30: penelope dullaghan

penelope dullaghan

Penelope Dullaghan is an illustrator and fine artist who started her freelance career after a five-year stint as an art director. She currently lives in the teensy town of Winona Lake, Indiana with her writer husband, 11 month old daughter, dog and two cats. She chronicles her artistic development at her website, Penelope Illustration. She also heads up and contributes to a weekly creative outlet and participatory art exhibit: IllustrationFriday. Penelope’s clients include Starbucks, Target, United Airlines, and Oprah Magazine.








on the nightstand:

  • simplicity parenting by kim john payne and lisa m. ross
  • my yoga teacher training manual
  • momma zen by karen maezen miller
  • a letter from a friend
  • my journal


am loving:

  • long, thin neck scarves
  • space heaters
  • my daughter trying on different laughs
  • motherhood


what inspires you about winter?

not much to be honest. but i’m trying to look at winter in a different way… viewing it more like the season of savasana. Relaxing and quieting to rejuvenate and let the rest soak in.


what’s one item in your winter wardrobe you can’t go without?

my ridiculously large and insulated snow boots.


what’s your idea of the perfect winter meal?

spicy chili with all the fixins’ and an ice cold beer.


what are three constants in your day?

  • a breakfast of coffee and an english muffin prepared by my lovely, morning person husband
  • seeing my girl, veda, sign “hungry” sixty-five thousand times
  • sneaking short bursts of yoga practice into nap times


tell us about the inspiration behind the work featured here.

“This paying attention to the ground of the mind is like observing the sky rather than the things in it. We may notice a bird flying through the sky, but certainly the sky does not become smudged from this movement. Today it is rainy, but somehow the sky does not become wet. Tomorrow it is sunny, but the sky doesn’t ignite into flames. The next day there is an exciting show of thunder and lightning, yet no one rushes around trying to repair the sky. In the same way, when we have the discipline to stay with our practice, we insist on remaining identified with our own neutral witness, the part of us that stays the same regardless of the passing show.”

~ Donna Farhi

When I first read the quote above, I breezed right through it. Sky… got it. Birds… got it. Practice… got it. But this quote somehow found its way into my head, and I found myself thinking about it all the time. In the shower… Driving my car… Playing with my daughter… The more I thought about it, the more true it rang. For me, these simple words somehow shed light on the whole idea of being still and watching. On not getting involved and attached to each thought and emotion that rides through our minds. And not letting our stories take us over. It made me stop and try to identify with my own neutral witness periodically. And keep coming back to that over and over. Practicing gently. And I thought that was a beautiful thing.

And so I was inspired to share this beautiful thing I discovered by creating a piece of art and an animation that sort of illustrated the idea. The woman is sitting. Not in meditation or an asana, but just casually cross-legged. That, for me, is where I challenge myself to live my yoga — off the mat in everyday life. And everything flows through her in her stillness. She can still be seen faintly as birds pass, the wind blows clouds in and a storm comes up and finally blows over. She is the neutral witness.

I hope you enjoy it and might think of it occasionally as a reminder to connect with the part of you that stays the same regardless of the passing show.


27 thoughts on “30: penelope dullaghan

  1. penelope, this really has touched me deeply and has come at such the perfect moment. thanks so much for sharing this. and thank you to the wonderful shari +sheri for always providing such a perfect place to land for inspiration!

  2. I just sent this fabulous Donna Farhi quote to my husband. He’s working on such things at the moment. He’s inspiring me. Penelope’s interpretation and thoughts on this quote were beautiful.

    Life, it’s a practice.

    And last but certainly not least, spicy chili + ice cold beer — yes!

  3. wow. I really, really needed that, and I welcome it’s almost certain fate of continuing to affect me and grow in me for a long time. Thank you Penelope, Sheri and Shari.

  4. I keep coming back to read this again and again. And the art is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is exactly what I needed to hear.

  5. I’ve been following your blog for months now and am especially inspired by this latest creation. So beautiful, so simple, so true! thank you

  6. It is wonderful how it came together. I remember when you showed me the concept and thought WOW!
    Love, Dad
    Veda’s Grandpa Kline

  7. I like the imagined and curious visual of someone repairing the sky after the elements have had their way and the sun has blazed through and the birds have flown through, ruffling clouds, as it were… It all seems so painterly and deliciously surreal, and the tiny moving animation describes this all. Beautiful and distilled.

  8. Pingback: Penelope Illustration • Penelope Dullaghan : Moving Through Animation

  9. Pingback: the neutral witness | BlackBird Studio

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