Victoria artist Dennis Shields is a prolific artist with a painting career spanning four decades.
He has exhibited widely on Vancouver Island and the Mainland. His artworks are in international collections and available at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s Rental Department.
Dennis Shields is a familiar face around the Rockland neighbourhood, striding along sidewalks or enjoying the beauty of Government House from a bench. As well as fresh air and exercise, Shields receives inspiration for his full time painting practice on these outings. His artistic process is nourished by the manifestations of light and colour that enliven our world.
“When a painter stands in front of his easel and paints, he is making journeys; and on these journeys, having experiences; and the experiences penetrate more deeply than any others he could possibly have.” (Gerard Wagner: The Art of Colour)
Born in Vancouver, Shields toured Great Britain and Europe in 1972. He was a student of Gerald Wagner from 1973-1977 at the Rudolph Steiner Institute (Goetheanum) in Switzerland. The Goetheanum, named after colour-theorist Goethe, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. The word anthroposophy means “awareness of one’s humanity” and involves the search for spirit in our lives.
After four decades of painting, Shields remains steadfast in his quest to reveal the creative forces within the Being of colour. Colour, for Shields, has an inner vibrational life that sustains and shapes his artwork. The colour wheel shows all tints and hues are inter-related to form a whole. "The colour Being breathes and finds context in the world," says Shields
In 2007, Shields research received inspiration from a book titled: The Inner World of Colour by J. Benson. The scholar's philosophical studies of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water, concludes that the essence of colour illuminates all matter. Four colours: black, white, yellow and red are sometimes associated with these elements. The modern physics of colour was introduced by Newton.
Shields uses the plant archetype to express how spirit integrates into corporeal reality. The plant, born from a tiny seed of possibility, achieves luxurious abundance with effortless ease, then fades away. In this cycle of life and death, the plant demonstrates the miraculous nature of seedling and rebirth. “My aim is to live within this process that includes decay and regeneration,” he says. The artist notes that the colour green shows these tendencies by ranging from freshly buoyant to deeply mysterious.
The vase motif is prevalent in the artist’s work and acts as a focus of gravity from which the plant finds its roots. “All life is integrated,” he says, “as above, so below.” The vase motif adds shape and volume to the composition, offering gestural possibilities, balance and proportion. Recurring patterns, geometric shapes, light and shadow, and layering effects delight the eye. Shields hopes viewers will hear the silent poetry of colour in the language of his paintings.
The artist often prepares the painting with an undercoating of strong primary colour: cadmium red, yellow or Prussian blue. He creates textural interest by adding tissue paper and gesso to the ground. This pre-toning allows the mood of the painting to emerge.
Shields believes the various moods correspond to four basic temperaments found in humans: sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic. Like Cezanne, the great pre-modernist painter, Shields desires to explore painterly sensations and colour ideas associated with emotions, moods and personality types. Cezanne and his contemporaries revolutionized art-making by adding contemplative and visionary images to the romantic realism of their time.
Dennis Shields welcomes your interest in his artwork. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
In August 2016 Dennis Shields contributed seven new paintings for this webpage (completed in March). The new works profile his abstract, non-representational works and draw on the influence of Neo-Plasticism. Developed by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian around 1918, Neo-Plasticism or “New Art” promoted a pure type of abstract art with strict rules of geometric design.
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Kate Cino previewed arts events for 18 years at Boulevard.
She has a History in Art degree and Public Relations certificate from the University of Victoria.
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