Ed Penniman

Artist’s Statement

When I look at our natural world I am always inspired by its beauty, harmony, variety and am drawn to paint.  My soul is enriched and hopes my art will do that for others. After I have been painting quietly for a while, I love how nature comes alive. The same thing happens with people as my art making provides me with a deeper integration allowing for a more authentic cross-cultural experience. From an unpopulated tropical island to the streets of Manhattan people are interested in the creative process. 

      I like seeing how my interpretation of a location, my skills, and my emotions are manifested in art, it is sometimes magical and beyond my understanding. The time I am connected to nature is deeply personal and I enjoy sharing that part of myself with my art. My idealized landscapes engage the viewer to inhabit them and bring them peace and emotional healing. 

      When I work I first make simple compositional drawings or a series of small watercolor studies so when I start my painting I am fully engaged in the place. 

     No matter where I am or what is happening to me, my art is with me. When I was the most tested in my life it was art that saved me. If I can bring the viewer to a higher place spiritually and emotionally then I have accomplished my mission and have fulfilled my part of the bargain of having been given an artistic gift.

Brief Bio

Ed was born in the artistic community of Santa Cruz, California. Following his early art education from his grandmother, he earned his degree in fine arts from Chouinard Art School of California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. As an Art Director, his creative talent caught the attention of Carson-Roberts Advertising (Ogilvy-Mather), where he was hired. He also earned a graphic designer position for Robert Miles Runyan and Ken Parkhurst in Los Angeles. Since then, his exceptional graphic design has won many awards for corporate identity, packaging, collateral materials, and trade advertising. 

Saving his life through art…

Ed’s move from graphic design to fine art painting came as a result of a near-death experience. As an adult, Ed was stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which his immune system attacked his nerves, leaving him almost completely paralyzed. After spending many months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Ed moved into a wheelchair, then to a walker, and finally to a cane and leg supports. But he never gave up – not on his new challenges and not on his art.  He knew that, without his art, he could not live with a disability. So he began painting, at first with a brush in his teeth. It was a restorative process to be part of nature, expressing what he saw around him. 

Passing his grandmother’s legacy…

Any artist, no matter how well known, must set a path so others may succeed – connecting past and present artists with the next generation. Ed, true to that mission, curated the Santa Cruz Art League’s Annual Statewide Landscape Exhibition from 2007 through 2016, redirecting the show to a more contemporary and relevant vision focusing once more on landscape painting. This was yet another example of his grandmother’s influence. Leonora N. Penniman had established the exhibition in 1926, along with Margaret Rogers and Cor deGavere – Santa Cruz artists who were known nationally as the Santa Cruz Three. 

      During the exhibition’s recent resurrection, Ed selected Jean Stern, curator of the Irvine (Calif.) Museum, as its juror. Other noted jurors have included Scott A.  Shields, curator and author from Sacramento’s Crocker Museum; Richard Mayhew, member of the National Academy; and Nancy Boas, former assistant curator of American painting for the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums (De Young and Palace of the Legion of Honor), Michael Zakian, curator of The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, painters Kevin Macpherson, David Leffel and David Gallup were jurors chosen by Ed. For one exhibition, Ed entered a piece that won second place. 

Throughout his life, Ed has continued to paint and design, becoming even more prolific. He is still following his grandmother’s inspiration. 

Drawing, Illustration, Mixed Media, Painting