"Awash In Color", is the way Shah Hadjebi describes his watercolor paintings...
Imagine you are watching a master at work: a paint brush poised and loaded with color washes in a controlled flood over thick Arches paper. The bright blobs of liquid sumptuous color shine and shimmer before drying. More blobs of paint are applied, color over color, layer by layer in a transparent glaze that creates a magical glow from within. The artist's hand continues applying the bits and blobs of luscious color and slowly step by methodical step the image begins to come together. Shah's superlative color painting technique along with the crisp perfection of line, the impeccable perspective and the eye catching subject matter creates beautiful and memorable images of island life.
Shah describes his painting style as "stylized realism". He guides the viewers eyes to the foreground of the painting with a crystal clear focus, elegant details and the brilliant color of the painting's subject. Then he paints more loosely with a slightly blurred wet on wet technique for the background of the central image.
The memorable paintings he creates are responses to the beauty he finds in his surroundings. The island wildlife, the stillness and majesty of wetland birds stalking their prey and a colorful but slightly menacing iguana are just a few of his inspirations for his unique art. Influenced by the sweet island life Shah also finds he paints the architecture, the quaint shops, dwellings and the islands' landmarks. The colorful, quaint buildings are ideal subjects that evoke for art lovers a happy memory, a point in time to remember an idyll on the islands.
A hand painted stamp created by Shah to resemble a post office time stamp and with wording in calligraphy are sometimes added to a painting.
The stamp is a clever device, painted on the surface of the image to forever claim that unique and beautiful moment in time. For many art lovers a visit to the Tower Gallery during a stay on the island along with the sun, the sea, the wild life and the "time stamp" makes that piece of art one with their own memories of happy times.
Occasionally, Shah will paint portraits. He doesn't care to do portrait commissions, he prefers instead to be inspired to paint and capture the essence of the person as the image snares his imagination. To see the collection of Shah's portraits, mark your calendars for March of 2022, when his portrait paintings will be on display at Sanibel's Big Arts.
Shah also enjoys painting automobiles, old or modern, but all rendered with precision details, shine, reflections, and glowing color and set in lush tropical island backdrops. The nostalgia of "The Bailey's Truck, IV" evokes Sanibel Island's unique past and the romance of by-gone days.
Although his art is self taught, Shah devoted hours to the study of the arts, learning drawing and perfecting his technique. The science of perspective he learned from his architect father, and from his mother who painted on glass, he found his love of transparent color and the basics of painting. Along the way he found art mentors to encourage him and give him valuable critiques and painting tips.
The style of "realism" has always been Shah's inspiration and he found much to admire in the spectacular works of "Birds of America" by John James Audubon. He was also influenced by the architectural paintings of the city of Paris by artist Thierry Duval and the watercolor paintings of American artist Steven Kaozar.
The process of watercolor painting by Shah Hadjebi
As a child of eleven in the 1970's, Shah and his family fled the oppressive political regime of Iran to emigrate to the UK and then to the United States. In Iran the Hadjebi family was well known, respected and with generations of tradition in the arts. His family were artists, architects, designers, musicians and poets. His grandfather wrote Persian poetry and painted intricate, stylized Persian miniatures.
Adjusting to a new country and the culture was difficult for young Shah. Everything in the US seemed so large, the supermarkets, etc...everything was just so big. While adjusting to his new life he was fortunate to find a friend, a fellow student from Lebanon who was also new to the US. His new best friend helped Shah by "taking him under his wing" and ameliorating the strangeness of being a stranger in a strange land. As a young man, his love music took precedence over the visual arts. He played in a band through college and beyond, but found himself drawing and painting and searching for his inspiration in the visual arts.
In 2018 Shah made the happy move from Boston, MA to Sanibel. He and his wife had vacationed on the island often and the one visit during his vacation time on Sanibel that he could not miss was a stroll through the art of the Tower Gallery. First thing after moving to the island his goal was to apply to be juried as a potential artist at the Tower Gallery. Fortunately for Shah at that time there was a vacancy at the gallery and after being accepted into the Tower community of artists he began his efforts as a full time artist in Florida.
"I frequently ride my bicycle around the island, a camera in my basket and stop and capture the things that catch my eye and inspire me. Later in my studio, I sift through the photographs and pick the ones that I want to paint. Sometimes the backgrounds of my subjects are the actual surroundings but most often the backgrounds are loose and relatively abstract."
"My hope is that my paintings reflect a good alignment of my inner and outer purpose." SHAH
If a gallery visitor is lucky they might find the artist hard at work painting a stunning new image while he is on gallery duty. Be aware his paintings and prints are very hard to resist as demonstrated by Shah's many paintings that find themselves hanging on the walls of visitors and residents homes.