Look at a leaf. Tilt your head; see it from a different angle. Close your eyes halfway and look at it through your eyelashes. Watch it grow, change color, float and fade away, only to be reborn. It’s just a leaf, but don’t they sometimes look like wings or worlds or at least abstract representations of curious beauty with their curves, veins and array of colors?
Artist Sheila Evans has chosen leaves as the subject of her paintings because they are nature’s ornamentation that offer beauty, shade and calm.
“When I plan a painting I play with shapes and light and color and movement until I create a mood that I would like to experience, then I begin to paint,” she said. “The things I paint bring me most easily to the feeling I seek. They are like another medium alongside the paint and pastel,” she said.
“The more I immerse myself in the seeking of harmony and peace in my life the more aspects of my life become involved. Life imitates art and vice versa. I clear out things which feel at odds with my art and the life I want which is peaceful and nonharming.”
Leaves encompass all that is peaceful and nonharmful. Sit under a tree and hear them rustle as if they have secrets. Evans’ portrayal of leaves are open to interpretation as she somehow brings forth their secrets as a viewer initially recognizes the leaf and yet, there is a wing, a road, a landscape or simply a feeling. Is the movement contained within a breeze or a breath?
“There’s a lot of abstraction in foliage,” she said.
Evans moved to the Spokane area at age 5 from California. She graduated from University High School and received a bachelor of arts from Gonzaga University with a major in fine art. She later earned a degree in graphic design from Spokane Falls Community College and worked as a graphic designer for the next 15 years. Twelve years ago, she became a member of the Art at Work Program through the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. She is now a full-time artist, creating every day and taking her work to high-end arts and craft festivals as far away as Illinois.
Evans lives in the South Perry District but paints in a studio downtown that she has transformed into an environment of creative bliss. There is an area for pastel drawing and another for painting in oils. Half a dozen easels display her work as do the walls and.
Evans believes in surrounding oneself with beauty. “I realized at an early age that I wanted to try to limit the things in my life to those which are beautiful, artfully designed, handmade if possible. I find being surrounded by things of beauty and value to be calming and comforting.”