Andrea Shields was born in San Francisco and raised in the neighborhood of North Beach, long a lively Italian district as well as a sometime hangout for counterculture celebrities in the '50s and '60s. As a young girl, she began her art studies at the prestigious DeYoung Museum School of Art in Golden Gate Park, occasionally exhibiting at one of the North Beach art galleries on Grant Avenue. As a young adult, she continued her studies in art by apprenticing with successful professional artists in California.
Ms. Shields attended the University of Oregon at Eugene, majoring in philosophy and psychology. Nevertheless, she established herself in the then energetic art community in Eugene and continued to work in many artistic media: oils, watercolors, metal sculptures, and mixed media.
In the early 1970s, Ms. Shields came to central Illinois for graduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since then, except for spending four years in North Carolina, where her husband was serving as an artist-in-residence, she has made Champaign her home. Since arriving in Illinois, she has continued to produce and exhibit paintings and mixed media pieces, while at the same time working professionally in other fields.
The beauty of the old San Francisco neighborhoods and of the ocean and hills of the surrounding California countryside which were her visual inspiration during her formative years, along with her lifelong studies in philosophy, psychology, music, religion, and yoga have had a profound effect on her art. These influences have fostered an artistic voice that speaks both of the external world of nature and the interior world of the psyche.
For the last twenty years, Ms. Shields has worked predominantly in watercolor. Some of these paintings are mixed media in that they combine collage with watercolor or add some other material to the painting, such as strips of wood, feathers , or Mexican silver milagros. She does not use the typical watercolor technique of thin transparent washes of paint. Rather, she applies her paint more heavily, often with a palette knife, producing an image that may at first appear to be a picture done in oil.
Thus, her paintings are highly textured with thickly applied paint and overlayed paper and objects. The paintings’ surfaces dance with vivid colors. Dynamic effects are created by the contrast of areas of bold color with areas of subtle detail or gentle gradation of tone. Occasional passages are near monochromatic with delicate line and hue.
Ms. Shields’ paintings stand between the abstract and the figurative. In her works, figures and forms and personages are evoked out of backgrounds. They confront us or console us, perhaps making us aware of the figures that emerge from the backgrounds of our own consciousness.
View pictures of paintings by Andrea Shields.
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