A sparrow's journey through this crazy, beautiful life...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Soul Food Meet and Greet: Mary Beth Shaw

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Watch a fun little promo video for SOUL FOOD HERE.


Today we are welcoming Mary Beth Shaw! After you read her interview, be sure and stop by her website!!!

Tell us about you and your art journey.
My art journey started the same as most people, as a young child. Sadly, I lost my way sometime around the 8th grade when I had that classic 'bad teacher' experience and my confidence plummeted. At that point, I turned to music and writing for creative expression. When I was in my mid 30's I found rubber stamps which opened me up to visual arts again. At age 40 I started to pursue visual art full time by seeking additional education to help me re-learn some things I had lost - such as drawing! I also found Collage and Mixed Media and that is when my world exploded (in a very good way).

What are some of the things that nourish your soul?
How do you decide what to create - where do your ideas come from? Nature nourishes my soul and inspires the vast majority of my work although it may not appear that way since I am an abstract painter. I love to walk in the woods or meditate in the sun. Landscapes, sunsets, waves, patterns in the sand, wet rocks, tree bark, moss, grasses, leaves, veins in leaves, patterns in clouds......well, I think you get the idea.....

What is one piece of advice that you’d like to share with other artists?
Just do it. Seriously, Nike had that right. It is often hard and we have a variety of mental and physical conflicts, but (as artists) we must show up and just do it. Do the work.
How do you re-energise yourself or your muse if you have a creative “dry spell”? Cleaning my studio invariably tends to re-stimulate me. Or Meditation, music, dance, a walk out of doors.

How have the “rough spots” in life affected your art?
Art is always there for me. It has most definitely healed me and allowed me to express my most raw of feelings. Being able to work around such feelings (be it grief, fear, anxiety) is one of art's many gifts.

Tell us about the first piece you created that you felt really proud of.
It is hard to recall a specific piece, yet easy for me to recall the feeling that makes me proud. And that is when I go into the zone - that zone where I lose track of time and everything around me - and come out on the other side having created a piece of art. Typically, when that occurs, I often don't even know how the piece evolved and it feels a little bit like an out of body situation, I know that sounds weird. But I love that feeling and always feel so grateful when I move to that place with my art. That is what makes me proud.

When you’re creating something, how do you decide when it’s finished?
The pieces manage to tell me. Again, it sounds kind of freaky, but it is more of a feeling than anything else. Hard to describe, I just know when it happens.

What was the nicest compliment you’ve ever received about your work?
The most lovely compliment is when someone is moved emotionally by my art.

What drives your sense of validation or legitimacy as an artist?  
Although earning a living is obviously something I count on (with my art) I find that true validation tends to happen in different ways in the various parts of my business. For instance, in teaching, I am validated when I help a student to find their own voice or when I can help them move to the next level as an artist. That fulfills me as a teacher.

What are some recurring themes/subjects in your work?
I am continually challenged to express myself abstractly. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and I like that.

Do you have a signature set of colors? Show us some examples in your work, pretty please!
Earthy colors. I like to build my own colors with a limited palette. I have attached a few samples from several different series.

What are some elements that make your work “yours”?
The Layers and hidden elements, things that people don't notice at first.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I have mark making rituals that I do on nearly every painting, sort of calligraphic gestures. They feel symbolic.

What hangs on your walls? Do you collect work by other artists?
I love to collect original art and our walls are covered with it. I have a very special collection in my office of small pieces created by people I know.

Check out our new class coming December 30, 2013! Join 39 artists over 6 months for a mix of art and craft projects as diverse as the different personal styles of our instructors: cool mixed media techniques, art dolls and other sewing projects, jewelry making, handmade journals, abstract art, portraits, sculpting, works on canvas and in journals. Find out more!


  1. I love Mary Beth's artwork and teaching style!
    She is fabulous!!


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