Shelly Morgan - Contemporary Artist

About Shelly Morgan

I was born in 1976 in Leeds, West Yorkshire and until I was eight lived in Thorpe, a small village just outside Leeds, within the area lovingly known as the rhubarb triangle, back then Thorpe had cobbled streets and houses with outdoor toilets. Six of my cousins lived on the same street and we had lots of fun exploring. Looking back, I remember our walks through the bluebell woods and spending most of our time by, and sometimes in, the stream at the bottom of the rec’.

We moved within walking distance to Leeds city centre when I was nine, my creative skills were apparent by then and my Dad, a bricklayer by trade - who also painted in his spare time, taught me about perspective, colour mixing and how to look for light.

My Mum and Dad always encouraged me to make my own decisions and they instilled a strong work ethic in me too. My high school was in the city centre, I walked past Leeds College of Art & Design daily with dreams of going there one day...and then I did!

My art studies covered print and typography, textiles and fashion, as well as architecture and design, my student life had truly begun; I met lots of people with similar interests to me and I guess we were typical teenagers, whenever we weren't working, we were out enjoying the bright lights of the city. 

When I was eighteen I moved to Oxfordshire to continue my studies, specialising in Graphic Design & Illustration. It was quiet compared to Leeds and I missed my family and my northern friends. I also missed eating fish 'n' chips from the back of Leeds Market. I still pop in every time I am back, but Leeds has changed so much, the people are the same but it wasn't the sprawling metropolis I see when I visit now. I enjoyed studying away though; it was a fantastic time, I became independent, I met lots of new people and in my final year, I met a super-cool guy who became my husband, he is the reason I never returned to Leeds.

After receiving my BA (Hons) in 1999 I started work as a digital technician for a photographic company, I really enjoyed my time there but as the job title suggests, it was more technical than creative and that itch needed scratching. In 2003 I began painting in my spare time and selling my pieces online. I slowly took over our conservatory as a dedicated painting area, before long I needed some industrial shelving and a large bench. There was no stopping me; I began painting full-time in the conservatory, during the summers it was ridiculously hot and in the winters, I learned to paint with woolly gloves on – anything in the conservatory got covered in paint, the walls, the glass, the radiator, there was even paint on the ceiling! I was running out of space and I knew it was time I moved out.

With a lot of help from family and friends, we built my very own art studio in the back garden, I loved it, having so much more space, I was in there every day producing landscapes and seascapes, mainly oils on canvas, some days it would be a mix of bright bursts of colours and other days, calm soothing tones. Representing myself at that time, I am extremely proud to have sold over 2000 hand-painted original pieces to people all over the world. I've been commissioned by interior designers and set designers, I’ve sold collections to offices and public buildings in the UK, and every so often, I have the unexpected pleasure of seeing my work turn up on the television too.

I get my inspiration from all over but I find travelling particularly inspiring, I love sitting and gazing at a vibrant sunset, especially one mirrored in an ocean. I married my husband on a beach like that in Thailand, it was a fantastic day followed with fireworks lighting up the night sky. I also love the south-west of France, it's got such beautiful scenery, the beaches, the woodlands, rustic buildings and vistas of vineyards. Through marriage I've now got family there and I love it when we all sit around a table full of food and drink, outside in the hazy, dappled sunshine under huge trees with a warm breeze.

Soon after marriage, I needed to take a break from painting as my bump was starting to smudge the bottom of the canvases, our first daughter arrived in 2007, our second the following year and for the next few years after that, family life took centre stage.

In 2010 we moved to Bedfordshire where I settled into village life once again – this time the loos were indoors :-) 

We love it around here, we have the best of both worlds, beautiful rolling countryside and we are just a few stops on the train from the bright lights of London.