At 20 I painted my first plein air painting. It was a church bell tower. I remember mixing a pale orange that juxtaposed with a cool lavender. Both colors of the same stone, but in sun and shade. It opened my eyes to the beauty and mystery of color and the way it depicts light. At 23 I moved to Taos, NM for three years to paint outside and learn what I could from New Mexico artists I admired. Workshops with Rod Goebel and David Barbero in particular impacted my work. From 2005-2019 I developed a body of work that explored streetscapes in Portland, Oregon. During this time I sought out residencies in high desert and desert settings (Playa Summer Lake, Mojave National Reserve, and Helene Wurlitzer). Relocating to northern New Mexico after 15 years painting cityscapes in Portland OR, brings me full circle and returns me to a place I love like no other.
The same motivation to find color relationships propels me. I combine that with a desire to storytell. That is, to listen for the story in a painting; what is it saying and how can I bring that to life?
My work has its foundation in observation. I continue to paint en plein air. My practice also embraces painting from memory, sketch and photo reference. Exploring relationships between observed color, I deepen my practice through painting rhythmic studies of color stripes or shapes. These studies began during a 2012 residency to Playa Summer Lake and continue to the present.
Shawn Demarest received a BFA from the University of Colorado with a focus on printmaking and painting, a BA in Mathematics, and a scholarship to attend the Cleveland Institute of Art's program in Lacoste, France. Later studies led to an MA in Architecture. Demarest is the recipient of RACC (Regional Arts and Culture Council) Individual Project Grants and a Professional Development Grant. She was awarded residencies to Playa Summer Lake, Mojave National Preserve, The University Club of Portland, and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Demarest has multi-panel installations in Portland's Rivereast Building and the library of Portland Community College. She has individual paintings in RACC's Portable Works Collection, Oregon Health and ScienceUniversity (OHSU), Touchmark West Hills, and Gladys McCoy Health Department Headquarters.
Shawn Demarest was represented by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) Gallery in Seattle, WA when living in the PNW.
In 2020 she moved from Portland, OR to El Rito, NM.