Patricia Shaw: a portrait of the artist |

Patricia Shaw: a portrait of the artist

Connie Steiert

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you are still looking for the perfect gift – something that will last far longer than a box of chocolates and mean far more – consider a portrait of that special someone.A beautiful oil portrait is at once more than the gift of the moment; it quickly becomes a keepsake – something generation after generation can treasure.”It’s something you can keep forever,” says Vail portrait artist Patricia Shaw. “It does make a great present.”Pictures capture a special moment in time that you never want to forget: the birth of a child, an anniversary or the day a favorite grandfather with the twinkle in his eyes turned 65. Shaw has a genius for taking that special moment and making it magic on canvas.Take her recent picture of a bride. Already beautiful and radiant, Shaw translates the blushing bride’s glowing emotions into lustrous colors that highlight the subject’s loveliness and turn an already happy time into a fairy tale moment.Often, in life, it is the small moments that become the most precious, however: the hugs from your 8-year-old, a tender moment between a grandchild and her grandmother, or the way your cat loves that sunny spot in your alcove. Shaw thrills to capturing these fleeting, but indelible images.”A lot of people want to capture their children before they go off to college or when they are very young adults,” Shaw says. One of the most popular ages for portraiture for children is between the ages of four and seven, but women reaching the milestone of 40 or 50 also like to freeze that moment in time.Part of Shaw’s magic is in her attention to details. Shaw, a former fashion illustrator, believes in painting her subjects with a heavy dose of realism, found in the minutiae of life – the curve of each eyelash, the soft fold of a dress, the healthy shine in a lock of hair. Every pearl on the bridal gown in Shaw’s portrait glows with a brilliant luminance, every bit of lace looks like it was pixie spun.Yet, at the same time, her pictures uncover a subject’s inner beauty. In each painting she looks for the telltale spark of personality in the gleam of an eye or the twist of a smile.”When I look at someone, I want to capture their likeness, but I also want to capture their best features,” says Shaw.Shaw paints people of every age and in many settings, and also specializes in painting pets. One particularly charming picture she is currently finishing shows a child hugging her knees on a porch as she contemplates a bevy of wildflowers – a simple, yet enchanting image. In another, Shaw captures the exuberance of children playing innocently on a beach.It is that innocence and innate beauty that particularly draws Shaw to painting portraits of children.”I love to draw children,” Shaw says. But then people are Shaw’s passion. Ever since she was a child she felt compelled to draw faces, for which she had an innate knack. That knack is in her genes. Her father is a watercolorist and a yacht designer and her grandfather was an artist as well.”The creative gene was passed on to me,” says Shaw. She smiles. “As a child I remember the smell of smoke drifting up from the basement where my father had a drafting table set up.”But Shaw didn’t discover her own nascent talents until she was in eighth grade and her friend asked her if she wanted to accompany her to a painting class in a nearby gallery in Providence, Rhode Island.”The smell of resin and paint here still takes me back into that gallery,” Shaw says. “I think I’m one of the lucky ones. Most children are not encouraged to draw as kids, their parents are in another profession.”After a year in college, Shaw apprenticed with a fashion illustrator for three years, before striking out on her own. When she married and had a son, she put aside her own drawing pencils for a while and became an art director and product director. Now she is once again immersed in her own art, painting continuously and attending workshops, with renowned painters, such as portraitist Daniel Greene in New York and master artist Paul Ingbretsin’s atelier school of painting.Shaw now divides her time between her New Hampshire home and Vail. From November to April, Shaw teaches skiing full time in Vail, and then spends her “off” time teaching yoga and kick boxing in the valley. But she always finds time for painting subjects in Vail and around New England.And Shaw is more than happy to hop a plane and meet a client no matte where she is. “My profession is very portable,” she says. “I just love doing it. It’s really, really fun.” qTo contact Patricia Shaw, call (970) 476-2198; or e-mail her at: Some of Shaw’s paintings will be on display in the Yoga For Athletes studio in Crossroads in February or March.

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