Shannon Lewis


Abstract artist Shannon Lewis organizes her paintings around the idea of space. “I’m interested in liminality, the spaces between things,” she says. “I love looking at X-rays because you can see through the skeleton. It holds us up as people, but it looks so soft. I like those kinds of opposites.”
  Lewis, 57, who moved to Portland from Los Angeles 20 years ago, grew up in a family of
artists and painted as child, but put art on the back burner while she raised a family. It was only after her children had grown that she rediscovered painting. “I went back to school at Portland State University for an art degree when I was about 45,” she says. “I took one art class, and the
painting bug was back bad.”
  Lewis paints on wood panels, which she constructs in a large studio in her home, where she works on her art three to five hours a day. “I cut the wood, glue it, gesso it and get the surface clean and nice and make sure the wood is square,” she says. “It’s like building furniture.”
Most of her painting is done using oil paints. “I’ll use acrylics in a pinch if I need a painting to dry fast, but it isn’t the same,” she says. “With oil paint, you can mix it on the painting. It’s really a wonderful medium. I like the way it feels and smells. It’s rich and it dries slowly.”
  Lewis begins most of her paintings without a specific design in mind and then watches to see what unfolds. “I put the paint on, and then I stand back and see where it’s going,” she says. “Sometimes the painting is more about structure and sometimes it’s more about atmosphere. The painting tells me what to do, and it’s my job to pull it together.” The 15-inch by 15-inch oil-on-wood painting (above) costs $550. Most of Lewis’ paintings range from $500 to $2,300.
Contact abstract painter Shannon Lewis through Amy Caplan of Caplan Art Designs (503-319-6437) or go to