Napa Valley area, CA USA
Mediums: Acrylic on canvas, mixed media acrylic on canvas
Style: Primarily abstract
Favorite Quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
Favorite Books: Duma Key, Just Kids, The Shack, Scar Tissue
Favorite Movies: Blazing Saddles, Back to the Future, The Wall, Ghostbusters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Breakfast Club
Springing to Life (Detail) © Dennis Sheil – This is a detail from a 20”x28” acrylic on canvas piece titled “Springing to Life”
I grew up in a small town in Western Iowa before joining the Air Force and “seeing the world.” I am a self-taught artist currently living in the Napa Valley area of Northern CA. I am a husband and a parent, and in addition to being an artist, I am also an office/field engineer, and a restaurateur.
My art is a reflection of the abstract life I lead; often times calming and peaceful, other times frenzied and chaotic. My work has been described as loose and free flowing, yet structured and detailed – all the while, maintaining an “organic” feel. As an artist I am very interested in the effects of both color and texture. The organic look and feel of my work brings a refined and developed feel to the paintings through a unique balance of composition, color, and texture.
Do you like to listen to music when creating art?
It varies quite a bit since I just hit “shuffle”, but is typically some sort of rock music. It could be anything from Tommy Bolin to Wishbone Ash, Rush to Tom Petty, Papa Roach to Bob Marley, Robin Trower to the White Stripes, Social Distortion to Thin Lizzy, the Black Keys to Stone Sour…
Below the Surface © Dennis Sheil – I wanted to do an intermediate size piece that evokes some questions and gives the illusion of being under water. 24”x36” acrylic on canvas board.
If you have a job other than being an artist, can you tell us about it?
I am an office/field engineer for a construction management firm. Additionally, my wife and I are owners of Rio Vista Pizza Factory in Rio Vista, CA. Both of these jobs are very rewarding, but also very stressful at times. Abstract and non-representational painting gives me an opportunity to let go of the finite, structured details I deal with as an office engineer and business owner. It is incredibly liberating and fulfilling to be able to “dump the data, let loose, and let the paint flow.”
What impressions would you like viewers to have when looking at your art?
Creating illusions of nature using acrylic, with the occasional inclusion of gold or silver, infuses the work with the energy I feel while painting. It’s my hope that as the viewer becomes lost in the work, they become charged with that same energy, while still experiencing the peaceful sense of visiting a strange and wonderful place.
Process for painting
Creating a painting can be challenging. When I pick up a brush, pallet knife, or even a spatula to start a new piece, I usually do not have an idea or concept in mind. I literally and figuratively start with a blank canvas and see where my mind takes me. My mood, the music I am listening to, and countless other factors in my life ultimately influence the colors, intensity, and complexity of the piece.
End of Days © Dennis Sheil –This is a very mysterious piece. I love hearing the stories viewers have for this piece. 16”x20” acrylic on canvas with gold leaf.
When I go into my studio to start a piece, the first thing I do is get some music playing. From that point, I try to figure out what direction I want to go with colors. Often times I start with one color palette in mind and end up with something completely different. At that point it is a matter of jumping in with both feet and seeing where it takes me. The nature of my work requires at least two steps in painting a piece; the initial abstract image is painted first, then after that portion dries, time with a liner or other fine brush for detail work. After I finish the detail work dries there are a number of steps. I sign and title the piece, photograph it, varnish it, log it into the database, post it on my website and on Facebook, print the Certificate of Authenticity, then finally frame it.
After a piece is complete, it is moved to a display easel in our living room. New paintings are always displayed there for a short time as I like to “live” with the piece for a while and get a feeling for it. After seeing the artwork in our living area every day for a while, it seems easier to talk about the piece to a collector. It’s hard to explain, but I seem to understand the piece more after seeing it on display.
As a long time art collector, I have been surrounded by the beauty of art for many years. This constant influence of art surrounding me fuels my passion for painting.
