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14th Annual Inspired by PEM 9/5-11/8/20

“Inspired by PEM” – 14th Annual PEM Inspirational Exhibition

Salem Arts Association presents an exhibition by local artists inspired by the Peabody Essex Museum’s collections of art.  Artists draw inspiration from any of the work in the PEM’s outstanding special exhibits and permanent collection of art and architecture.

My two entries in the show are part of my Tree Collection, Free Birds and Four Seasons. Both of them are painted with acrylic on canvas, and are trees painted against a mottled metallic background which is accomplished by painstakingly applying layer upon layer of translucent paint. My paintings are inspired by the exquisite Asian panels I have seen at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Free Birds shows a row of three trees with autumn leaves swirling around them. The three trees represent my three children who are pictured as blackbirds flying away from the nest. Two birds representing my husband and I remain behind. The question is….which are the free birds? Free Birds, acrylic, 15″ x 18″ framed, $300.

Four Seasons is a four-panel painting, and each panel illustrates one of the seasons of the year in New England. Winter shows swirling snowflakes, spring depicts the delicate flowers and tiny leaves on a blossoming apple tree. Summer is drifting leaves done in shades of green and blues, and Autumn illustrates spiraling fall leaves in reds, oranges, golds and browns. Four Seasons, acrylic, 4 panels 12″ x 24″ each (total size 48″ w x 24″ h), $1,200.

Free Birds will hang in the actual gallery. Four Seasons is too large for this show and will be part of the virtual online gallery. Salem Arts Association is located at 159 Derby Street, Salem, MA 01970, right beside the Friendship at Derby Wharf. Gallery hours are noon to 6:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 978-745-4850. The virtual gallery as well as the Salem Arts shop can be found at

September 5 through Sunday November 8, 2020


COVID: Mi Libro/ My Book

     I’m so happy to have my artwork chosen to be part of the “Massachusetts Call for Creatives” to make art which will help inform local people about the dangers of the pandemic. My wee booklet about what kids can do to stay healthy will be distributed in the Salem Point neighborhood. One sheet of printer paper can be folded into a little pocket size book. (Everything I ever needed to know I learned teaching Kindergarten!) @northshorecdc and
     The North Shore Community Development Commission (CDC) asked artists to develop COVID-19 resources that would speak to their community. They have now announced the 25 artworks that have been selected to be shared with the community. The winning works include posters, stickers, songs, educational materials, etc. 
     As a retired teacher, my mind went immediately to designing something that could be used with children. My project is a tiny booklet in Spanish and English titled COVID: Mi Libro/ My Book. It is black and white sheet that can be colored by children and folded into a pocket-sized booklet. The booklet about COVID safety is printed on one side, and the directions for folding are on the other side. Once the booklet is folded, the instructions are hidden. The booklet is full of happy, diverse children doing their part to keep themselves and their community safe from COVID. The fact that it can be printed using only one sheet of paper makes it useful in schools, day care centers, camps, and at home!
     The CDC encourages you to share and enjoy! To see the 25 artworks that are part of this project go to

Painting Commission — Salem Common

My newest commission is a painting of Salem Common in Salem, MA done entirely in black and white. The painting is done in acrylic paint on gallery-wrapped canvas and is 20″ x 40″.

I was glad to be asked to create a painting of Salem Common because it is a place I love to visit to walk around the paths, to sit and read, or simply to people-watch. It also holds many wonderful memories for me. There is a children’s playground in one corner where I took my own children when they were small, and where I now bring my grandchildren. I have taken many romantic strolls there with my husband during our 45 years together. Lots of good memories!

I wanted to include the iconic bandstand, the historic archway, and the lovely black wrought iron fence as well as portray the paths, the large grassy area and the lovely old trees. I purposely kept The Commons free of people so that each time it was viewed, the viewer could picture him or herself in the painting doing whatever inspired him/her at that particular  moment. It was an interesting and challenging exercise to paint all this greenery in shades of black, white, and gray!


Watercolor Commission

I meet the most thoughtful people! A woman was moved to commission a painting of her friend’s home when she learned her friend was moving. The photographs she gave me to work from showed a neat-as-a-pin home, obviously well-loved and cared-for. Against this canvas, I was asked by her to include some special surprises for her friend: a much-cherished pet dog, butterflies, special flowers and shrubs with meaning for the woman, and more.

The woman asked me to portray the home in a realistic style, in watercolor painted rather loosely, and both she and I were pleased with the result!


Made In Quarantine — 7/20 to 9/20/2020

The Galleries at Lynn Arts is proud to present a collection of artwork made during the Safer-At-Home shutdown for the global COVID19 pandemic. It has been an intense time, and it inspired me to make an intense painting.

My creation for the Made In Quarantine show was inspired by my anger at President Donald Trump’s almost complete lack of leadership during the pandemic and his intense politicization of the unprecedented disaster it has caused our country. So many people dead and suffering, so many jobs lost, so many businesses and schools shuttered, yet Trump treats it like an afterthought and dangerously confuses US citizens with daily lies about COVID19.

