Amanda Penecale Shares Her Joys

When Amanda Penecale suggested a plein air painting workshop series at Phillips’ Mill, it was to share her love of art and nature with the next generation of young artists. The local painter and art teacher had taught plein air at Phillips’ Mill many years ago, as a teaching intern at the Michener Museum.

“I felt so connected to this way of working on location, and now, years later, I wanted to revive the idea of classes at the Mill as a teacher,” she says. The workshop is aptly titled “Painting in Nature.”

Amanda’s paintings often feature beautiful natural settings, captured and interpreted in bright, bold colors, in places that have special meaning to her, like the fields surrounding her family’s farm in Ottsville, Pa. And, of course, the Phillips’ Mill itself, a setting she has drawn and painted often.

“My work is often about place—where I have found beauty and want to share it,” she says. “I may be on a walk with my dog (and ‘art assistant’) Lyra, or just wandering around when I stumble upon a scene or a field, or just a flower or garlic bulb. I am always seeking beauty, and I want to capture and share it.

“Some places simply called to be painted. It is the difference between photography and a mixed focal point painting. I believe that a painting also carries within it the memory of yesterday morning,” she adds.

Her joyful work can be found on Instagram and on her Etsy shop, Penny Cow Press, where she sells handmade stickers and art prints that she hopes will make people smile. “I create art to share a feeling of joy, about a color or a feeling or a place,” she says.

Her painting “Cliffs and Phlox” won the Award for First Time Exhibitor in Memory of Russel P. Gilsdorf given by Pat and Bruce Hamilton at the 91st annual Juried Art Exhibition.

Yet, one of Amanda’s greatest joys is teaching art, which she has been doing since she was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 2000s. It is a career that has taken her from Nantucket and Maine to Nashville and New York, and now back to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She currently teaches high school painting, design and photography.

Amanda is also a gifted songwriter, musician and photographer. “I have also worked as a nanny, a photography assistant, a baker, a basketball coach, a gardener and a yoga teacher,” she says.

She will be adding “illustrator of children’s books” to her varied resume soon. “I am always up to something,” she muses. “I was commissioned by an author, Gracie Vandiver, to illustrate ‘Basil’s Quest: A Tale of Dogged Determination,’ now on Kickstarter.”

One day, she also hopes to illustrate and write her own children’s book, possibly about life on the farm or a day in the life of her dog. We are sure it will be something wonderful and whimsical.

For now, she leaves us with answers to some of life’s most compelling questions.

Big City or Small Town?
“I have lived in many places, but I am a small-town girl at heart. I spend my summers at my parents’ farm in Ottsville, Pa., and live and teach in a small Jersey shore town called Ocean Grove, NJ.”

Coffee or Tea?
“Coffee brings me a smile each day, though in the winter chamomile tea with honey is my favorite.”

Van Gogh or Matisse?
“Not a fair question. I love them both! Their work has color, movement and mood. Currently, I have been excited by David Hockney’s landscapes, Heather Day’s big abstract paintings and Emily Leonard’s abstracted flowers.”

Acrylic or Oil?
“I like painting in acrylics and watercolors, which are both more eco-friendly than oils. I’m currently taking an online course to make my own watercolor pigments from flowers.”

Best Buddy?
“My dog Lyra.”

Best advice?
“When you feel a calling to do something new, take the leap and try! You cannot find the next joy in your life by standing still, but an attempt brings the possibility to create magic.”

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Illustration of the Phillips' Mill -Artist: Kathie Jankauskus