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Art Saves, Over & Over • by Mary Beth Shaw

Mary Beth ShawThe last time I was here I recounted how art saved me on my journey from the insurance industry to a career as a full-time artist. Gosh, it seems like I wrote that piece a long time ago, although it was really just last year. Sometimes I think life in the 21st century has placed all of us in a time warp. I realize this makes me sound like an old fart, but we move at such astonishing speeds these days, maintaining a pace that surely cannot be maintained over the long term.

Not to mention all the bells and whistles that surround (and, ahem, distract) us — excuse me because my phone just beeped. It has been my observation that many artists are “early adopters” of new technology; we are adventurers and explorers, we want to be “in the know.” Those of us who blog, tweet, and Facebook as part of our regular day are part of this new network.

Changes in Technology
And you know what? Sometimes I think it is just darn weird, life today. Ok, I guess I really am an old fart, but consider the following:

  • As a passenger in a car (riding with friends), talk turned to an interesting book that I felt sure I would want to own. I popped open the Amazon App on my phone, ordered the book, and paid with one click, confident it would arrive on my porch in two days.
  • Google is a verb
  • My family can watch instant movies including my own YouTube videos on our big screen television. Not that I never needed to see myself that large (in HD no less), but just saying.
  • Grocery shopping is nearly always a “self-check” affair with one machine that knows whether you put an object in the bag (or not) and another that dispenses change.
  • And I could go on and on about apps on phones and pads, Kindles, Nooks, or other electronic devices.
A Love/Hate Relationship
I don't own “all the stuff” mind you, but the ones I do own save me time and help me manage my personal and business life in a more efficient manner, thus allowing me to jam extra tasks into my already crowded days. Some stuff is simply cool; I text my husband to grab silk while he is at the store; I play word games with distant friends; I use my phone to do a blog post; I send a pic of a clothing item to get a friend's quick opinion.

I have a Love/Hate relationship with it all. And there are days when I really wonder about the merits of all this magic and question whether perhaps it is really just sorcery. I dream about a life where I could somehow leave it all behind and go back to a more simplistic tech-free existence. But I know that won't happen, at least for me.

Counting on Art
This is when I remind myself of the one thing I've always known for sure — that Art saves. Over and over. Because, no matter what, I can count on my art to transport me to another place and time. My art will never malfunction, freeze up, or give me a blue screen of death. I trust it will always allow me to escape life's hubbub and access the nether regions of my being. It has the ability to soothe and invigorate me simultaneously — all while making an object of beauty. Now that really is magic.

Mary Beth Shaw worked in the insurance industry for 18 years before she went crazy and quit her job. While exploring her creativity, she re-ignited a childhood love of art. She is now ecstatic to support herself as a full-time painter and workshop teacher. She works in series and has several bodies of work, which employ her own symbolism of embedded meaning. Her book, Flavor for Mixed Media, published by North Light, was released in February 2011. Living in St. Louis with her husband and two cats, Mary Beth is passionate about every moment of life. To learn more about Mary Beth, visit,, and

Mary Beth Shaw

Mary Beth Shaw

Mary Beth Shaw


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