Dennis Sheehan was the second of four boys in his family, and is the only one who had an interest in the arts. Realizing his young son had a passion for art, Sheehan’s father would take him to museums and art shows. Sheehan’s more practical mother hoped he might choose to go into business or law. Once she was convinced that Sheehan was adamant about pursuing a career in art, both of his parents were very supportive. After high school, Sheehan spent the next four years at Vesper George School of Art, in the Boston area, where he studied under Robert Hunter Douglas. Sheehan was searching to find where he belonged in the art world and Hunter’s traditional and realistic style made a huge impression on him.
Sheehan went on after graduation to Montserrat School of Visual Arts, also in Boston, for two more years. He studied under George Gabin, who paints in a tight and traditional style. There, he learned the technique of American Tonalism, the contrast between light and dark, and adopted the style as his own. Sheehan became fascinated by the subtle tones and chords of light on landscape during transitional moments: dusk, dawn, or the time immediately before or after storms when small amounts of light and color in an otherwise somber environment produce piercingly beautiful effects. “My goal is to have the painting emanate light,” the artist explains. “This is why the areas of shadow are so important, for it is from them that this emanation proceeds.”
Sheehan has work in major public and private collections, from the Guild of Boston Artists to The White House. Sheehan paints in the Barbizon mode with remarkable authority and faithful adherence to his 19th century predecessors. In the tradition of the Tonalist painters, Sheehan creates landscapes of mood affected by nature’s changing seasons. As one might imagine, Sheehan lives in the country along with his two sons and a daughter, and he has recently remarried. In his spare time, Sheehan has a large library of art books and likes to “discover” new, undiscovered artists.