Shawn Cameron would be the first to admit that she literally paints her family’s life. Her deep roots in Arizona ranching often result in art critics referring to her as “the real thing,” a description that separates her from the more romantic, uninformed Western artists.
Cameron’s paternal grandparents rode in covered wagons along the Oregon Trail in the 1800s and then south into Arizona Territory. Her father’s family erected the oldest schoolhouse in Arizona and built the largest store in the Verde Valley. Her mother’s family established trading posts and ran ranches. Eventually, it was Shawn and her husband’s turn to run the ranch and raise a family.
“I was always drawing,” Cameron recalls. “My first memories are of horses. That was the focus of our family, so I went out and drew horses. My right brain was always in gear.”
Cameron studied art in high school and college and took classes at the Scottsdale Artists’ School and the Fechin Institute in New Mexico. Two notable visitors to their ranch became important mentors in her life: renowned cowboy artists Bill Owen and the late Joe Beeler, one of the founders of Cowboy Artists of America. The two men helped her see herself as an artist, but Cameron also discovered a mentor in New Mexico artist Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt. He was the first artist she studied with when she became serious about pursuing art as a career.
“I’m from Arizona,” she says, “and ranching is all we’ve done.” That life lives on in her paintings and has resulted in many exhibits and awards since the early days of taking advice from her mentors. In 2019 she was given the “Will Rogers Award for Artist of the Year” by the Academy of Western Artists and also invited to become one of the founding artists of the “Masterworks of the West” at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Canada.
View her website at shawncameron.com