– About –
Inspired by the everyday avenues of beauty that unfold en plein air or in the studio, Sheila McGregor is a bold artist who works primarily with acrylic paint.
Part of Sheila’s childhood story has been featured in Woman’s World Magazine and on the front page of a newspaper published in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in foster homes, Sheila changed schools over a dozen times. As the oldest of four children, Sheila took responsibility for caring for her younger siblings. Throughout the upheavals, the one constant in Sheila’s life was art class - a place where she felt she truly belonged.
Sheila was separated from her maternal grandmother at an early age, but this remarkable woman would be the role model Sheila looked to for guidance. “I remember watching my grandmother stop and sincerely listen and respond to whomever she met. It was important for her to look for a remnant of beauty in each story and person.” She passed her gift on to Sheila, enabling her to forge friendships while trying to navigate a constantly changing landscape where she was always ‘the new kid.’
Originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin, Sheila married and raised three children in Northwestern and Eastern Ontario. Experiencing motherhood and a sense of family has been an incredible part of her journey. She began painting in watercolour in 2002 with encouragement from her husband during their canoe trips. The thrill of being in the wilderness and discovering the creation around her reminded Sheila of the sense of belonging she felt as a child creating art. Thoughts of her grandmother took her on a journey to her birthplace where, standing at her grandmother’s grave for the first time, Sheila read her grandmother’s headstone, “GREAT LOVE LIVES ON”. Shortly after that trip, Sheila traveled to New York City to attend the International Arts Movement Conference. It was listening to founder and artist, Makoto Fujimura, speaking about how beauty feeds our soul and sharing his understanding of generative creativity that Sheila realized she needed to respond to the call of ‘GREAT LOVE’. Sheila found herself at a crossroads, contemplating the call of that romantic notion and wondering where it would take her.
After many trips to art galleries big and small, Sheila craved more, and began studying Art History, Figure, Still Life, and Landscape Drawing under the mentorship of professional artist, Jane Bonnell. Learning the dynamics of acrylic paint gave Sheila the opportunity to work large, which seemed necessary to her unfolding process. Sheila also realized painting in the open air of the Canadian landscape was vital to capturing the inspiration for her larger studio work. “At times, I am overwhelmed with the scene I’m in and I’m unable to paint, so I sit and listen like my grandmother taught me. There is a story to be told that I need to hear, and then I attempt to paint the remnants of beauty that are shared.”
Since 2009, Sheila has lived in Deep River, Ontario where she currently works out of her studio. She has expanded her repertoire, delving into clay, printmaking, fibre art, and artistic design for local theatre productions, recently working on set design for “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Acceptance and participation in the 2014 Pontiac Artists Association Residency was a catalyst for Sheila’s growth, both personal and creatively, and she has remained an active member of the organization since. Attending workshops and building a peer group has been key to Sheila’s creative development. Sheila has participated in group and solo exhibitions in galleries throughout the Ottawa Valley. With the desire to continue to grow as an artist, Sheila is developing her business acumen through the Art Business Academy developed by Jason Horejs of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Sheila hopes that her work will bring encouragement to the discouraged and beauty to the broken.
“I’ve recently been commissioned by a husband to create a painting for his wife. It’s an incredible honour that something I’ve created would be part of their expression of love.”
Algonquin Park, Ottawa River, Ottawa Valley... these are just some of the places where Sheila travels to capture glimpses of creation.
In her studio sanctuary Sheila produces works inspired by drawings done on location.
Some of Sheila's completed paintings have the preliminary sketches available, providing a rare insight into her process and vision.