Who: Sheila Dunn is a Bend figure, animal and landscape painter with three concurrent Bend exhibits including a figures exhibit at The Workhouse, as well as prints at Velvet Lounge and OutsideIN.
Make it four shows if you count the landscape she painted on the frame of a bicycle for Crow’s Feet Commons over a few days while hunkered down in the Wallowas.
Q: I saw on Instagram where you asked other artists about their work habits — if they work in bursts, or if they have a consistent routine. How about yourself?
A: It seems like it is a little bit of both. I’m pretty consistent with the admin side, trying to keep up the whole business side of the painting, but sometimes, being self-employed, I can’t control the amount of work or commissions that come in, necessarily. So I think I do at times creatively operate in bursts, and a lot of super-late nights.
Q: Is three shows at once a record for you?
A: That’s more than usual. Velvet and OutsideIN are canvas prints of work that’s already sold. I generally have stuff up at a couple of places at once.
Q: You primarily paint figures. What drew you to figures?
A: I guess I’m interested in the human experience and how that can be portrayed through paintings. I haven’t been able to find a way to express some of that through words or photographs. There’s something unique in paintings that I think I can capture. When I’ve done commissions, one of the best compliments I can receive, and I sometimes hear, is that I’ve really captured the soul of someone, or the spirit of someone. I think there is some kind of unique voice I’ve been able to find with painting that articulates the human experience in a way.
Q: How did you end up painting the bike at Crow’s Feet Commons?
A: David Marchi, the owner, reached out. There’s a small bike company called Open Cycle. I guess all of the frames come raw, unpainted, to different bike shops. There were a couple of artists (elsewhere) who had painted these bikes. David had a big event over Memorial Day and he said, “It would be super cool to have a local artist hand-paint one of these bikes.” And so he asked me. I had never done anything in that format before, like that kind of composition of the bike is so different than the square canvas. We brainstormed, and we both agreed it would be cool to do a Central Oregon landscape. … It was a huge learning curve because my style is really painterly, kind of broad brush strokes that kind of blend into each other. That was not translating well to the bike. It was kind of a mess. I ended up painting over a lot of it and keeping some of that painterly style, but adding graphic components of really clean lines like you’d traditionally see on a bike. There’s been a super good response, and he wants to do 10 more.
Q: Are these going to be for sale?
A: Yeah, they’re going to be for sale. So he’s taking deposits for 10 more.
Q: That’s so cool.
A: Yeah, I know. I never thought I’d be painting bikes.
—David Jasper, The Bulletin