A browse through Shannon Lawlor’s online gallery explains why she is considered by Western Fine Art Collectors to be a premier bridle horse illustrator. Her paintings tap into our imaginations, yet also capture, with energy and spirit, real-life moments of working stock horses, ranching families and riders. A striking feature of her work is the animation in the faces of her equine subjects, something that is often lacking in animal art. Other pieces by Shannon include detailed and memorable close up images of inanimate objects such as spurs, knots, and chapetons, which are so fascinating to lovers of historical Western riding traditions.
Shannon never knew a life without horses. She had Welsh Ponies as a child and then grew up on a ¾ Arab Gelding, whom she describes as “….the horse that shaped everything for me.” Shannon has always worked in the horse/agricultural business - as a veterinary assistant, starting colts, working on cattle ranches and in feedlots. She had not planned on being an artist; however, as she embraced the desire to paint and with horses as her clear inspiration, she realized that art as a business was quite possible, and made that transition 8 years ago.
Like the development of any business, building a name for Shannon Lawlor Fine Art Inc. has taken time and dedication. It requires being on the road at shows and doing what Shannon calls “brush mileage”, consistently spending a lot of time in her studio in Nanton, Alberta, perfecting and honing skills. She devotes weeks at a time to researching her subject matter and in addition, wears all the hats the average self-employed business person must wear, keeping up with office tasks and coordinating multiple Art and Trade show events.
“I keep reinventing myself,” Shannon says, “because I want to improve as an artist. My vision is constantly changing. Of course, raising your own bar can be the most challenging thing to undertake.”
Shannon sees forward thinking as imperative in the equine art business. She is inspired by the many great equine artists in Western Canada alone and she finds support in meeting them at the trade shows to be the best form of professional development.
Shannon still has finger paintings of horses from her kindergarten days and it is evident that her joy in her work is simply a passion for the equine. She continues to seek out the horses that inspire her as subjects. What is her advice to others who want to pursue a career in equine art?
“You need to have faith that it is going to work. Be prepared to pay your dues, to do without, and to keep at it.”
This discipline and commitment have served Shannon well over the past 8 years. Her art is featured on international magazine covers, including Western Horseman, and on television for Canadian Cowboy Country. She has an impressive list of awards in art competitions across the country, most recently first place in the Ex Arte Equinus International Competition for Art Horse Magazine in Beaumont, Texas 2011/2012 with her painting of Casey, a Grade Percheron stallion. Shannon is the only artist to have placed first twice in this competition. She continues to participate in many invitational arts shows, including the Calgary Stampede, Phippen Museum and the Greeley Stampede.
About the Artist:
Shannon resides in Alberta where traditional bridle horse culture is strong. Her images portray the working stock horse and pay tribute to working horsemen and horses alike maintaining old traditions throughout North America. Visit Shannon at: www.shannonlawlor.com
Carol Upton (604) 886-8951
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