Shannon Bueker, Painting

Shannon Bueker Three Dogs in Creek

Shannon Bueker “Three Dogs in Creek”

I grew up the fifth of six children, spending most of my childhood in San Antonio, TX. My parents are the products of many generations of Texans, and despite many years of traveling in often exotic places, I still feel like Texas is home.

I have always drawn. I won my first competition in the fourth grade and have been taking art classes and making things ever since. I earned my BFA in 1987 from the University of Texas at Austin. My greatest challenge there was sculpture, my greatest relaxation painting, and my greatest joy life drawing.

Anatomy is fascinating to me and animal anatomy more so because it is so accessible and unhidden. That, and I think animals are just beautiful. My childhood sketchbooks are filled with drawings of the grown-up me as a zookeeper or artist surrounded by animals. So my path has always felt pretty clear.

People I’ve learned from

Living in Texas I was very influenced by Mexican art and culture. In college I discovered a big connection with the Mexican muralists – Sequeiros and Orozco, the way they composed and painted. Also the German expressionist Franz Marc for putting animals front and center as subject matter. Susan Rothenberg and Richard Diebenkorn for the layering of paint. Matisse for his perfect lines.

My dad was in the Air Force, and for a few years when I was in elementary school, we were stationed in Hawaii. I’m realizing lately just how much the Hawaiian culture, its mythology and animism, has been fueling my work as well.

My process or what I pursue

“on location” in Ireland

For me, the most compelling puzzle artistically has been and continues to be orchestrating line and color. The process of my painting is layering color and line, keeping wispy lines of charcoal, describing movement and strengths, and developing a rich, varied surface. I see my work as trying to reveal nature‘s grace and unfold the layers of interactions, interconnections and the surprising overlaps. These layers interest me alot.

As I layer paint, I think about “chunking,” as in, breaking light and color into chunks. This is a way of showing movement through things–like the way a branch moves through a shrub or tree foliage. It’s not a continuous line but a broken one because it gets overlapped and obscured by greenery.

The longer I paint, the more the paint itself and my marks and gestures are becoming the players in the composition. I want these elements to draw the eye the way figures in a landscape would. This is the beginnings of abstraction.

‘Where’s the animal?’ some have asked, always looking for an animal in my paintings. I don’t always look for an animal now. I have noticed that the animal is sometimes the quiet space within my composition, surrounded by activity, color and lines. Sometimes the area around the animal is more interesting to me than the animal. My question recently has been what does the quiet space look like if it’s not an animal?

Learning

There is always more to learn. I try to take classes at places where I can be away from my chores and commercial demands and just work on the work. Give it my complete attention. Recharge. This kind of exploration without thinking about results makes for leaps in the work. I used to think “oh, I do this full-time, I have a studio, what do I need to go work somewhere else for?” But now I understand how deadlines and external pressures pull me away from my center.

About my business’s namesake

Kato (after the Green Hornet’s sidekick and Inspector Clouseau’s driver), was our beloved know-it-all dog diva. It was my husband’s idea to call the biz “Not Now, Kato!” for the Pink Panther’s chauffeur/body guard who would come out of nowhere and defend/assault him. Kato was our first dog together as a couple and still our gold standard for what makes a good (smart aleck, neurotic, funny) dog.

 

Shannon Bueker

Shannon Bueker

Shannon Bueker, Painting