Left Foot Studios isn’t a fancy artist atelier. It’s the garage of Brek Shea’s suburban home, where the FC Dallas All-Star paints in his spare time. Most of the works in the garage are half-finished or painted over—some pockmarked by darts—all scattered among piles of painting supplies. The best of the bunch make the trip across the backyard from the garage to the house.
Inside, the walls are filled with large canvasses swirling with deep, bright colors. In a place of honor—above the kitchen sink—is the first painting Shea did since he started this hobby a few years ago. On a cheap eighteen-inch square canvas, splatters of green and red paint form the stems of three flowers, and Shea used his thumb to smooth out five petals for each one. Just like that, a habit was formed.
“I'm addicted to it now,” Shea said. “Every time I have a moment I want to go do something just for fun. It gives me a chance to go relax and do whatever I want because I can't do anything wrong. Because it's whatever I want, you know?”
After Shea was drafted by FC Dallas days before his eighteenth birthday, painting both helped to fill the long hours of downtime after training and to decorate the blank walls of his new bachelor-pad apartment. Since then, he’s turned out dozens of paintings, giving them to friends and family or auctioning them off for charity.
As Shea points out some of his latest efforts on a tour of his house, it’s clear there’s not a single locked-in style to his art. It’s more abstract than realist, but he’s not afraid to switch it up. Pointing to a bold graffiti-influenced street-style portrait leaning against the wall in the den, Shea explains, “There's a guy—he's a local artist in Dallas named Jason E. I don't know anything about him, I just like the things he does. He sells his stuff in this one store that I go by. I did this one here of Wiz Khalifa, and I bought like three new paintings that he's done of Lil Wayne. And I just kinda got that idea from him. But my other stuff, I just enjoy bright colors and doing abstracts. I'm always doing new things and trying do see what I can do, like these collage ones I'm doing right now.”
Collage work, still in the assembly stages, has broken out of Left Foot Studios and made its way to the pool table inside. Stacks of photos torn from magazines fill the table, ready to be incorporated into a new piece.
It’s almost too obvious to make the connection between Shea’s art and his style of play. With his ever-changing hairstyles and growing number of tattoos, he’s a free spirit who fits the nonconformist stereotype. Still, he concedes it’s not a lazy comparison.
“In a game, I play my best when I'm not thinking. I'll do a move or score a goal and then I don't remember how I did it or what I was thinking when I did it. When I go back and watch film, I'm like, ‘Oh, I did that. That was pretty cool.’ And the same with painting. I'll paint something and I'll do it and let it dry and come back the next day and I'm like, ‘Wow. I did that.’ I don't remember doing it. When I'm not thinking is when I can do stuff like that. Because when you think, things get in your way and you second-guess. If you just clear your mind and do it, that lets you do it.”
All images from Left Foot Studio.