The 2019 Ducks Unlimited Canada National Art Portfolio will have a definite Westman flavor to it this year.
Celebrated equine artist Shannon Lawlor, who grew up in Kenton, Man., was one of eight Canadian artists to have her work selected from hundreds of submissions for the 2019 Ducks Unlimited (DU) art program. Lawlor also had a piece selected in 2018. Both depict what she considers her passion in life – horses.
“I consider myself an equine artist,” she said while on the road near her new home of Nanton, Alta., near Calgary. “Horses are my life. They have been a love of mine for as long as I can remember.”
That love began as a youth in the small community of Kenton, which is located about 70 kilometers northwest of Brandon. Lawlor lived near the edge of the small hamlet, which couldn’t have had more than 200 people living there. Her home’s location allowed her family to have a barn to house horses. With little more than pencil and paper, Lawlor unknowingly began training for her future career as a renowned artist.
“We had a barn on the outskirts of town and we always had horses,” she said. “And I have sketches I did as a toddler, so I’ve always done this (been an artist), but without purpose or direction until I started painting full time roughly 15 years ago.
“It was always there. I just didn’t cultivate it until later in life.”
Today, Lawlor’s work can be found across Canada and abroad; from office towers and hotels to private residences. Not formally trained as an artist, Lawlor instead relies upon her childhood experiences in rural Manitoba, which not only helped develop her skill, but inspired her passion as well.
“When you think about it, look at the NHL and how many stars come from humble beginnings,” she said. “Theoren Fleury is from Russell. I often wonder, are these accomplished players a result of their environment growing up? For me, I think it’s part of the lifestyle we lived. It was a very small place, but it was huge to me because I didn’t know any different. My world was very large to me as a child. You don’t have to grow up in a large city to become something.
“My childhood, I can look at that and say I grew up in a small town with five kids in my grade, and I had the biggest life. I was never bored.”
Lawlor is thrilled to be working with Ducks Unlimited again. Money raised from the auction of her work and pieces created by the other artists will go towards DU’s ongoing conservation work.
“I think it’s important for all of us to be responsible to help with something we believe in, especially in this day and age,” she said. “We live in such a disposable world and I just really believe in the work (Ducks Unlimited) is doing. And paying it forward when you can is important.”
Lawlor’s piece, entitled Klasa, as well as the other submissions, can be seen at www.ducks.ca/2019NAP. All original pieces are up for private auction, where the best bid takes home the prize.
To see more of Lawlor’s work, visit her personal website at www.shannonlawlor.com.