Artist of the Week 46
Dennis Sheehan’s work is often described as reminiscent of the great masters of the Barbizon School, in France in the 19th century, and the American Tonalist. Born in Boston in 1950, he has works in major public and private collections, including the White House. His work has been featured in many publications including the featured cover of American Artist.
Dennis Sheehan was the second of four boys in his family, and is the only one who had an interest in the arts. Realizing his young son had a passion for art, Sheehan’s father would take him to museums and art shows. Sheehan’s more practical mother hoped he might choose to go into business or law. Once she was convinced that Sheehan was adamant about pursuing a career in art, both of his parents were very supportive.
Dennis Sheehan received his training in the best traditions of the Boston School, studying at the Vesper George School of Art and the Montserrat School of Visual Art. He also studied with two of R.H. Gammell’s former students, Robert Cornier and Richard Whitney. Like his great nineteenth century predecessor George Inness, whose influence is consciously acknowledged, Sheehan employs the dark palette and thickly pigmented surfaces of the French Barbizon School.
Sheehan, like Inness before him, eschews picturesque scenery in the interest of evoking atmospherics. Also like Inness, Sheehan’s paintings are produced in the studio from his imagination. For all of the references to history- and there are multiple- there is no mistaking the artist’s debt to the more recent past. Without the legacy of action painting, Sheehan’s art would be less forceful and evocative than it is.
Sheehan’s pastoral paintings evoke the moody beauty and deep peace of nature. Mysterious and breathtaking, his paintings capture the beholder and transport them into serene landscapes that have reverence for nature’s poetic and changing seasons.
“The transitional period of dusk, dawn, before and after a storm, and even those grayed out days in winter when the sun’s light is most effusive, these are the qualities of light that I am most interested in. My goal is to have the paintings emanate light, rather than just be a surface that records the reflection of light.
“This is why the shadow areas are important, for it is form that this emanation precedes. The light areas are focal points of this effort, but the power comes from the shadows.”
Sheehan has work in major public and private collections, from the Guild of Boston Artists to The White House. Sheehan paints in the Barbizon mode with remarkable authority and faithful adherence to his 19th century predecessors. In the tradition of the Tonalist painters, Sheehan creates landscapes of mood affected by nature’s changing seasons. As one might imagine, Sheehan lives in the country along with his two sons and his daughter. In his spare time, Sheehan has a large library of art books and likes to “discover” new, undiscovered artists.
Contact Lily Pad Gallery West for information on pricing and to view additional works by Dennis Sheehan.