Born in 1978, Shaun Downey spent his childhood in Oshawa, Ontario. His father worked at the local General Motors plant, as do many of the residents of the small but mighty city. As the end of high school drew near, Shaun decided to stick with his gut and pursue a career as an artist.
After getting rejected for entry to the animation program at Sheridan College, he found a small animation school opening up in Toronto where a few fellow art students from his high school were working. When he arrived at the school, he was amazed to see rows of charcoal cast drawings, highly rendered figure drawings and classically inspired paintings. The animation classes were a new addition to the already thriving classical drawing and painting school called "Angel Studios," which was headed by painter Michael John Angel.
A student of the great Italian painter Pietro Annigoni, Michael John Angel was running two schools at the time, one in Toronto and one in Florence Italy which he still heads today. Once Shaun saw the level of quality in the student's work, he immediately switched his focus from animation to figurative drawing and painting and began classes the next week.
After a year of study at Angel Studios, he decided to pursue an illustration career and enrolled in Sheridan College's three-year illustration program. At Sheridan, Shaun built his sensibilities and tastes regarding what he wanted to express in his work, and at the end of the three years, he decided that being an illustrator was not for him. He wanted to spend more time on his work than the profession usually allows, so he decided to start exhibiting his paintings.
Shaun's first show at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in 2003 was a great success, and he soon moved to Toronto's west end. After showing at several group exhibitions around Toronto, Shaun became represented by Ingram Gallery in 2005, having two solo exhibitions and showing at four Toronto International Art Fairs with them. In 2010, Shaun joined the roster of Engine Gallery in Toronto's historic Distillery District and had his first solo exhibition in October 2011.
Most recently, Shaun's painting "Blue Coco" has been selected for exhibition in the BP Portrait Award 2010, that is exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London England in June. The most prestigious exhibition of its kind, Shaun's work was one of about 50 paintings selected from over two thousand entries. "It is a great honor to be a part of such an important exhibition, essential both for myself and for the increased appreciation of figurative painting in general."