Arts and Entertainment

Drawing and painting with Susan Gansert Shaw

Drawing and painting with Susan Gansert Shaw


for the Sequim Gazette

The familiar feel of a pencil or paintbrush between her fingers ...

The vibrant contrast created by the first splash of ink on a bright white surface ...

The unique scent of watercolor paints ...

There's nothing Sequim artist Susan Gansert Shaw enjoys more than drawing and painting.

Except for maybe helping others translate their thoughts onto a blank canvas.

Shaw leads a "Draw and Paint" session at Sherwood Assisted Living center at

2 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month. Residents - as well as their friends, family and visitors - are welcome to join. A dozen or so guests usually participate.

Shaw arrives early with all of the necessary supplies packed neatly into a large cardboard box. Pencils, markers, paint, paint brushes, a hair dryer, paper ... she brings materials from her personal studio to share with the residents.

In the center of the activities table, Shaw places a variety of objects for people to look at and draw. Then, she flips the switch to their creativity by saying "Let's draw!"

"I don't really teach," Shaw clarified, "so much as I facilitate."

Though the class "regulars" claim they aren't "artists," Shaw begs to differ.

"The group is very talented and the work they create is special," she said, showing off a student's most recent sketch of a vase full of beautiful yellow flowers.

At the end of each session, Shaw gathers each student's most recent masterpiece to take home, mat and frame. Drawings and paintings periodically are put on display at the center for the public to enjoy. The most recent showing opened Saturday, Oct. 9, and continues through the end of the month.

To view the show, stop at the reception desk and ask for directions.

"The most fun for me is seeing the residents have fun," Shaw said about leading the class for the past two years.

"Even if art isn't their thing, it distracts them from their problems and aches and pains."

Sherwood resident David Miller attends the class almost every month. Though he considers himself an amateur photographer - and the unofficial "camera man" at the Sherwood Village - he enjoys trying his hand at drawing and painting, too.

"It tests your imagination and your artistic ability," he said while doing his best to replicate a fall pumpkin placed in front of him. "Plus, it's fun."

Leading the class also gives Shaw an opportunity to spend quality time with her mother, a 21/2-year resident at Sherwood Village.

Shaw was raised and schooled in upstate New York but has spent the majority of her life in Washington. For 30 years, she called Forks home, teaching future artists and promoting the area as a viable location for artists

to live, create and present their work. In fact, she was instrumental in founding the West Olympic Council for the Arts, an advocacy organization, and Olympic West Artreck, a self-guided tour of galleries and studios.

In 1995, Shaw was nominated for Tourism Promoter of the Year. The following year, the Rainforest Soroptimist presented her with the Women Making a Difference Award.

After dividing her time between the West End and the rest of the North Olympic Peninsula for so many years, Shaw and her husband, Mike, bought a house and barn fixer-upper on 10 acres in Sequim.

Now, Shaw concentrates solely on the fulfillment of three personal goals: peace, love and laughter. Naturally, this includes continued artistic achievement, she said with an energetic and friendly smile.

For more information about Shaw or to see examples of her work, go online to www.susan, call 681-7181 or stop by a "Draw and Paint" session.

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