- Exhibited 5 works at the Napa County Fair
- Selected to exhibit two works in Vacaville Art League and Gallery 36th Annual Juried Art Show
- Currently exhibiting 9 works in the Solano County Fair juried exhibition
- FIRST PLACE - acrylic, abstract
- FIRST PLACE - acrylic, figurative
- SECOND PLACE - mixed media, abstract (acrylic and gold leaf)
- SECOND PLACE - acrylic, other ("other" meaning not abstract, figurative, landscape, or seascape)
- Exhibiting 30 works at the Art From the Heart benefit for SafeQuest Solano Fairfield, CA
August 3-September 2
This event will take place at Ethan Allen Showroom at 5111 Business Center Dr. Fairfield, CA 94534
A portion of all sales will be donated to SafeQuest Solano
- Exhibiting at the Art, Wine & Brew Festival in Vacaville, CA - August 31 and September 1
- Exhibiting in a two-person exhibition at Conn Creek Winery in Napa, CA - October 2013
- Upcoming exhibition at Blue Moon Gallery in Sacramento, CA – Date TBD
Tule Fog © Dennis Sheil – One of my favorites! Most people see birch trees on a foggy day – but you can see whatever you want in the piece. 16”x20” acrylic on canvas.
Are you selling your art?
Yes, I have sold artwork. It is available for sale on my website and is available at any of the events I participate in.
At this point I promote on my website and Facebook, and am in the process of organizing my Fine Art America gallery. I would definitely like to explore other avenues.
My biggest influence would have to be Tim Yanke. I was at an event a number of years ago as a collector, and the event featured work by Tim. I have to admit, at first glance I didn’t get it. After taking a closer look I became more and more fascinated by his work and it did not take long for me to fall in love with his style. Once he started describing some of the pieces I was hooked. I was blown away by the thought process, the amount of work, and the decisions he made while creating these wonderful abstract paintings. We commissioned a large piece from him at the event and look forward to our next one from him as well.
There are a few artists I admire, but there are a couple that really stand out above the rest. At the top of the list is world-renown artist Simon Bull. Simon is an artist than paints everything from the most delicate fine art to pop art style drip-art, and everything in between. I don’t think there is a style he has not mastered.
In addition to Simon Bull, I recently discovered a Scottsdale, AZ artist named Cyndy Carstens. Cyndy is inspired by the skies of Arizona and creates some of the most incredible sky-scapes you can imagine.
Another artist who’s work I love is Jess Black. Jess creates fascinating abstract pieces that often represent snippets of his life. I have not had an opportunity to collect any of his art yet – but I definitely will!
Napa Valley Crush © Dennis Sheil – This piece was inspired by the winemaking process in Napa, CA. 20”x28” Acrylic on canvas.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I spent twenty years in the Air Force, 11 of which were working inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. This is the underground location depicted in the movie “War Games.”
Any embarrassing moments?
Yes, a number of them. For example, at one point in my military career I was stationed at a tiny location in Alaska called Galena Air Base. While stationed in Alaska, I had family come visit me one summer and we did some sightseeing in the Fairbanks area. Since it was close to the 4th of July there were a lot of fireworks stands in the area. I thought it would be great to celebrate the holiday at our remote military location with some fireworks, so I stocked up on a number of colorful rocket-type fireworks. After my vacation, I got back to base and a friend asked me why I spent so much money on “nighttime” fireworks when we had 24 hours of daylight at that time of year! I couldn’t do anything but laugh at myself.
In life, if you could do it all over again, what would you do different?
As an art collector, the saying “If I knew then what I know now” could not be more appropriate! There are a number of artists I would have collected, or collected earlier when their work was more affordable. In the same light – I would definitely start my career as an artist earlier.
What are your future plans?
I would like to expand my gallery presence and earn a larger audience and customer base.
Advice for emerging artists
Stay level headed; don’t let praise or criticism get to you. Count on there being more rejection than acceptance of your work. And don’t forget the old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I have had a number of my pieces that I personally did not like but others were fascinated by them.