The painting is called Taking Note. It is painted in acrylics on a 12″ x 24″ gallery-wrapped canvas. The background of the canvas is white with orange type-font lettering. Superimposed on the “typing” is the word “LIES” written three times in stenography. The shorthand words are dripping with the blood of Covid’s many victims in the US — blood that could have been saved if he had done his job.

I payed for college by working as a secretary, taking shorthand and typing letters. Most secretaries were women, and stenography is basically a secret language of women. Donald Trump has been dangerous to all Americans, but he has been especially awful to women. I thought it was appropriate to remind him that I, and other women — certainly the millions that marched together the day after his inauguration — have been Taking Note of the mess he has made.

This painting is a stark contrast to most of my paintings. Usually, I try to reflect the beauty of the world that God has given us. I try very hard to see the good in life and not paint ugly or unhappy subjects, to leave the world better than I found it. But sometimes something happens that is so bad that it must be remembered and trumpeted. Trump’s careless handling of this health disaster moved me to do so.

New gallery hours: Fridays 5 – 8 PM, Saturdays 11AM – 5PM and the last Sunday of the month 11AM – 4PM. To accommodate the needs of safety of our community we will allow 10 people in the big gallery, 2 persons in the small community gallery and no more than 4 in the shop including cashier at any time. Masks are required inside the building of course.



Salem Arts Assoc. Member Show


The Grand Opening of the Salem Arts Association’s beautiful new gallery at 159 Derby Street, Salem, MA (right beside Derby Wharf and the Friendship) was postponed because of the global pandemic, but will finally happen on June 20 until August 28, 2020. Gallery hours are 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Masks and social distancing is required, of course.

My entry in the Salem Art Association Member Exhibit is Birch Mountain, acrylic, 12″x36″ vertical, $400. It was inspired by a beautiful drive through New Hampshire at the height of foliage season. I just love birch trees all year, but in the autumn with their bright yellow leaves, they are stunning.

SAA members have worked tirelessly to get all the items in the shop online as well, and I have lots of original art, prints, mini paintings, etc. there.



Salem Arts Association — New Location! 2020

During these challenging times and during the month of June, when we celebrate Pride and the LQBTQIA community, it is important that we reiterate our values of inclusivity and respect for all people! The doors of Salem Arts Association are open to everyone. We affirm that Black Lives Matter and welcome everyone to our galleries. So join us. Join us as a member. Join us as a visitor. Join us as a supporter. Come share your creativity – all the arts. Come share your thoughts. Come share you with us.
When we open on Saturday June 20 at our new location at 159 Derby Street, Salem, MA, we will offer weekend hours on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 6:00 PM.
With respect for our guests and volunteers we will require ALL who enter the galleries to wear face protection and follow social distancing best practices.

Best of Show — DAA Virtual Spring Show 2020

Check out The Danvers Art Association Virtual Spring Show 2020 website (, on FaceBook (The Danvers Art Association), and on Instagram (@thedanversartassociation). Because of the global pandemic, we will not have in-person viewings of the show.

I was delighted that my painting, Summer Afternoon was awarded Best in Show! Acrylic, 12″ x 36″, $385.

My painting was done en plein air at Forest River Park in Salem in the late afternoon. I have always loved the way the light caresses the velvety green grass at the park in the late afternoons. And the glow from the sun through the leaves feels almost like sun through the stained glass windows of a church.


Tiger King Virtual Gallery — 4/18/2020

Because of the universal shut-down of all galleries, shows and festivals due to the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, I have turned to virtual galleries to display my work. Here is the first!

Come to a virtual gallery where all the artwork is inspired by Tiger King! The Gallery is open!
My offering is Wax-resist watercolor on paper.
Original, matted 11″ x 14″ available for purchase, $65. Matted prints 11″x14″ available, $25.
Info: and @sheilafarrenbillings on Instagram, (or here on FB of course!).


Mythology Exhibit Feb. 17 to Mar. 25, 2020

Mythology is full of tales which are intended to teach a lesson, explain the many mysteries of life, phenomenon in nature or describe the customs, institutions, or religious rites of a people. Here we are, in the 21st century, and many of us still enjoy mythological tales. Mythological references can still be found in our discussions about science, art and literature…everywhere you turn, there is likely to be a reference to Mythology. What does it teach us? How did Mythology became modern?

My painting, Shell Selkie, was juried in to this exhibit. Shell Selkie is done in acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, 11″ x 14″. It was inspired by stories in Irish mythology of sea maidens who can transform into seals, and by the haunting folk song The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry.

Opening reception will be held on Friday, Feb. 21 at GALA. Meet and greet the artists, 5:30 to 6:00 p.m., suggested donation $10. Public reception 6:00 to 8:00, suggested donation $5. Lots of food and fun!

The Galleries at Lynn Arts are presenting the exhibit, Mythology, from February 17 to March 25, 2020. The show is on display at GALA, 25 Exchange St., Lynn, MA. Email: Phone: 617-909-9211. Website: