is to build a veterans community using art as therapy
and to foster a sense of camaraderie where all veterans can rally together
The Warrior's Canvas & Veterans Art Center™ is a 501c3 Non-Profit dedicated to providing Therapeutic Art to veterans and their families. Additionally, we exist to assist veterans with PTSD and other war related trauma by providing a dynamic healing environment centered around recovery. Finally, Our goal is to provide a sense of Camaraderie and Community through events such as The Northeast Tennessee Veterans Ruck & Roll, community projects, and life skills development groups.
David is a licensed Master Social Worker who works at the VA in Johnson City TN. He is a retired Air Force MSgt who served 22 years with two combat tours. In 2015 he received the Everyday Heroes Award of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Tennessee.Contact Me
We offer Free classes to Military Veterans and also offer paid classes to the General Public.
Scheduled classes will resume in October.
Held on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month, The Warrior's Canvas™ Women's Group is a group of women Veterans who come together to experience art as therapy in the form of projects and fun activities.
Check out our Facebook Page for details!
I am originally from Johnson City, TN but moved to Michigan during my high school years and then joined the United States Navy to see the world. I was assigned to the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk as a barber. During my time with the U.S.S. Kitty I was able to visit such exotic locales as Hawaii, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. At the end of this stint, I was offered the opportunity to stay in for an additional six months to see Australia. Seizing this opportunity, I soon found my way to the Middle East due to the 1979 hostage crisis. The U.S.S. Kitty Hawk was the first aircraft carrier underway deployed to Iran.
Once I completed my tour of duty with the Navy I returned to Tennessee and completed two years active reserves in Kingsport. I was accepted and completed cosmetology school. This allowed me to obtain my cosmetology licensee and cut hair in the state of Tennessee.
During the course of my life I have struggled with many internal demons, the worst of those being drugs and alcohol. With strict conviction and strong devotion I was finally able to excise those demons in 1990 and I am proud to say I am still winning that battle today. With my new healthy living, and new found respect for life, I became eligible and received the greatest gift of all, LIFE. I received a liver transplant in the fall of 2013. With this new lease on life I visit regularly with groups of patients awaiting transplants to help them prepare mentally and emotionally for their procedure and recovery.
Despite my many challenges, the one thing that has been a constant is my enjoyment of woodworking. It’s been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Now I am able to share these talents with the world through the Warrior’s Canvas. I became involved with the Warrior’s Canvas since the beginning. I have shared my craftsmanship and helped build the sales counter and continue to keep numerous pens, bowls, and small wooden items in the gallery.
I look forward to teaching woodworking at the Warrior’s Canvas!
I grew up in Wichita Kansas and joined the United States Air Force in 1963. After completing basic training and Air Police School at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, I was assigned to the 862d Combat Defense Squadron at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. My job was providing security on the Minute Man missile sites.
I left the Air Force in 1967 and moved to the Baltimore Maryland where I worked for an Auto Finance Company for 30 Years. I have been interested in art my whole life and majored in art at Kansas State College of Pittsburg.
I’ve studied woodcarving under several nationally known woodcarvers, and have been teaching woodcarving in the Johnson City area since 1997.
Jason Sabbides is originally from Springfield, MA. He served in the United States Army, Airborne Infantry, from 1994 to 1997. After his initial stint Jason spent two and half years in the National Guard before returning to the Army for another four years, 2000 to 2004. During his years of service Jason found his way to Fort Campbell, KY, the Korean DMZ, the Middle East, Thailand and Panama.
Art has long been an important factor in Jason’s life even though it hasn’t always been something he was able to act upon. In high school he knew he wanted to draw, but he lived in a rough neighborhood and being interested in something like art got you called names. Jason persisted, in spite of the discouragement, and after being sent to a school for troubled youth he signed up for a graphic arts class. The art instructor, a former Peace Corps worker, taught silk screen and print making and would ultimately mentor Jason through his senior year. Jason recalls that if he wasn’t in a regular class he was sent to the art instructor.
During his years of service in the Army, with little to no downtime, art stopped. Still, Jason knew he wanted to be artist. After the Army he worked as an electrician for three years, but it wasn’t for him. He moved to Tennessee to be near his mom and was working toward a degree in English, but he was struggling with past experiences in the military. Jason was on a downward spiral when he enrolled in an art class. “Art literally saved my life. I was at the breaking point and felt like I had no place to go.” With art he found that he finally had a place for all the things in his head.
Jason spent a year in Asheville, NC, “living the artist life” after completing his Bachelor’s Degree and before going on to pursue a Master’s in Fine Art from East Tennessee State University. He has since held positions as Professor on Record at East Tennessee State University for 2-D Design and Adjunct Professor of Art at Virginia Highlands Community College for Art History, Drawing and Sculpture. Jason is the co-founder of the Warrior’s Canvas Veteran’s Art Center and is currently the Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. He dabbles in all things art related and has dedicated his life to art and teaching.
David Shields was born in Florida, but grew up in California. He served in the United States Air Force for twenty-two years before retiring in 2006.
Shields has been a doodler since the eighth grade, but when a teacher told him he had a good eye, that was all the motivation he needed. He began taking art classes in junior high. During his freshman year of high school he took a graphics arts class of which photography was an integral part and photography quickly became his passion. Shields says that while his peers were saving for cars, he was saving for a view camera system. He spent $1,000 on his first view camera system, a system he still owns. By his senior year Shields says, “It was all about art. I was even the art teacher’s assistant!”
In 1990 Shields, a medical technician, was deployed to Saudi Arabia. He started drawing while in country. Therapy for him began there. “People would send over books and magazines and I would draw from them,” he says. “When the war started I found relaxation in art.” Shields was stationed in Germany after Saudi Arabia and it was while he was there that he had a dream of a finished painting. He awoke determined to make that happen.
In 2007 Shields, who already had a B.S. with an Art minor, returned to school to become a social worker. He moved to Johnson City to finish his Master’s Degree at East Tennessee State University. In August 2013 he met Jason Sabbides at a Veteran’s Center Art Show in downtown Johnson City; Jason was a juror and David was a participant. This chance meeting would lead to their collaboration and by December of that year, on a First Friday, the Warrior’s Canvas was ready for their inaugural art show. In the summer of 2014 the gallery was opened with the idea to one day expand and offer art classes for veterans and their families. This too has come to fruition in the form of a variety of workshops offered on Saturdays by talented and eager volunteers.
When speaking of the Warrior’s Canvas and the apprehension that often comes with first steps in art, Shields says, “It doesn’t matter if you can draw a straight line or really don’t ever pursue anything with art, it’s about the process. Just come in and activate the other side of your brain and let the weary side rest. Let the worries and troubles go away for a bit. This is a chance to relax and solve some problems by seeing a different perspective. So, no matter your skill level, just come out and give it a try.”