By Joe Pike

Fruit Cove resident Marie Shell is an internationally recognized artist who specializes in abstract and nature-driven watercolor paintings. After nine decades of experimentation, over 2,200 pieces, 50 awards in juried competitions and seven memberships to exclusive watercolor Societies, most notably the National Watercolor Society, she isn’t done yet.

Shell continues her goal to be a respected artist and play with the imperfections that, she claims, make her art worth appreciating.

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Q: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

A: I was born with a Crayola in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. My parents noticed my passion early on, so I spent the first 20 or so years of my life taking classes and participating in workshops. At one point during one of my classes, I had several students come up to me wanting to know how I was doing what I was doing. That’s when I realized that I was actually better than the teacher. I was just born with the desire to paint. My sisters used to tell me that while they were out playing I would be inside coloring. I was always experimental, still am.

Q: What do suppose people get out of your art?

A: I want people to see the wonder, the mystery, in every piece. That’s why I like to experiment. Sometimes something appears and I never meant to put it there. I want people to see what they see, but ultimately to experience the wonder of nature.

Q: Do you have any favorite pieces? Any that aren’t for sale?

A: Oh yes, but I could never explain why. You have to see them for yourself to understand. There is something that is charmingly imperfect about them. I try to work imperfections in as much as I can. Everyone sees something different in these few paintings; that’s why I keep them to myself. It’s fascinating. They’ll never be for sale.

Q: Do you have any advice for young artists?

A: Just go for it. Take some classes, make sure you learn from lots of different teachers. I’ve had over 20 different teachers. In the end it’s just like any other passion—if you love it,  you’ll pursue it. Try it all. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Those imperfections may turn out to be something good for you.

Q: Do you have any future plans for your art? Any projects?

A: Well, I was looking around the other day and found a piece that I started working on years ago and forgot about. I’m going to try and finish it. I’m not done yet; I’ve already done six new paintings this year. I’ve got an exhibit coming up in a few weeks, so I am looking forward to that. They are going to feature 20 of my latest paintings there. I hope I can still be painting for many more years.

To learn more about Marie Shell, visit or see some of her works at Complete Choice Framing, 11112-27 San Jose Blvd.

Photo courtesy Joe Pike

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