MotorCities National Heritage Area

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of
Published 11.6.2019

A mix of Fannins vehicle paintings 3A mix of Fannin's vehicle paintings

When I first saw automotive artwork and illustrations by Shannon “Shan” Fannin, I said to myself, “this is an artist who captures the form and style of the vehicle.” From cars and trucks to motorcycles and planes, Fannin is a talented and well-recognized automotive artist. Her work is admired by many people from all over the world.

Fannin was born in Long Beach California, and from the beginning, she always wanted to draw and paint. Later, she enrolled in advanced art classes to pursue her dream of becoming a great artist. Fannin went on to teach elementary school art for two years, which was her passion.

Fannin with a painting of a 1971 Mercedes race car 2Fannin with a painting of a 1971 Mercedes race car

Later, Fannin’s expressionistic style and talent for figurative life drawing would open the doors for other related types of art. She once said that “life has a way of waiting patiently until you are ready for your purpose.”

Her love for automotive painting started when she and her husband first purchased and restored a 1961 Ford Thunderbird as a hobby project. It was the best of times for Fannin’s career, as she would develop a style for automotive illustrations. She and her husband would attend vintage car shows and speak to the collectors -- men and women who shared the same interest.

Shan Fannin with a 1956 Chevrolet painting 1Shan Fannin with a 1956 Chevrolet painting

Fannin talked about the importance of contributing to the hobby and automotive history. Automotive history and art are not just for men only. Many women have contributed to the passion of car collecting and used their paint brushes to chronicle the history of Chevrolet or Cadillac or other famous auto names woven into our historic timeline.

Fannin’s automotive paintings are created in acrylics, and she relates to colors very well with each stroke of her brush. Her work highlights the use of chrome, a popular design element for most vehicles during the 1950s. She had her first solo exhibition at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance in 2016, where she was commissioned to paint an award-winning vintage Lamborghini Miura. In June, her 1961 Mercury Monterey painting took the top prize at the Texas State University big show.

1930 Cord 4 RESIZED1930 Cord

Some historians have said that “Shan’s paintings are a mix of realism, expressionism, and abstraction.” The vintage style of her painting bridges the joy of auto history’s past to the present. The auto industry and its vehicles mirrored and helped shape our country’s history and culture. Cars of the 1950s, with their powerful engines, huge tail fins, three-tone paint styles, wraparound windshields and huge amounts of chrome, are captured in Fannin’s great illustrative work.

Some people call Fannin the “Realist Vehicle painter in Austin, Texas.” Her automotive illustrations have been displayed in several venues throughout Austin, including Bergstrom International Airport, the statewide Art Hop competition and various publications as well.

 1939 Chevrolet truck 5 RESIZED1939 Chevrolet truck

Fannin said the painting she did featuring the 1951 Chevrolet pickup truck was an expression of her personality, sharing her feelings of chaos, cheer and vibrant vitality. She said, “This painting makes me happy. I hope it does the same for others that see it.”

In conclusion, Shannon Fannin is a great artist, and her paintings combine realism with abstraction. She lives in Austin, Texas and has been producing automotive art since the fall of 2014. For more information or to view more of her work, visit   

1951 Chevrolet truck 61951 Chevrolet truck



Fannin, Shannon. “Artist Mixes Realism with Abstraction in Vehicle Paintings.”