The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Carolyn Henderson
The Times 

Talk About Art


September 28, 2017

Courtesy Image

"Sunflowers" by Wenaha Gallery Art Event artist Maja Shaw.

People like flowers for many reasons, but one of the more distinctive is that plants don't walk away when you're photographing them.

"I like the bold, sculptural shapes of flowers," says Maja Shaw, a Richland watercolor artist who wants viewers of her work to enjoy the beauty of color and shapes based upon the world around them. Shaw is presently showing her work in a month-long Art Event at Wenaha Gallery, with a selection of images encompassing both flowers and local landscapes.

"Flowers make good subjects because they don't move around – except in the wind – when I am taking reference photos of them. They come in all kinds of shapes and colors, and they are readily available."

Shaw, whose work is representational – capturing recognizable images without being photographic – is also impressionistic, meaning that there is a softening of edges and image through the creative use of paint and brush strokes. She defines her style as one that is concerned with shape, color and composition, and not so concerned with making a philosophical statement, or as one of her professors from university days put it, "what is the state of man in the world."

"I use watercolor a little differently from many artists, in that my paintings are not very 'watery' in feel," Shaw says. "I use intense colors and often use masking to define shapes. It takes several days to complete a work because I use a lot of washes, spray bottles, and layering to achieve the effects."

Another different technique Shaw uses on some works is cut paper collages, in which she takes her existing watercolor paintings and "repurposes" them into a new image, an inspiration she draws from 20th century artist Henri Matisse and illustrator Eric Carle. From a distance, and not a very far one, the viewer one cannot tell.

"My collages are different from most because I put them together to actually form a recognizable subject, rather than the mishmash of most collage artists," Shaw explains.

Shaw's work is showcased at the gallery through October 21, and Shaw herself will be at the gallery Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Dayton's Art Walk.


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