chord in many viewers, with almost Jungian associations to the colors and shapes. Her animal art and creature illustrations are both primitive and sophisticated, and have been likened to images from an undiscovered ancient civilization or culture.

In addition to her fine art pursuits, Lynnette also co-founded The Red Masque in 2001. The Red Masque is an original avant rock band which is signed to the RER USA label out of Colorado.

Lynnette currently lives and works out of Ambler, PA.

Union by Lynnette Shelley