Meet the Artist Interview Series - Deborah Shea

Updated: Aug 15

Editor’s Note:

We have all been missing genuine connection in this very difficult year. The Main Gallery’s Meet the Artist Interview Series was born in the hardship of that absence. We have missed you, our friends, neighbors, colleagues and patrons, and missed the magic of seeing art morph into a new form based on your reaction to what you see. No digital image can take the place of seeing original art in person: the size, the texture, the movement… the tiny, crafted details that mark the artist’s journey of choices through the piece.

Until we have the opportunity to see you in person, we thought you might like to know a little bit more about the unique and talented group of artists that make up The Main Gallery. It isn’t a substitute for our genuine interest in you and the connections that make us thrive, but we hope it helps give you a bit of a sense of the person behind the art. Please let us know your thoughts on this series, and what you’d like to hear more about. Click here for contact options:

The Main Gallery

We’d love to hear from you!

Where did you grow up and how do you think that influenced your art?

I was born and raised in San Francisco. My family was very artistic, and we went to many exhibitions at museums and galleries. There were long discussions on the merits of certain artists, art movements and styles. I have a particular memory of my mother and grandmother having a long discussion about the color blue…

The Girl Who Loved Yellow, 41” x 41”, pastel on paper

When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?

I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. I was always drawing and painting when I was a kid, and ultimately chose to pursue a creative path professionally. I was a designer, illustrator and creative director for many years. I worked in tech, professional services, manufacturing and retail industries, and I owned my own marketing and design firm for about

ten years.

When would you say you actually began to fully identify as an artist?

In 2017 I left the commercial world and decided to devote myself to my art full time. I also had a health scare in 2018 that even further deepened my commitment to follow my passion.

What life experiences would you say have had the biggest impact on your art to date?

I did an arts summer program in SF with Ruth Asawa when I was fourteen. She was wonderful and so down-to-earth. She drew all the time in a sketchbook with a black sharpie. Also Wayne Thiebaud was a professor of mine at UC Davis - I was so in awe of his ability to paint and his exquisite use of color.

Take Your Breath Away, 60” x 40”, pastel on paper

What was Wayne Thiebaud like as a teacher?

He was an extremely successful painter even then, and he was a great teacher - very humble and very generous with his time. He brought in some drawings he owned by the renowned American painter John Singer Sargent. They were incredibly beautiful, and seeing the work up so close inspired me to try to be that good.

Violet Dreamer, 41” x 41”, pastel on paper

Which media do you use currently?

I currently work primarily in soft pastels. I love them. The colors and the feeling of drawing on the sanded pastel paper make for a rich and tactile experience. I also paint in acrylics and work with felted knitting.

Have any other particular artists influenced your style?

When I was in 4th grade I visited the De Young Museum in SF with classmates from school and saw an exhibition of Georgia O’Keefe’s work. I had never seen anything like her painting before, and it made a profound impression on me. The colors in her work and the different items from nature she painted seemed so personal and beautifully expressed. I also saw a Van Gogh exhibit with my mother, and I was entranced with his color choices and the fantastic emotional texture of his painting.

What captivates your attention sufficiently for you to go for a new painting or begin a new piece?

It is hard to say exactly, but something will speak to me and I won’t be able to stop thinking about it. It might happen immediately or even years later. The beauty and emotional content readily available in nature and in the world never cease to amaze me.

What do you enjoy the most about your studio space?

I love having a dedicated space just for my art where I can go in and really focus… and then leave it as-is and walk out the door. It is an investment in my belief in myself and my work.

What are the most challenging aspects of being an artist?

It can be a lonely process at times.

Do you think viewing original art is different than seeing digital or prints?

I do because the scale can make such an impact, and also the colors and subtle modeling can get lost in a digital representation or print.

Working on Captive, 30" x 20”, pastel on paper

Where can an interested viewer find your work?

I have a show currently up at Filoli in Woodside until the beginning of September. Work is also posted on my website. I have paintings for sale here at The Main Gallery in Redwood City, and at Viewpoints Gallery in Los Altos.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working on art?

I love long distance running, (I’ve run 10 marathons including one on the Great Wall of China). I love to knit and crochet, read, bake, decorate, kayak and spend time with my family and my 3 rescue dogs: Petey, Lucy and Rosie.

What can you tell us that most people don’t know about you?

I have no vision in my right eye as a result of an accident when I was a baby. I think it has made me even more appreciative of the visual world - if that is possible!

What do you hope collectors and patrons take away from your art?


Remembering You, 12” x 16”, pastel on board

883 Santa Cruz Avenue, Suite 1

Menlo Park, CA 94025

© 2020 - The Main Gallery

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter