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Kansas City Watercolor Artist Displays ‘Intense’ Work at McPherson College

Vibrant colors, hyper-realistic subjects and complex composition are hallmarks of Sandra Schaffer’s watercolor work currently on display in Friendship Hall at McPherson College.

The Kansas City, Mo., artist is presenting “A Brush with Color: Watercolor Paintings by Sandra Schaffer” through Nov. 21. The exhibition features 35 watercolor paintings with subjects as diverse as world culture, classic cars, and still life objects. What the paintings share in common is a use of super-saturated color and style that seems to pop from the paper.

“I’m looking for a high-intensity piece of work,” Schaffer said. “High intensity in color and high intensity in depth.”

Schaffer’s work has appeared in more than 200 regional, national and international shows since 1997 and has been featured in books and other publications. Among her honors are participation in the Japan Watercolor Federation/Watercolor Honor Society Exchange in Tokyo, Japan, in 2010; winning the Golden State Award in the California Watercolor Association 2012 National Exhibition; and being a multiple recipient of the Koch Purchase Award of the Kansas Watercolor Society – among others.

Using her own photography for reference, Schaffer works to create hyper-realistic effects through the use of irregular shapes of single solid colors – blending colors together to create depth, realism and brilliant light effects. Even when she’s painting inert objects such as a basket of peppers, there’s an energy present in every work.

“You’re not seeing something that’s sitting still,” Schaffer said. “You see something that has life in it.”

In much of her work, Schaffer’s goal is to portray cultural images, as in her images of the everyday life of people in South American and Asia.  Sometimes, as with her classic car series, the reflected culture is that of the Midwest and is – literally – a reflection.  Her focus is on the images surrounding the cars, reflecting these surroundings using the zoomed-in perspective of mirrors and chrome.

Wayne Conyers, professor of art, said he has had his work alongside Schaffer’s in shows before, which he has considered an honor. He was excited that they were finally able to arrange an exhibition of her work at McPherson College.

“I consider Sandra to be a ‘big time’ artist,” Conyers said. “Art enthusiasts should come see her work.”

A reception for Schaffer is planned for 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5, and the public is invited and encouraged to attend.