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Why I like to paint

With Maggie Shaw
When Maggie Shaw turned 50 she pledged to herself that she would begin living life out of her regular comfort zone. To that end, she took up painting and now spends time each day working on one art project or another. 

            “It makes me feel like I’m a kid again,” Maggie said. “If you remember being a 5-year-old and having the oversized shirt on turned backwards and the smell of the tempera paint and the newsprint in front of you and you were going to create a masterpiece? It gives me that feeling. It gives me that freedom of play and getting my inner thoughts out on paper or Amazon boxes or whatever the case may be, and a huge sense of relaxation and peace.” 

            Maggie, a mother of five, new grandmother, wife, and former special education teacher, took up art as a way to relax. She began her artistic journey in 2019, dabbling in watercolor projects. “But I still had two teenage boys at home at the time so I really got started in 2020 with the pandemic. I ordered a subscription art box and it had four watercolor projects a month and I really loved that.”

            That first subscription box was the spark that inspired her to join a Facebook group called “Share Art from the Heart” where members send their own art in the form of postcards to people in hospitals, nursing homes, or the recently bereaved. “It was just a nice way to sit down every night and practice my art and do one little postcard,” she said.  

            The next April, Maggie joined “Acrylic April,” an online challenge where participants commit to one small 8X8 painting a day for the entire month.

            Her favorite form of painting is mixed media, which can incorporate anything from watercolor and acrylics to collage or other elements such as markers or pencils. “Anything goes in mixed media.” Some of her pieces may have a cheese cloth painted into it, or a tissue or even a page from a favorite book.

            “I paint everyday, usually in overalls because I’m messy,” she quipped.

            For those wanting to jump into painting or any form of artistic expression, Maggie said “don’t be afraid.” 

            “I was really afraid when I started and I thought things like, ‘Am I going to get laughed at?’ ‘Does this look like a kindergartener made it?’ But painting brings me so much joy and I’ve been laughed at before (and survived). What I found I think is people believe it’s cool that I’m doing it and I’m not criticized.”

            And painting, she said, does not have to be an expensive hobby. 

            “I would suggest to everyone to not be afraid and to also use anything you have around the house. I often paint on Amazon boxes or cereal boxes because that’s not expensive and those boxes were in the recycling bin anyway so if it turns out to be junk, it’s no big deal. It’s not precious.”

            Maggie, who follows numerous artists on social media said there was one artist “producing this amazing art and she turned it around and it was a Frosted Flakes box.”

            To get started in art, Maggie recommends that folks “start doodling. Just try it. Look at YouTube videos. Find some art or artist that you like and check out their YouTube or an instructional video,” she said. 

            “Some mediums are real forgiving,” she said. “I paint or draw in my sketchbook everyday.”

            Her current favorite genres are Cubism, Pablo Picasso specifically, and street art. “I love Banksy. I really love street art because that’s just mind-blowing to me that you can create these amazing images using a spray can,” she said.  “I grew up going to the Art Institute of Chicago. We went there all the time. I look at art online now a lot. I really like Pamela Vosseler’s art and Alex Garant – I’m obsessed with both of them.”

            Maggie is married to Tom Shaw. They have five children: Jake, Mollie, Riley, Carson and Oliver.

Good Vibes – Why we like to… 
(This summer the Progress is doing a series we’re calling Good Vibes. Our reporters are seeking out people with interesting hobbies and finding out why they love participating. From golfing and painting to thrift store junkies to homebrewers, BBQers and readers, if you have a hobby you love, let us know about it. We would love to interview you. Email us at 

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