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Nature, a source of inspiration

Shea Stanfield~ 5/5/2015

The richness she achieves comes from nature, the source of her inspiration.  Local artist Maya Henaff transports her viewers to places known and unknown with her elegantly textured and masterly rendered canvases. 

Maya began her love of art in her home country of Poland. She was fascinated by the works of Chagall and Van Gogh; she spent hours studying the unpredictable element of their design and unique use of color application to their paintings. Maya’s intrigue with unusual compositions and painting applications was supported by her keen interest in the unlimited variety of subjects in the natural world. Maya shares that she remembers taking long walks in the woods. She loved the variety of scents, the changing color of the light, the contrasting shadows, and the endless visual textures nature provided for her work through her high school and college years while studying art.

Maya left Poland over 22 years ago for New York City to re-unite with her mother and supported herself creating window displays for upscale fashion boutiques and jewelry stores. Later, she used her skilled eye for design in the fashion industry as a stylist and consultant. During this time, Maya was also studying oil painting with well-established painter and teacher Susanna Anastasia, while taking classes at the Art Student League of New York.

Ten years ago, Maya and her family moved to Arizona, where she took up painting full time. As she would describe it, the constant sunlight, beautiful colors and the fascinating array of desert landscapes provided an endless supply of ideas and subjects for her work. Maya joined Thunderbird Artists and began participating in juried shows. This provided her with the opportunity to network into a variety of Arizona art communities, and eventually she found the Sonoran Arts League and became a member.

Maya’s style is constantly being revised as she experiments with different applications, color combinations, and subjects. The last few years she has been working with a pallet knife. She loves the contrast of bold color application and fine lines “cut” into the color with the side of the knife. The scooping, scraping, smashing, and blotting produce amazing results in the textural quality in her work. She loves the freedom of “mixing” as she goes, right on the canvas, and creating realistic textures in her tree trunks, leaves, and flowering ground cover elements. Her patrons and collectors have loved the new look, coming back to purchase pieces for their homes and offices and as gifts.  Maya says, “They think of my new style of painting as modern classical impressionist.”

The Art Department Gallery in Scottsdale, The Gallery at el Pedregal in Carefree, Spur Cross Gallery in Cave Creek, and UGALLERY online, are  places you may view and purchase Maya’s work, as well as her Web site,  
Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield at