The work of acrylic abstract painter, Sheila Neufeld, captures the very essence of her experiences throughout her well-traveled life. She invites her viewer to share in her love of the natural world and entices with her signature use of light, texture, and shimmering effects. Neufeld derives inspiration for her powerful, abstract pieces from her childhood growing up in Saskatchewan. In addition, her travels around the world as well as her spiritual practice have contributed to a deeper connection to her work, allowing for new dimensions and an even greater source of inspiration.
Growing up in a small rural town in Saskatchewan, Canada, Neufeld was surrounded by majestic sunsets, fierce thunderstorms and quiet, expansive landscapes that helped cultivate her later inspirations to create. She and her brother were often outdoors in the warm months. “Being from a small town we could see for miles and walk or bike outside without thinking about watching out for cars. We explored without fear and loved it. Our home was on a one acre property with a large garden and lots of different kinds of trees.Our family also traveled and took many road trips in the summertime. I have always been an explorer and being from such a small town I was eager to always see more. We loved being on the road and looking at all the different landscapes with their colors and shapes. Nature was always a part of my life and I loved seeing all its expressions.”
Neufeld’s desire to expand her horizons by leaving her Saskatchewan upbringings right after high school and brought her across country eventually to Vancouver. She was fascinated by the lush flora and fauna with all its colors and vibrancy. After a hiatus from her art which lasted for over a decade Neufeld felt that something was missing. and decided to enroll in some art classes. Neufeld had been working towards a Kinesiology major and she was so drawn to art switched to the Fine Arts Diploma Program at Langara College in Vancouver. “Going into the Fine Arts Program in College was a wonderful decision. The program was very hands on and gave me the discipline I needed to pursue art full time.”
Neufeld was inspired in college in her last term by Georgie O’Keeffe’s flower paintings. “She expressed so fully the beauty and natural sensuality of life in those flowers. I knew in the last term at Langara that I was going to pursue painting. Other friends of mine decided to go further in their education but I felt at that time that I had what I needed in my education and it was time to sell some art.” After selling a piece in her first group show she invested her savings into a wall at a Design Show in Vancouver. “ I still remember that show” she reflects “People were crowded around the art and I sold almost my whole show in 3 days. I decided I was going to pursue art full time.”
Neufeld currently resides in Vancouver, Canada and has been painting full time for over a decade. The nature that she has experienced throughout her life and which surrounds her everyday has been a huge influence on her two most recent expressive endeavors “Creation” and “Universe” These series are about her connection to the earth; its beauty and complexity and the boundlessness of the sky and beyond. She invites the viewer to experience her joy of the profound expansive nature of life by her signature use of light and depth that she has called “The Shimmer.” The depth created through this process to me is a mirror of the mystery and complexity of life itself.”
She continues to work intuitively and fully enjoys creating layer by layer until each piece is finished. “I just know when a piece is done. It just feels right. I let the painting come through the way it wants to be, without trying to force the process. It becomes something beautiful.”
I am always drawn to colors, compositions, light and feeling. While the theme of my work is consistent, each piece is newly discovered as I create layer by layer with acrylic paints, gloss mediums, iridescent pigments and various textures to convey a luminous, multidimensional effect. My process is unique as I inlay my art with natural and/or Swarovski crystals and their sands to create “The Shimmer.” This effect gets picked up with different light sources, hopefully reminding the viewer of the magical nature of life itself.”
The greatest challenge with my work is creating complexity on such a small scale, Acrylic has to be worked in a certain way, as it does not have the natural depth of oil paints. I feel the layering process overcomes these challenges.
I know the piece is successful when the technical aspects balance with the feeling I want to convey. It brings me joy when I can convey the expansive nature of creation with my paintbrush.”