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Holding my original Sockeye Salmon painting along the Deschutes River (16 x 36", acrylic on board). This was the first fish painting I did, in an effort to support the fight against Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. Photo credit: Ryder Redfield

Saving Salmon with Art

“Every morning I wake up torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day.  But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it?  In a way, the savoring must come first.” -E.B. White 
 
I woke up last night thinking of salmon. (Yes random, but welcome to my brain.)    

While not a fisherwoman, I have developed a love and wonder for these magnificent creatures through the incredible writing of David James Duncan, sharing meals with family, and witnessing their migrations on the beautiful rivers of the Northwest. 
 
And now, as I write this, one of the world’s last wild salmon fisheries is under threat in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

I woke up last night thinking of salmon.

And. My. Heart. Breaks.  (As is does more often than I would prefer in these times.) It’s overwhelming to wake up every morning to a world where so much needs saving- where so much is under threat. 

But I resist the inclination to mindlessly browse through memes on Facebook and pick up my paintbrush instead.  And I hope that somehow, by savoring and capturing the beauty of this being, I can in some small way help save it, too. 
 
– Sheila Dunn

Coho painting in the forest along the Nahalem River. Photo credit: Brian Kelley with Wild Salmon Center.
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Holding original Coho salmon painting in the forest near the Nehalem River. Photo credit: Brian Kelley with Wild Salmon Center.
Bend Cider can featuring Sheila’s Sockeye salmon painting. The company selects animals in the PNW that are part of conservation efforts.

I hope that somehow, by savoring and capturing the beauty of this being, I can in some small way help save it, too. 

Original Winter Steelhead painting, 16 x 36 inches, acrylic on board.
My original Coho Salmon painting that I did as part of collaborative project with The Wild Salmon Center. I painted this one afternoon onsite at the Nehalem River by the coast. It’s 16 x 36 inches, acrylic on board. Photo credit: Brian Kelley with Wild Salmon Center.

Contributed By

Sheila Dunn

Born and raised in the foothills of northern Colorado, Sheila Dunn currently lives and works in the beautiful town of Bend, Oregon. In 2006, she received a BFA in painting and a minor in art history from Colorado State University. Her love for creating – and belief in its absolute cultural significance – was solidified while studying abroad in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy in 2005.

Best known for her large, vibrant figure paintings, Sheila’s work explores the fluid relationship between figure and environment: how each continuously informs and affects the other. At the heart of this exploration lies the notion that we both form – and are formed by – all we have seen and experienced.

When she is not in the painting studio, Sheila can be found teaching yoga, searching for her lost keys and exploring the wonders of the Northwest.

R.L Winston Fly Rods Catch Magazine

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