Shirley Ernst was born in Erie PA in 1934. She began her formal painting studies in 1951 with Joseph Plavcan. In 1952 she won the Joseph and Emily Lowe Foundation award which included a full tuition four-year scholarship to art school. She used her scholarship to study painting at the Syracuse University School of Art and graduated with a BFA in 1956. After working in New York City for a year, she moved to Iowa to study printmaking with Mauricio Lasansky and drawing with James Lechay at the University of Iowa. In 1959 she was awarded 2nd prize in the Chautaqua Association National Jury Show, and also won the Janet Bellinger Parker award for her painting of the Erie waterfront. She painted very little through the 70’s and 80’s but returned to it in the mid 90’s. She studied painting in 1997 with Angelo Ippolito and drawing with Don DeMauro at SUNY Binghamton. She is currently a member of the Cooperative Gallery 213 in Binghamton, NY.