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Your Art Can Change the World~

I had to do an artist's talk yesterday at the close of my solo show at Woodfield Fine Art. What I most want to communicate to people is to broaden your interpretation of art-Art is more than just a pretty picture.

Art is:

  1. The process of making art -this may be in a class setting, like Plein Air Adventure where we meet at sites that are ecologically sensitive, we raise awareness at the same time that we build a sense of community with each other. This is the power of art.

  2. The finished painting -the painting has its own message, mine often depict the resiliency of nature and how the hand of man has affected the Earth. This is the meaning of the painting-all paintings have meaning, even if you don't intend it to that in itself is a meaning. Think about how you skim a newspaper article and put it down, promptly forgetting it, but with a painting, you may mull it over in your mind for days. Visual imagery makes a more lasting impression on the audience than the written word.

  3. How the painting affects the world- this is what happens when you hang the painting. Think of Picasso's Guernica hanging in the UN and how they had to drape it to announce the start of a war. Your painting affects the world, sometimes subtly sometimes like a hammer. I had a painting called "She Nourishes" hanging in the airport in NY. It was removed for being "obscene" because of the breastfeeding mother in the lower panel (which was a self portrait BTW) I sent out a press release and within a week we held a Nurse-In with hundreds of breast feeding mothers in the airport, the newspapers were buzzing with stories about it and editorials, and it even made the NY Times.

She Nourishes, Polyptych, Pastel 36x48

I'm proud of that painting and stood behind it all the way. Art can be a powerful force for social change.

I look at my art as part performance and part painting. They go hand-in-hand. The finished product - a framed painting - is really like reaching a destination. The joy is truly in the journey.

Success is defined differently for each of us. Many of you have despaired to me that you haven't sold a painting, or gained gallery representation. These are forms of success, but they are not the only forms of success. Think about what success actually looks like for you.

For me, success is seeing the artists I work with in classes start to take off and bloom into the artists they were always meant to be. Success is that I make a living (a very humble one, but it's a living) off of my art, and in a way that I feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose on this planet.

The process of artmaking is equally important to me as the finished product. I am inspired when I paint with a group of people and we do something challenging. When I see you challenge yourself to paint the sun while it is setting, it inspires me to try harder, be bolder, go brighter, do hard things. I hope you feel the same when you see me painting beside you.

Nocturne class group critique

We also have to get our work out there if we want to see how it relates to the rest of the world. You can't just paint, and tuck it away in a closet somewhere. People need to see your work. Doesn't matter if its in a gallery, just post it on social media, or hang it on your own wall.

Those who take classes with me know I am relentless when it comes to pushing you to frame it and put it in a group show. It reinforces the fact that you are an artist and you created something worthy of a frame and people's attention. You need for people to see your work, otherwise it's like music that no one hears!

Tomorrow we hang a group show for Plein Air Adventure, and it will be on view at East Lake Community Library for the next month or so. Please take a moment to visit the show and see artwork that changes the world. These paintings were made on location, sensitive ecological places in our area, by heartfelt, brave artists who are daring themselves to grow. A portion of the sales goes to three local nonprofits who are preserving these sites. Be inspired by these artists, just as I am.

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3 ความคิดเห็น

Love meeting you and being a part of your groupies!


What inspires me the most Shawn is YOU! Your sincerity, encouragement and faith in your students keep me trying, laughing at my own mistakes and having fun, all at the same time! It was so great to see your exhibit online and to hear the symbolism behind each piece. You just never cease to amaze me and this is why I consider you my art mentor….you don’t just show us the techniques to use but also all the other facets an artist has to deal with in the process of creating, plus, you make us practice them. I’m so very grateful we have crossed paths along this journey! Ali 💜


Shawn this is just what I needed to hear about art making! Thank you for being so open about your experiences and encouraging your students to be their best!

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