“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso
Creation is one of the greatest experiences we can have. The ability to see the spark of vision in the mind’s eye, formulate a plan for translation, and then allow that idea to flow through you to fruition, is an amazing power – a power many of us forfeit in youth. Rarely, creative souls manage to make it to adulthood with their inner artist still in tact. Forty-year-old Glen Shirley is one of those creative souls who celebrates artistic expression in many forms, but one skill in particular illuminates the relationship between his inner child and his matured artistic skill to showcase his passions for his art and his favorite holiday: Halloween!
Glen’s ability to funnel creativity began in early childhood where his love of comic books and cartoons inspired sketches and drawings, which evolved over time to include such skills as sand sculpting and pumpkin carving – and although many of Glen’s artistic talents are actively employed in his life, the pumpkin carving is what became his creative outlet and hobby. At the age of 16, where many muses begin to go astray, Glen produced the first carved pumpkin that proved to be the seed for many pumpkins to come. He’s carved familiar characters such as Elmo from Sesame Street, Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Tinker Bell, Time Warner’s Bat Man, and a plethora of other familiar friendly faces… backlit and displayed — pumpkin style!
It didn’t take young Glen Shirley very long to realize that his laborious hobby, a hobby that took hours of intensive effort, had an extremely short shelf-life — and although he could capture images of each pumpkin before it met its mushy fate, he discovered he prefers creating art that has a chance of seeing more than one Halloween season. Enter the Funkin. Funkins are Styrofoam crafted pumpkin that can be carved and illuminated, and isn’t destined to certain decay like edible pumpkins. With that discover, Glen began taking requests and filling orders for dozens of pumpkins., none of which he would charge for. All he asks is that the pumpkin or Funkin be provided, and he takes care of the rest.
As an adult, Glen married another creative who understands, supports, encourages, and even assists with his pumpkin carving passion. In their first years together, Glen and his wife Kelly were producing 20 pumpkins each Halloween season, but after having their first child and the light of their life, that number is reduced to about four pumpkins per season… most of which are given away in good spirits with the joy of sharing the art. Glen uses his classic artistic style, blended with modern technology as he used 3D software to produce 8×10 printed images, which he then transfers to the pumpkin where it’s traced.
Once he’s traced his transfer and carved the outline, careful not to puncture through areas that require only shading, Glen lights the pumpkin with stringed lights, bringing the pumpkin, and his true creativity, to life.
“It’s hard to know when you’re done. You’re never done. There’s always more you can do, so you just have to make yourself stop.”
Spoken like a true artist.
Glen Shirley lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, Kelly, and their daughter, Brooke, who absolutely embodies the magical wonders her parents have demonstrated in their creative expressions and artistic appreciation.
Written by: Wendi Mitchell
Photographs by: James Mitchell