Sheila Kernan Dares to Dream
By: Drew Hoshkiw
| Posted: Thursday, Feb 09, 2012 06:00 am
After making the decision to pursue a career as an artist while working at the Canada House Gallery, Sheila Kernan has come full circle.
With a show titled Dare to Dream, the Calgary-based artist will be on hand Saturday (Feb. 11) for a show at the Banff gallery from 1-3 p.m.
“I worked at the gallery in 2001 for just under a year,” said Kernan in a recent interview. “I had already done my first year of art school in Kamloops and had then decided to take a year off to explore the mountains, and that’s when I worked at the gallery.
“While working at the gallery, I thought, ‘Nope, I want to go back to art school and pursue that,’ and my dream was always to one day be on Canada House’s walls. It’s neat how it came full circle, but it was being in that gallery that made me want to go back to school.”
Kernan, who began painting when she was very young, graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2006. In 2008, she was the featured artist of the Stampede Rotary Dream Home, which is where she got her big break.
“It was at that point that I decided to quit my job at a bank and become a full-time artist,” she said.
Now, getting to display at Canada House Gallery is a dream come true, she said.
“In some regards it’s unbelievable; it’s still in that ‘pinch me, am I really here?’ kind of stage – it’s absolutely amazing, everybody at the gallery is so welcoming, and it’s just nice to have that personal connection,” said Kernan. “Barb (Pelham) has that proud mama feeling towards me because I had worked for her when I was so young.
“I had always kept in touch with Barb and she was always guiding my career, helping me, giving me suggestions to help propel my career.”
Kernan’s work consists of large, colourful paintings of landscapes and cityscapes.
“My work is all about light and reflection and colour and sometimes the absence of colour with black and white,” she said. “I like the softness of my backgrounds, which are airbrushed and layered with washes – I’m playing with different spaces within the pieces.
“I’m really interested in light and colour, it’s almost like at nighttime when the neon lights of the streets dance and create an interesting play and I’m more excited about that than saying, ‘This is this street corner.’
“I like combining images, so I’ll take a building from San Francisco, New York, Calgary, Toronto, and mix it together and create my own composition. Within the nature scenes, I’ll do the same thing and take from different hikes that I do, and stick them together somehow.”
Elsewhere, Kernan has displayed her work at the Mayberry galleries in Toronto and Winnipeg, Assiniboia gallery in Regina and the Gibson Fine Art Gallery in Calgary.
“I’m always trying to find that next thing with building my practice and always looking for new influences and experiences and travelling,” she said. “I would eventually maybe like to take my work internationally, but for now, I’m focusing on building strong work and displaying across Canada.”
As most of her work has appeared in commercial galleries, Kernan needs to part with her paintings after they sell. This is something which actually helps to inspire her, she said.
“There’s always those few pieces that have that special connection and are harder to part with, but I almost feel like for me an art show is the celebration of a completed body of work,” she said. “It’s why I paint, it’s about sharing your expression with everybody. If you were to hold onto the work, I feel like that might inhibit you from the opportunity to explore and push yourself further.
“It’s sending your little children out into the world, which frees you up to push your boundaries in your artistic practice.”