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Shanna Shearer: Artist Feature

Shanna Shearer Artist, Teacher, Painter, Juror, SHCA Board Member

Artist's Website:


Shanna Shearer received her BFA from GVSU and is a painter living in Pullman, Michigan. She works in a variety of mediums, including oil, watercolor, pigmented paper pulp, and ink. Shanna has been in a number of exhibitions, including a solo exhibition in 2019 at ARS Gallery. She has been a recurring visiting artist/guest speaker at GVSU, and an exhibition juror, and published in Studio Visit Magazine. Shanna is also a recipient of the Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency Fellowship. Shanna’s first exposure to the South Haven Center for the Arts was attending exhibition openings, and then as a participant in the 2019 juried exhibition, "Innovations in Fiber." Shanna joined the SHCA board in September of 2020.

"9_7", small vignettes series, Shanna Shearer


For a long time my work was a series of ambitious allegories based on my interest in human psychology and human relationships with each other, our environment, and its inhabitants. Stripping away the symbolism and narrative of this earlier work, my painting turned toward the formalities and synchronicity of painting and seeing, to focus on light, shape, color, and brushwork. These small oil paintings and pigmented pulp paintings referenced domestic environments and objects, to create expressive and dramatic vignettes that represented quiet moments of the everyday. My time in the studio with this work was silent and focused, concentrated on finding moments of interest that often borders on abstraction.

This emphasis on engaging with the act of painting in a way that requires focused visual and mental definition paralleled my interest in finding the significance in the visually mundane. This way of painting signified an important shift from seeing a painting as a narrative to seeing it as a spatial and tonal story told by the paint itself. This shift inspired a new series of watercolor paintings whose loose, watery properties lend well to using the medium itself to tell the story instead of relying on narrative.

Left to right: "Boy and Girl" large scale Allegorical Series; "WT_2", "WT_8" watercolors, by Shanna Shearer


The paintbrush is a tool I cannot live without. Not only is it a physical extension of my limb, it is the only thing that can translate visual and mental information in a way that feels significant for me.


I am a pretty traditional painter and use typical painter's tools to work. However, for my last series of watercolor paintings referencing Lake Superior, I used water from the lake to make the paintings. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do . . . make the subject literally a part of the work.

Studio shots, my palette and brushes, my art books/references


Shanna Shearer is a South Haven Center for the Arts artist member. As a benefit of this membership level, we are proud to be featuring artist members on our blog. If you are an artist member and would like to be featured, email us at Interested in becoming an artist member? See more information here:

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