ShelleyTheArtist is the new Resident Artist at The Milestone Hotel & Residences and The Rubens at the Palace. Learn more about Shelley's loves and inspirations as we explore what makes her artistic style so unique and uncover her fascinating personal history. 


After many years of working as a painter and teacher in Los Angeles, ShelleyTheArtist is currently based in London, the city of her birth. Her preferred studio is the urban landscape where she constantly finds inspiration on trains, cafes, and everywhere people gravitate. Essentially, she is a voyeur, looking for narratives in peoples’ faces and demeanours. It’s an instinctual process, where she will be inspired by someone and know she wants to tell their story. 

“Everyone has a story and I feel compelled to tell them through my art.” 

If drawing from life is her inspiration, colour is Shelley’s language of expression. Working in watercolours, pencils, markers and pens for her live sketching, her studio work is more complex and her chosen mediums more varied. She uses acrylics, oils, oil pastels and watercolours on her canvases and is currently creating a body of digital work which she is intrigued and delighted by.

The studio paintings take on a different form, in that they are more concentrated and developed. However, when making a painting from subjects that are in front of her, she finds an authenticity and vitality that cannot be replicated. 

Shelley is highly disciplined in her drawing practice and is convinced that drawing every day is essential. Living in London means a ‘feet on the ground’ approach, as the city is fast and the people are not interactive but very forward focused. Shelley uses the tension and stress of city life to create quick pencil sketches of people on trains, and then video the responses as she gives them the drawing. It generally creates a shift in everyone's mood and is a wonderful practise. Shelley is highly disciplined in her drawing practise and is convinced that drawing from life every day is as important to the artist as drinking water is for our bodies. 

“I think Artists are born with an instinct to create art. For me it has been a lifetime calling.” 

Her influences are ever changing, but the mainstays are Hockney, Vincent, Alice Neel and, for colour, it is always Monsieur Matisse. These influences are quite apparent within her own body of work.

Shelley is a self-taught artist, who has learned the rules, and broken most of them. Her art is constantly evolving as she explores new techniques and ideas. She is also a teacher, and a faculty member of the Brentwood Art Center in Los Angeles. Teaching is a passion, where she strives to break down the mysteries of drawing people and perspective. She has created workshops that explore in depth techniques and has had great success. Shelley loves teaching children of all ages and is constantly amazed by their insights and talents. She feels art is both boundless and healing. Today she works as a full time painter and teacher, always observing and searching for stories she wants to tell.  

Shelley is delighted to join the Red Carnation family as Resident Artist at The Milestone Hotel & Residences and looks forwards to the many stories she will tell of the guests at The Milestone through her art.

An interview with Shelley 

How would you describe your artistic style in a few words? 

Colourful: I love colour. Spontaneous: I love to draw from life and I like my art best when it’s immediate. Storytelling: I like to create narratives within my work where I tell stories.  

How would you describe yourself in a few words? 

In a few words it’d say eclectic, quirky, unusual, and I’m an introverted extrovert, I’m a consummate observer, I’m always watching. I’m always changing and evolving; I’m a work in progress. 

Where do you find inspiration? 

I find it in London. London is such a walking city and wherever you are there’s life on the streets and so many people around you. There are so many stories to tell. Some of them are soulful and some of them are heartbreaking and I find that fascinating. 

Where do you most like to draw people? 

I find a lot of inspiration on the train. The journeys give you the time to sit and watch. I like to connect with the people I see, and I like to find out their stories – these are always very different to the stories that I create in my head. However, cafés are my favourite places to draw people. Cafés provide a wonderful reflective space to sit and observe.  

What's your favourite subject to draw? 

Drawing people is what drives me, it’s my favourite thing to do, but drawing when I find areas that have a lot of character is also interesting. I’m drawn to buildings with lots of life – that might just be an old, run-down building with a beautiful door, but to me that’s as interesting as a person because it has its own story. 

What’s your favourite medium to work with? 

I love pencils and I love drawing, but I also love watercolour painting because its so quick. If you make a mistake on a watercolour you have to stop - watercolour decides for you sometimes.  

Who are your big artistic influences? 

I love Vincent van Gogh and I love David Hockney. I love the vision of Hockney and it’s the same as mine. Hockney took from Vincent and I’ve taken from both of them because I love the vibrancy of their work.  

What do you love about The Milestone? 

I love the fact that it’s a big hotel but it feels like a small hotel. You can feel the family influence within the hotel because everything about the Milestone is in the detail. There's a good feeling about the place as soon as you walk through the door.