Shawn Demarest set up her French-style easel today with her palette positioned on the drawer of her easel between her canvas and her chair. To her left, she set up her photographic reference as though she were sitting outdoors viewing her subject to the side of her easel. Her painting today was inspired by a night-time photo she’d taken of traffic crossing the Ross Island Bridge south of downtown Portland. Shawn has spent a lot of time painting outdoors on location, or “en plein air.” This experience has helped her develop skills very useful to painters — quickly taking in a scene and making creative decisions about how to depict forms, light, and colors; selecting and mixing paints from a limited and harmonious range of colors; and choosing the appropriate level of detail to convey the mood and movement of a specific place and time.
Over the past year, a greater amount of Shawn’s work has occurred inside her studio. Painting indoors has allowed her to keep making paintings during our long, wet winter and as enabled her to work on more pieces at a time when preparing for shows. Painting in her studio also allows more time to work on each piece without having to worry about changing light or packing up at the end of the day. With more time to focus on each painting, she can take breaks to get some distance from her work and reflect on the direction her work is taking.
Shawn is inspired by the scenes and places she sees every day in her Southeast Portland neighborhood. When she’s planning a piece that she will work on indoors, Shawn likes to take photos outdoors that capture a special view or moment. Her plein air background enables her to keep these special moments fresh and alive in her paintings, even when working indoors away from her subjects.
click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.