Mary Shahbazi recently was named the Sterling Heights Featured Artist for her paintings. Shahbazi said she likes to use bright colors in her paintings, and some of her artwork incorporates nature themes.

Mary Shahbazi recently was named the Sterling Heights Featured Artist for her paintings. Shahbazi said she likes to use bright colors in her paintings, and some of her artwork incorporates nature themes.

Photo provided by Mary Shahbazi


Featured artist lets the paint tell the story

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 25, 2019

Photo provided by Mary Shahbazi

Photo provided by Mary Shahbazi

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Mary Shahbazi recalls her first experiences, as a girl with a part-Cherokee background and an interest in art, drawing in the dirt with a stick when she was about 4.

“I was born and raised in Oklahoma for my first 20 years. And I was born in the country, so … paint was a bit scarce,” she said. 

“From there, one day I started going to school, and in the first grade I got a pencil … and I drew and drew.”

Shahbazi, 63, from Sterling Heights, was recently selected as the Sterling Heights Featured Artist for June and July. During that time, her work will be on display in City Hall’s lower level, as well as at the Sterling Heights Public Library.

Shahbazi said she started painting seriously in 2009. 

She originally went to college to learn computer science, but she switched and pursued nursing. Due to health issues, she chose to become an artist instead. Arthritis and other physical difficulties made it easier to create by trading her pencil for a brush, she explained. 

Shahbazi said her favorite painting medium is acrylic, followed by oils. She likes acrylic because it’s fast-drying, and she often paints between one and four works simultaneously.

Her compositions usually begin with mixing a light paint and a dark paint on a canvas until it forms cloudlike patterns. Then she looks for a subject or theme, like someone who makes stories about cloud shapes in the sky. She said the end result is something unique.

“I’m never really sure of what I will be painting,” she said. “I gather my pictures from ... a layer of paint that I see on the canvas. I’m never really sure what picture is going to come out of that.

“Sometimes I get landscapes with people in it. Sometimes I get animals. Sometimes I get mermaids or … just a lot of different things: bicycles, objects, the skies, the clouds, the rivers, the oceans.”

She said she finds art healthy and therapeutic, and she wants others to know about it too.

“It makes me happy because I love to share my art with the world, and my near surroundings locally, because each and every other painting will have a different meaning to each and every person that views the painting,” she said.

“So, hopefully, it will make them smile. I try to choose very bright colors to make people happy, for others to enjoy what they see and wonder what is there and why is it there.”

This is not the first time Shahbazi has been a featured artist. She previously was Sterling Heights’ pick in 2016.

“I think they like the diversity of my paintings,” she said. “I’m always amazed when I actually win one of these sessions. I know there’s a lot of other wonderful artists in Sterling Heights.”

The Sterling Heights Arts Commission was in charge of honoring Shahbazi. Its chair, Jeanne Schabath, said many other featured artist picks make contemporary or abstract art, but Shahbazi does something different.

“Hers is actually surrealism, and it’s real neat,” Schabath said. “And she has created her own unique process of how she comes up with her art, so I would suggest that people come out and take a look at it.” 

Learn more by searching for Mary Shahbazi on fineartamerica.com or pixels.com. Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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