A pair of oil painters, who often work together and learn from each other, are this month's co-featured artists of the month at the Brush & Palette Art Gallery in Grove.

Phyllis Dunaway and Shirley Whitman, both Grove-area painters, are the featured artists throughout the month of April at the gallery located on West Fourth Street.

A special reception, from 6 to 8 p.m., on Friday, April 12 at the gallery, will also take place. During the reception, which includes light refreshments and entertainment, the pair will host a drawing for two of their works.

For Whitman, the work features a crane made from a scratch art technique, for Dunaway, the piece is an oil painting of a sunflower field. Everyone who attends the reception is eligible for the drawing. No purchase is required.

More about the artists

Shirley Whitman

Whitman began painting approximately 40 years ago. Then a single mom with teenagers, she was looking for a creative outlet.

"I had always wanted to paint since I was little," Whitman said. 

Her desire to paint led to classes. Eventually, after her move to Grove 15 years ago, it led her to join the Brush & Palette Gallery.

"I wanted to be able to paint and hang my paintings," Whitman said.

While she's tried other mediums, Whitman has found she likes oils the best - because it makes the paintings look richer.

"It's just a thicker, luxurious color," Whitman said. 

A wildlife and southwestern artist, Whitman mainly paints things from the outdoors or the southwest including cowboys and indians, as well as things which portray life on a ranch. 

"When I lived in California, I would travel a lot between it and Colorado," Whitman said. "I just love the southwestern part of our country."

She recently completed a series featuring a Navajo woman. She also loves to create images featuring eagles. 

Recently, Whitman was introduced to a new medium - scratch art. She's created several pieces for this show including one which features a crane. While she paints some of the works, she tries to leave the board so the technique is featured in the piece.

"It's just fun to see what I can come up with," Whitman said, said with a smile. "I like to create. I won't live long enough to do all the paintings I want to do."

Whitman and her husband, Jimmy, have a combined nine adult children. 

Phyllis Dunaway

Dunaway considers herself a neophyte artist. She conceded to become one of the featured artists of the month, only after Whitman agreed to join in the honor.

Dunaway said she often works with Whitman, so combining the pair's work seemed natural.

"We work together and she helps me make my paintings look like paintings," Dunaway said with a grin.

Dunaway moved to rural Grove in June 2002, from Orange County, California, in order to be near family.

She started painting approximately four years ago. Originally she took classes from Barbara Ott, one of the artists at the Brush & Palette Club. 

"Back in the 1980s I watched Bob Ross videos on TV," Dunaway said. "I thought it looked fun, but I never pursued it."

While she initially tried watercolors, she soon landed on oil painting as her preferred medium.

"Watercolors are hard and there is no forgiveness in watercoloring," Dunaway said. "I thought I needed to try something with forgiveness, which led to oil painting."

After Ott moved from the area, Dunaway began studying at times with Whitman.

"I'm too much of a neophyte painter without somebody standing over my shoulder saying, 'what about doing it that way,'" Dunaway said. "I'm a neophyte because there is so much I don't know how to do."

She likes painting with oils, because the process is slow.

"If you make a mistake, you can go back in and go over it," Dunaway said. "I've had numerous base coats on a painting in order to get it right."

Dunaway also likes to add detail to her work, but says she likes to keep her works "free and flowing" and leave some of the minute details to the viewer's imagination. 

"I like to look at a piece and let my brain fill in what is not in the painting," Dunaway said. "Because your brain will do that."

Ultimately, Dunaway said she enjoys the creativity involved in her art.

"I enjoy bringing a scene to life in my paintings," Dunaway said. "It gives me a feeling of accomplishment, when I see there are tangible results."