Penny Holland

A children’s book writer and former junior high math teacher, Penny Holland began “playing with watercolors” in the mid 1990s when she moved to Whidbey Island and joined Joan Brosnahan’s painting class at the Oak Harbor Senior Center.

Earlier in her life Penny had tried her hand at art, but was always frustrated. She believed that some people were born with artistic talent, while others, such as herself, were not. It was not until after her son’s untimely death in 1996 that Penny made a life-changing discovery. Going through his belongings, she came across the book, DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN. After trying some of the book’s exercises, she finally realized that art is not just talent; it is also learning to see. 

A picture book about adoption that Penny had written for her four-year-old son over thirty years ago was partially illustrated by Chris’s grandmother, but never published. Recently Penny tried her hand at painting the “missing” illustrations. She considers THE ADOPTION OF BORIS to be one of her life’s biggest accomplishments when she self-published the book in 2012.

A member of Whidbey Allied Artists, Penny credits much of her success to several talented artists who have been her mentors: Dottie Sanders, Gary Schallock, Caroline Buchanan, and, of course, the late Joan Brosnahan. She has discovered that her best art occurs when she gives up on being perfect and just has fun with the process of painting.

Her favorite quote is by Scott Adams,

“CREATIVITY is allowing myself to make mistakes. ART is knowing which ones to keep.”

Today Penny continues on her journey of figuring out which ones to keep (and which ones to turn into boxes)!