Willow Shire

Willow Shire

Willow is a New Englander from birth, and Cape Cod has always been an important part of her life. She has a 1952 photo of herself sitting with her mom on First Encounter Beach, just steps from where she ultimately built a home in 1993.

She comes from an artistic family, although she chose a business career that sent her traveling around the world with a computer company. But when her daughter left for college, Willow moved to Eastham to begin a new phase of her life that would include art.

A growing realization that our time in this world is finite led Willow to search for ways to slow time and experience the current moment more deeply. Learning to paint and capture a fleeting instant on a canvas has done that for her.

By Googling “art classes” and “Cape Cod”, she was led to the Cape Cod Art Association, where Zoe Albino taught her which end of a brush to use and to not be afraid of making mistakes. “It’s only paint!” Zoe would say. And by painting on birch panels, it was easy to use an orbital sander on early works to “erase” the painting and begin again.

She also admired Arnold Desmarais and expressed a desire to paint as well as him, to which he responded, “It’s easy. Just paint 1,000 paintings!” That is when Willow began to number her paintings. And it was Mary Moquin who challenged her to use different techniques, which led to the creation of “Fun with a Palette Knife”, which won the Cape Cod Art Association’s People’s Choice Award in May.

When she is not in class, Willow finds plein air painting most inspiring and, by being outdoors, she is better able to capture the “feel” of the day and sense of place. The composition, colors, edges, and atmosphere all seem to come together better for her when she is standing in a field, on the dunes, or looking out at the ocean.

During good weather, Willow can be found in remote places within the National Seashore or the Wellfleet Audubon Sanctuary. She also expresses her artistic nature in the landscaping around her home, where you will find numerous sculptures, a fish pond, many small pocket patios and gardens, as well as a treehouse high in the pines.

Willow continues to work for the TJX Companies and is also an active volunteer with UNICEF, traveling to Madagascar and Bolivia with UNICEF staff. This active life makes her time painting the sea all the more precious. She hopes that other people enjoy her pieces, and that these paintings can be as much of a respite for viewers as creating them is to her.

Willow’s portfolio

(Click on images to view larger.)

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