Shirley Taylor McKay was born in New York and grew up in Chicago. Encouragement at a young age stimulated her interest in art. As a young girl, Shirley and her mother regularly visited the Art Institute of Chicago. Her father, an inventor in the field of radio and television, was also an excellent studio photographer who let his daughter assist him in the studio and the darkroom.

Shirley graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin and taught at the University and high school level until she married and moved to Salt Lake City. At age 32, she found herself a widow with five children under age eight. Her children were the joy of her life, but as the last of them left home, Shirley concentrated more on her personal life and returned to school in the early eighties, earning a degree in graphic design and illustration. She has been painting professionally ever since.

Shirley creates art with watercolor, acrylics, casein, collage and even Chinese inks on rice paper -- sometimes all on the same work. She loves Chinese painting and has been influenced by travels in Asia as well as studying with Asian instructors. The renown artists Shirley has studied with include Katherine Chang Liu, Glenn Bradshaw, Marilyn Hughey Phillis, Frank Covino and Scott Christensen. Shirley has also been greatly influenced by the luminosity of the Hudson River painters --Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt and most especially George Inness.


I paint outside whenever I can because I love the beauty of nature and find it spiritually uplifting and healing to be in the middle of it. After painting a series of landscapes, I often paint a few abstract and symbolic paintings which help strengthen the composition in my more realistic paintings. In these more symbolic paintings, I discover many things about myself which I cannot express in words. Sometimes I will create a composite scene from memory which brings me a feeling of peace.

Whether I am painting realistically or abstractly, I want the viewer to feel the spiritual through my art. Painting is a way of expressing my gratitude to God for life and for this beautiful world. I try to help others feel the emotion I felt when I viewed a scene.

My artwork indicates the passage of time by using many layers and glazes, often sanded through to reveal the surfaces beneath. This sanding often presents new thoughts to me during the process. I purposely leave parts of my paintings unresolved and understated -- similar to the way the eyes sees --with just the focal area more tightly rendered.

I strive to have my paintings show sensitivity to mood by creating a luminous glow within them. Light is to me a spiritual concept, and it is a major focus of my art. I want viewers not only to see the painting, but to see into the painting.