Cover Artist: Shana Greger
Story by Paul M. Howey
Can birth order influence creativity? Shana Greger is certainly open to that possibility. Born the last of four children with a five-year gap between her and her next oldest sibling, Shana says, “I was pretty much left to amuse myself. So I guess that’s where I started.” There’s an irrepressible creative drive in Shana she says has been there from the beginning.
She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston where she majored in communications and illustration. There weren’t a lot of full-time positions for illustrators at that time, and so she decided to set off on her own. “The nature of freelancing is to do a lot of different gigs. And when you’re getting started, you’re like a crow. You will eat anything to survive.”
When you get to know Shana, you quickly realize that she is doggedly determined, a trait that did not go unnoticed by the director of the college’s art placement office she frequented. He asked her to do a lecture on “How to Survive as an Artist.” She did and it became a regular series, and this led to a part-time position teaching senior illustration at her college alma mater.
Her freelance assignments were fun as they were vary varied. “I loved doing editorial/op-ed illustrations for the Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor called me regularly.” She even went on an archeological dig in the Holy Land where she made precise drawings of pottery that was unearthed.
In 1988, she got her first and only full-time job—a teaching position at Southeastern Massachusetts University. This gave her a much needed respite from the pressures of freelancing. But it was only a one-year contract.
Serendipity is a major player in Shana’s life. When the teaching job was coming to an end, she landed her first children’s book project: The Boy Who Spoke Colors. When that was completed, she felt the urge for another change, and so headed to New Mexico in 1991. More book deals followed while she continued freelancing. And there in the Southwest she began painting and selling desert scenes. It was about this time she also began painting interpretive portraits of Tara, the female aspect of the Buddha.
Four years later, another change was in the wind. “Besides missing green, the subtle tones that (Southwest) landscape held were going gray in my view,” she explains. “My beloved Southwest, the place that had been calling me for years is ready to spit me out after less than five?” Probably not, but another place was calling her name.
“I’ve found that if you live with a question, you will get an answer … I didn’t want to waste any time. If I was leaving the Southwest, I wanted it done.” A psychic said she saw Nashville in Shana’s future. Someone else, however, said, “There’s this little town in Western North Carolina called Asheville…” And so that set new plans in motion.
She moved here in 1995 and lived in Asheville and now Brevard. She chose Brevard because she’d said she’d needed a sign and, coincidentally, she’d been thinking about a waterfall series. Through her windshield, she saw the sign (literally) that read: Welcome to Brevard ~ Land of Waterfalls. Done deal.
So when she finished the “Tara” series and she had a publisher ready to produce it, she began painting waterfalls. But then came the call. The publisher, due to economic downturn, was going to pass on the book project after all.
“I’d interrupted my painting to take that call,” says Shana, “and when I hung up I continued painting. I think the painting saved me from falling into total despair. But then the phone rang again. It was Jeff and he was asking her out for the first time. They are now life partners, so serendipity can smile right after it doesn’t.
She likens her life to a spiral and her path circling ever higher. There are many spirals in our lives, she says, and when we complete one we begin anew. That sounds blissful and challenging and exciting, all at the same time.
To learn more, visit shanagreger.com. Her paintings are at Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, Red Wolf Gallery in Brevard, and Gallery at Grove in Greenville, South Carolina.
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