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Brian Shields

Brian Shields


My paintings and works on paper are an expression of energy, emotion, and fuerza. They often begin with an image from nature or a color I am drawn to, a mood or a feeling left over from a dream, or in reaction to other creative expressions. I may begin by drawing without a conscious image, allowing a first stroke of the brush or graphite on the canvas to lead the way. I add to it, subtract from it, scratch it all up, looking for the life, the contrast, the surprise.

I grew up in Spain during the Franco era, came of age in Paris, London, New York, and San Francisco. I made my home in the mountains and mesas and within the rich cultural diversity that is southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

While teaching art in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, I discovered the “wild west” and the dao of living from the land by farming, hunting, and fishing the Culebra Mountains, and by guiding expeditions into wilderness rivers and canyons throughout the southwest. I began painting the landscape then, and as an artist I became aware of the contradiction inherent in finding serenity and adventure in an idyllic landscape whose very existence was and is threatened.

I spent 26 years as professional environmental advocate, organizing and leading collaborations on behalf of the waters of New Mexico and the creatures that depend on those waters. In 2015, I transitioned to a full-time painting practice outside of Taos, New Mexico. My work is inseparable from the values, experiences, and artistic influences of my past, as well as contemporary preoccupations with eco-disasters, medical interventions, divisive politics, and artificial intelligence – and what can and should be done to care for our planet.

I am currently working on three distinct bodies of work: zen-inspired ink paintings on paper; mural-sized abstract landscapes in oils on canvas; and large lyrical mixed-media paintings, including an ongoing collaboration with the poet, Sawnie Morris.

As with a dream, I am in the painting while I am creating it.


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