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    Photos by Jessica Ebelhar

    Even on a cloudy day, Shawn Marshall’s downtown Louisville studio is filled with light, with three tall windows looking out over the Ohio River. A colorful array of her paintings hangs on the walls, and the tables are scattered with tubes of oil paint. At her easel, Marshall uses a palette knife to apply thick layers of paint to the canvas, creating an abstract, textured landscape of blue sky, wetlands and grassy scenery. She calls the painting Marshland. “It’s a more three-dimensional way of painting,” says Marshall, whose interest in landscapes stems from a childhood living and traveling overseas in countries like Cyprus, Lebanon and Germany.

    The 49-year-old didn’t start out as a painter. For 20 years she studied and worked as an architect. But she’d minored in fine arts while in graduate school for architecture at Cornell University. She knew she wanted to be an artist but didn’t pursue it until about eight years ago, when she left architecture to study teaching at Bellarmine University. “Architecture was a great education, but it was never my passion,” Marshall says. “It was much too constrictive for me.” She’s now a visual-arts teacher at North Oldham High School and an assistant director of PYRO Gallery on East Market Street. This summer, she moved her main workspace from the basement of her East End home to a studio on West Main Street.

    Painting is like meditation or yoga for Marshall — it doesn’t require the precision of architecture. She’ll start with a horizon, colors and an idea, and she’ll just let the painting happen. If she makes a mistake, she has learned to just keep going. “I see it as a practice in being in the moment,” she says. 

    This originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here. To find your very own copy of Louisville Magazine, click here. 

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