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American Artist: October 2003

Identifying With The PastEarly in Dennis Sheehan’s painting career, the New Hampshire artist worked in an ultrarealistic style, painting every detail accurately because that’s the way he thought he should paint. That all changed one day when he entered a Boston bookstore and saw a poster of a landscape painting on display. Mesmerized by what he saw, Sheehan thought, That’s amazing! Who did that? The poster depicted the painting June, by the great 19th-century landscapist George Inness.

Now that Sheehan had experienced art emotionally, he embarked on a mission to learn more about Inness and other 19th-century artists. “I started spending time in museums, libraries, and bookstores, and I began collecting magazine articles and art-auction catalogs on artists such as Corot, Bruce Crane, J. Francis Murphy, Alexander Wyant, and Hugh Bolton Jones,” Sheehan reflects. In the years that followed, Sheehan’s artistic identity became clearer to him, and his style changed to a more emotional interpretation of the landscape, rather than an accurate reproduction of what he saw.

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