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 Shirley de Long  (1936 - )

About: Shirley de Long


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Lived/Active: North Carolina      Known for: landscape, still life

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Shirley de Long, a lifetime real estate agent, has made a major career change after 33 years of designing and building houses, and selling commercial and residential real estate. "I've always told people, 'I sell real estate to support my habit,'" she said. Her "habit" is painting, a passion she has kept on the back burner for at least 30 years.

de Long's love of art began as busy work, a way to keep an 11-year-old occupied and not underfoot. "My mother apparently didn't believe in me being idle," she said. "She thought I didn't have enough to do or I was always into things, so she bought me art supplies - sketch pads, pens, charcoal pencils - and sewing machines. I could do that type of thing and keep myself busy. It was a breeze for me. I guess it was a talent."

She dropped the paintbrushes for about a decade after high school and picked them up again in her late 20s, about the time that stress from being a real estate agent began taking its toll. "When I'd get ill at work, I'd go home and paint," she said, "because you're in a man's world out there, and it's difficult."

She has been planning to open a gallery for at least 20 years, she said. "When you have to earn a living, it's hard to go out and promote your artwork," she said. "I have gone with a gallery a time or two, but that didn't make me happy."

A big admirer of William Mangum, Mel Steele and Ward Nichols, de Long spends her evenings painting florals, landscapes, seascapes and old cabins in the basement of her home. She doesn't plan to make her gallery a studio, she insists. She prefers to wait until she finishes a painting and deems it worthy before anyone else can see it.

"Creative people are always critical of themselves," she said, calling some of her never-seen works "lousy" or "horrible" and relegating them to the dark corners of her basement. "I think you can always improve and perfect yourself. That's why I'm trying to do."

Olde Jamestowne Art Gallery, Ltd.
The following, from the artist, is a copy of an article from a Jamestown, North Carolina newspaper, HIGH POINT ENTERPRISE, in an article titled "Lifestyles," December 10, 2000.

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