Artist  Penny Nolan

Traditional Fine Art Oil Painter


I’ve been drawing since I can remember.  The smell of oil paint still reminds me of my first paint by numbers set when I was eight years old.  I am blessed with an endless imagination and find painting a perfect outlet for my creativity.  Life is a painting to me.  The world around me is like a continuous stream of painting snapshots parading in my head.  When I’m not painting in my studio, I’m painting in my mind.


People often ask me why I paint with oils and not acrylics or watercolors.  There’s a certain versatility I find appealing, in addition to the creaminess of the paint.  I don’t have to worry about them drying while I “play” with the paint.  I can take my time getting the image just the way I want.  I can control how slow or fast I want them to dry.  The paint can be thinned to translucency or made thick and opaque.  Oils allow me to have complete freedom of creative expression. 


I enjoy a good composition that moves the eye through the painting.  I use a glazing technique to achieve depth and richness of color.  My “go-to” subject of choice is landscapes.  My style is traditional, lending itself to the serene settings that I prefer to paint.  I want viewers to imagine themselves in my paintings.  The ultimate compliment is when someone looks at one of my landscape paintings and says, “Oh… I want to go there.”  Mostly, I want beautiful paintings that inspire and touch the hearts of people. 


I enjoy creating paintings with a little story.   In my in painting titled “Escape,” carousel horses come to life and are jumping off the platform into the wild.  For those who like the challenge of a hunt, I try to include small items to make the paintings more interesting.  In “The Words Out,” I have a dazzling array of hot air balloons heading off on their journey through a beautiful land, but if you look closely, you’ll see a tiny rainbow to indicate that they are going to the Land of Oz.  I also enjoy whimsy.  “The Foothill Dancers” depicts a row of evergreen trees I pass every day.  A type of tree that always appears to me as if dancing.  Be sure to notice that the shadows of the trees are that of children dancing.  I relish painting the dreamy and moody.  In “Secret Paradise,” I have created a snowy, nighttime scene with two people kissing under a gazebo with twinkling lights.  I want all my subject matter to be meaningful, relatable and beautiful, if not ideal.


I am a Native Californian residing in beautiful Northern California.  I am inspired by nature and spend as much time outdoors as I can.  I especially enjoy Plein Air painting (outdoor painting) as a way to capture the spirit of the landscape.  Fortunately, I have a husband who loves to travel and I love to paint the sites, a perfect combo! 


I have been an art teacher for 24 years.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in art from San Jose State University.  I am currently a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club ( and member of the California Art Club.