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All About Shawn

Shawn Belanger is a visual artist from Calgary who specializes in artist inks. Shawn lives with autism and is a self-taught artist with no formal training. Though he has very limited speech, his art speaks volumes about the way in which he sees the world. His use of organic, free-flowing lines show a strong connection to the natural world, his energetic and vivacious choice of color brings his work to life and reflects all of the detail and beauty Shawn perceives in the world around him.

Overcoming Challenges

Therapist reports from elementary school stated, "Shawn will never have functional use of a pencil."


When Shawn entered junior high, his mother started to notice that his drawings were becoming increasingly complex and detailed. Shawn took greater solace in his drawing, spending hours each day at his desk. Shawn's parents advocated that Shawn be integrated into art classes in junior high but the teacher refused to allow it, stating she felt Shawn couldn't follow the curriculum. Shawn's family then asked that she just allow Shawn to sit in on the class and see what he could do but the school was unable to come to a compromise. 


It wasn't until senior high that Shawn first attended an art class. His art teacher showed him books of famous artists, and Shawn began to draw with pencil and color with pencil crayons. He did the Mona Lisa, the Pieta, a nude, Van Gogh's The Bedroom, and several other pictures -- they were amazing. For the first time, Shawn became willing to share his artwork with others and accept the praise that was directed his way.

Early Years

Nancy Belanger had no idea her son Shawn, diagnosed with autism at age 5, had a talent for art when he first began to draw. Still, Nancy knew how much he loved to draw, and she was committed to encouraging him in every possible way. By the time he was 7 or 8, Shawn would find a picture book and put it beside him on the table to look at as he drew. At first he did not like the images he created; he was having trouble holding the pencil and decided he and his mother should draw hand-over-hand, with her holding the pencil, and he controlling the actions. Eventually he began to draw on his own.

Looking To The Future

After high school, Shawn began attending an adult day program for people with disabilities. His mentor artist introduced him to the sharpie pen and artist inks, and Shawn's art really started to come alive. A year after beginning his adult day program, Shawn was asked to display his art in a local art show. His parents were not too sure how Shawn would handle it but he surprised everyone. Shawn has very little speech and usually does not like to draw attention to himself. At the show, it was very obvious that Shawn was listening to people's comments about his work, and he was clearly proud.


Since that time Shawn's art has been displayed in art shows all over the world. He has been the feature artist in two books, "Drawing Autism" by Jill Mullin, and "Artism - The Art of Autism" by Debbie Hosseini. Shawn's art is sought by collectors far and wide, and he now produces commissioned works of art full-time.

Not bad for someone who was deemed "incapable of handling the tools of an art student".


Spark! Solo Artist Series

Arts Commons Window Galleries, Calgary, AB, Canada


Unspoken Words
42 Maple Contemporary Art Center, New Hampshire, USA. 

APRIL 1 - MAY 2 - 2016

International Fine Art Cannes Biennale                       
Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France. 

MAY 18 - MAY 20 - 2016

International Modern Artists Today    
PAKS Gallery, Mauerkirchen, Austria.  

MARCH 27 - APRIL 17 - 2015

Contemporary Art Fair                       
Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, France.


JUNE 13 - JUNE 14- 2015

Modern Art Masters- Art Visions of the 21st Century
Montreux, Switzerland.  


SPARK! Disability Arts Festival                       
Calgary, Canada. 


Gallery Representation                       
Agora Contemporary Art Gallery, New York, USA. 


Figurative Realms Exhibit                       
Agora Contemporary Art Gallery, New York, USA. 


City-Wide Celebration of the Arts, Airdrie, Canada


Artist on Display                   
Airdrie City Hall, Airdrie, Canada. 


Autism Awareness Exhibit                       
C-NA Gallery, Beijing, China.

APRIL 2 - MAY 2 - 2012


Balancing Acts                    
Calgary's Annual Disability Arts Festival, Canada..


The Awe in Autism- A Spectrum of Creativity                       
The Great Neck Arts Centre, New York, USA. .

APRIL 2 - APRIL 11 - 2011

CORE 7 Defining Ourselves                       
Santa Monica Art Studios, California, USA.


Emerging Artism VI                      
The Plaza Theatre, Calgary, Canada.


At First Glance                      
Southwest Communities Resource Centre, Calgary, Canada.













Calgary Autism Community Award, Outstanding Achievement in the Arts 

Calgary - 2011

Best of Show Award

Traditional Art Category

Balancing Acts 9 Disability Arts Festival 


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