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Eleven Mile Canyon Collection

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Why I Paint Outside -

Driving down the newly opened faster toll route to the beach, I sang, sunroof open, at the top of my lungs to Los Lonely Boys Heaven and asked myself "how much farther is heaven?" With my newly purchased easel and paint bag in the back of my jeep, I didn't have a dime to my nameyet I was elated. I was escaping.  You see, we were slowly drowning in debt. The great recession was already being felt in southern California, and it was no surprise to us. I had a front row seat to the fiasco, having spent the last 8 years in the real estate industry. It all actually started to turn in 2006 in California. I had seen the writing on the wall. My career and the career of many I know would change irreparable due to the financial crisis. Yet, on this drive, I had one thing on my mind:  painting outside. Painting had always been my savoir and my refuge; for when painting outside, nothing else matters. It's just you. Not the version of you with all of the thoughts and fears, but the you that lives in the moment and as a result, every moment painting outside is pure joy. It's true, plein air painting is a challenge. It's frustrating, hot, cold, rife with bugs and exhaustionbut pure joy nonetheless.

Being an artist is the only thing I had ever wanted to be. For me, being an artist wasn't a choice, it is who I am and how I see the world. It took me far too many years to have the courage to become a professional artist. It was the great recession that gave me the push I needed. The recession eventually led our family to leave California for Tucson. A move that provided the space that I needed to believe in myself and my art. In fact, those first years in business, I sold a several hundred paintings. The recession did not seem like a blessing in disguise at the time, but in hindsight, it was one of the best times of my life. I hope that sometime in the future, we can all look back on this surreal year and eventually feel that it transformed society for the better.

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Shirley Bales, artist

Shirley Bales, is a multi-generational painter. Shirley formally studied fine art under an accomplished forensic portrait artist and other notable illustrators in the 1990's. Shirley also attended workshops by acclaimed plein air painters, and exclusively painted outside for over 15 years to develop her acute color sensibility. Shirley attributes most of her technical knowledge to the Cennini Forum, comprised of forerunners of the Classical Realism Movement. Shirley has participated in multiple group and solo shows winning multiple awards and accolades over the years. Her work resides in hundreds of private collections nationwide. Shirley, now a resident of Colorado Springs, paints Colorado and beyond.

Eleven Mile Canyon

Coming soon! A new collection of original art by Shirley Bales Fine Art

Discover the Print Collections


Colorado Prints

Archival giclee prints of original art of Colorado and Beyond by artist Shirley Bales.


Abstract Prints

High quality fine art prints of original abstract mixed media art by artist Shirley Bales.

A Few of my Favorites

by artist Shirley Bales