A Brush With Nature, Paintings by Jonathan Shaw, on View at Adkins Arboretum

A Brush With Nature, Paintings by Jonathan Shaw, on View at Adkins Arboretum


Animals take center stage in Jonathan Shaw’s paintings at Adkins Arboretum. On view in the Visitor’s Center through February 1, his meticulously detailed pictures of owls, foxes, eagles and deer are portraits of birds and animals perfectly at home amidst the native wildflowers, grasses and trees of the Eastern Shore.

Shaw is a colorful character and a consummate storyteller. He has become a familiar sight at area wildlife festivals, where he can be found with a falcon perched on one arm as he sketches the bird with his free hand. There will be an opportunity to meet him and hear the stories behind his paintings at a reception on Sat., Dec. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m.

In keeping with the holiday season, Shaw is donating 50 percent of sales to the Arboretum. As paintings are sold, new ones will be hung in their place, so it’s worth visiting the show more than once during the next two months.

One of the joys of living in our rural area is the chance of sighting wild animals, but it’s rare to see them close-up. Shaw’s paintings are a remedy. Whether painted in oils, acrylics or watercolor, his painstaking, super-accurate style reveals the sharp cunning in a fox’s eyes and the astonishing patterns and colors of a wood duck’s plumage. Yellow sunlight glints on the water as a heron stands stock-still in the marsh beneath tall loblollies in Shaw’s “Fishing the Point,” while in “River Kings,” two otters, surrounded by tiny wildflowers on a river shore, turn their piercing eyes toward the viewer.

British-born, Shaw lives with his wife, Ann Habberton, on their historic Wye Mills farm, where they keep Paso Fino horses and several birds of prey. Shaw is an avid falconer who hunts on horseback, a practice dating at least to medieval times in Europe and the Middle East. He has had a passionate love for nature since childhood, and his fascination with both animals and plants is evident throughout this show.

While the native plants in most of his paintings are part of the habitats of the birds and animals portrayed, a pair of small canvases focuses instead on a single tree. Standing alone in a sunny meadow ringed by a forest, the sprightly tree in “Late Summer Sentinel” seems to be dancing in the light. The mood is very different in “Misty Morning Sentinel,” where the same tree is silhouetted against the mist as dawn light creeps across the wildflowers scattered in the meadow. Once again, Shaw’s careful attention to details tells the story and brings the scene alive.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists, supported in part by Caroline County Council of Arts. It is on view through Feb. 1, 2013 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, it will build the W. Flaccus and Ruth B. Stifel Center at Adkins Arboretum and a “green” entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit www.adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

“The Buck Stops Here” is among the works of Jonathan Shaw on view through Feb. 1, 2013 at Adkins Arboretum, Ridgely.