Passion - When you Reach for the Stars but Touch the Moon - The Shelly Broughton Story

Saturday, November 21, 2015
Passion.  Have you ever noticed that behind every successful artist, every wonderful cook, every show-stopping gardener, every person successful and happy in what they do - you can find one common denominator.  I'm talking about passion - passion in what they do day after day, whether it be their job or their hobby. When we are driven and have a true love for our career or our hobby, it is due to true passion.   That is definitely the case when it comes to the artist about whom I write today - Shelly Broughton.  Every piece Shelly paints comes from a place of passion, from a place deeply rooted in her soul, a passion she tried to suppress but eventually knew she had to release.  Looking at her wide array of work, it's easy to understand why Shelly couldn't keep her passion contained.

I was introduced to Shelly Broughton's work last August when I featured her daughter, Nicolle's, vintage shop, Bluebird Home Decor, in my blog.  Nicolle is a smart marketer who uses social media such as Instagram and Facebook to show the world the beautiful merchandise she carries. Her mom's art was just one of the things that encouraged me to 'follow' her pages.  It wasn't long after discovering her that I knew I had to make the trip to Troy to meet Nicolle and get myself one of Shelly's pieces.  I was instinctively drawn to her moon scenes.  It's taken me a few months, but I finally convinced Shelly to let me feature her here in the blog.  A little bit humble and way too busy keeping up with her demand, but YAY for me, I finally convinced her to tell me her story and let me showcase her amazing talent.

Shelly knew she'd always loved art, but followed the practical path in life and went to school and got a job in a career that would provide a solid income - court reporting.  There was no passion here and Shelly admits she hated it and found it stressful and unfulfilling.  When her mom passed away from cancer at age 49, when Shelly's twin daughter's were just 18 months old, Shelly took a close look at her life.  It was then that she decided "life is short" and knew she had to follow her dreams and pursue her passion.  That passion began with painted sweatshirts and craft shows where she was very successful.  From there she moved to painting murals in homes where she was again very successful.  Finally her art turned to the canvas.  Shelly explains this was a complete change - and a risk.  When she was painting murals, she was painting on demand so she knew the customer would be happy when she was done.  Here, on canvas, the subjects were of her choosing and she hoped others would love her pieces as much as she loved them.  Once daughter Nicolle opened her shop, Shelly had a concrete and constant outlet for showing and selling her art.   

Shelly admits receiving some formal training in her trade, including studying for many years with Artist Marta Jaremko in Delmar.  Shelly's work covers an expansive array of subject matter from farm animals to fishing lures, vegetables to birds, to her famous and most coveted moon scenes.  She works from her home studio where she begins early in the morning and sometimes works till late into the night.  Many of her paintings are sold as originals, but to meet demand she also sells reprints. Shelly's work is rarely just painted - she frequently layers her paintings with a variety of substances. It's difficult to tell sometimes a reprint from an original - except by price.  Shelly has now been following her passion for 20 years and when one gazes at her 'passion', it's easy to see why it could not be contained.  Even after 20 years, it seems there's no end to her inspiration and enthusiasm.  In fact when she arrived for our interview, she was carrying four pieces she'd just finished that morning and she was delighted to share them!


From the largest of canvases to the smallest, Shelly captures the essence of whatever her subject and makes it irresistible.  
Take a look at the tiny canvases which feature historic downtown Troy.

It was Shelly's moonscapes that caught my attention and nearly every one takes my breath away. Shelly says the first time she painted moons, she did four pieces and took them to a show.  Two sold immediately.  She said people had a different reaction to the moons - one she'd never seen before. She's been painting moons ever since and they are still one of her most coveted themes.

These unique lights illuminate this novel moon crest.  I'll talk more about these lights again when I do another feature on the Bluebird Home Decor soon!

 Almost as much as I love every moonscape, I am also smitten by her winter scenes.  Each one similar yet unique, each beckons the viewer to just 'step in' and wander through the winter wonderland.

Check out the winter scenes Shelly has so artistically created of downtown Troy in her larger pieces:

If I haven't sold you yet, how about these fishing lures....notice how she layered some of them on top of old letters.....

In case you couldn't tell how big that butterfly it is in context in its surroundings!

Another piece which I think really depicts Shelly's creativity is this piece featuring a little chick and her donkey.   Shelly covered an old wood frame with pages from a book, the story....the Donkey Tamer.

When I asked Shelly about where she gets her inspiration, she says some comes from Nebraska and Kansas where she spent a lot of time.  Her open fields, fences (always with an opening because she hates to be confined), birds on the fences, childhood memories .....are all an escape from today's world.  Wandering around Bluebird Home Decor among Shelly's art is certainly effective at distracting you from the chaos outside of the shop walls and transports you to places that might only be accessible in your dreams.  Shelly credits her husband, who she's been with since age 13, for supporting the family while she pursued her dreams and who continues to be the rock she stands on as she reaches new heights in her success.  She also credits Nicolle for her passion and drive in running a unique and successful shop where Shelly's art has a permanent and visible market.  

Shelly Broughton is a humble artist who hasn't forgotten her past or her journey, and is grateful for the people in her life who have helped enable her to follow her dream and live out her passion day after day to achieve the success she has achieved today.  It's no wonder Shelly's art exudes joy, contentment and calm because that is exactly what you feel when you spend a little time with Shelly talking about the things near and dear to her heart.  Thank you Shelly for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.  Your art is a window to a world you want to walk into - a place  dreams are made of, where the world around us is silenced and for a moment - nonexistent.

Take a trip to Blue Bird Home decor at 11 3rd Street in Troy.  I promise you'll thank me!  Stay tuned for an upcoming post featuring Nicolle's passion - Blue Bird Home Decor.  But until then, use the link below to check out my August post featuring Blue Bird.   Thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It.

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