“Sheila Lee Elstad lived with her husband, Victor, in Breezy Point, Minnesota. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Sheila Lee was close with her Irish grandmother,”Nanny.” Nanny amused Sheila Lee for hours on end, telling stories from the old country. Nanny’s love-filled wit and the sisters at Blessed Sacrament School gave her wonderful childhood memories. It was impossible to have a conversation with Sheila without laughter. Being an Irish Catholic paired with her upbringing left her with what she deemed a “terminal sense of humor.” She had a perspective that saw the humor in practically every situation.
To the viewer of her paintings, there is no such thing as a casual glance. Each painting captivates. As Sheila Lee’s stories unfold on the canvas, you smile. It was her philosophy to depict characters enjoying a simpler time with a healthy dose of humor. Bright colors and intricate composition tell the story within the story; a landscape is no simple landscape. Buildings, people, and animals abound in that world, each making their own chapter within the theme of her painting.
Inspired by the art of Linda Nelson Stocks and Charles Wysocki, Sheila Lee had developed her own unique style and approach. She left personal trademarks in many of her paintings: a Celtic cross, a shooting star in night skies, calico prints, quilt patterns, a white puppy with black spots. Outwardly stating she was not fond of cats, Sheila Lee often depicted felines in some sort of trouble, being antagonized, or on the verge of being in peril. Children are mischievously playing pranks somewhere on the canvas.
Having won numerous awards in galleries across the country, Sheila Lee’s paintings and prints have gained significant popularity among collectors across America, Sweden, Germany, Japan and of course, Ireland.
Just before she passed in 2012, Sheila Lee was owned by two cats who she adored.