“As a kid, I opted out of playing football and other neighborhood sports to go draw pictures sitting on my bedroom floor. There was just something special about it,” says local artist Wade Zahares. “On Saturdays, I watched the 60’s cartoons. I loved the backgrounds and tried to create my version. My work today still has some of the same qualities.”
Wade Zahares is being featured in Pop-Up! at Studios on Maine Art Hill at 5 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk. His show opens June 11 and runs until June 17 through LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival.
It was high school art class where Zahares had his actual start, and he gives teacher, Jan Merrill much credit for pointing him in the right direction. After high school, he spent two years at the University of Maine at Orono, then transferred to Maryland Institute, College of Art. In 1983 he received his BFA, with gratitude filled thank you to the teacher of illustration, Susan Waters Eller.
“While in college I started using pastels, after advice from an instructor. It was a good way to start working color into my charcoal drawings,” shares Zahares. “I never worried about style as I figured it would come naturally. Luckily it did.”
Being more concerned about his subject matter, Zahares focused on light, color, and composition. His ideas stem from previous pieces, and his compositions evolve and repeat.
“I have always loved the simplicity of the medium,” says Zahares as he laughs. “Someone needs to remind me of that when I am going out to do plein air, trucking around with my easel, pastel box, board and paper, all covered in pastel.”
Zahares started plein air right out of school, and soon, people started noticing and buying. This lead to attention from Corporate Art dealers whose interest leaned toward his studio work.
“I put my plein air on the back burner, and it wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that my teaching career brought it back. It is something I will never let go again. It gives me a break from my tedious studio work,” says Zahares. “I am back painting on the streets in the local area. Being outside refreshes my memory of life’s details.”
Zahares also has eight children’s book, which he illustrated. In the ’90s, he became acquainted with Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges and her husband, the late Philemon Sturges. They both represented Children’s Book Illustrators and loved his work.
“It took several years to sign my first contract, but I have been working with Studio Goodwin Sturges ever since,” says Zahares. “My children’s books have always presented a great challenge in communicating my ideas to others, stretching my composition to the limit and back, forcing ideas, drawing challenges and learning to focus and time management.”
Zahares is crossing his fingers for a new children’s book soon, but can’t disclose information yet. It will be his ninth. He also offers school visits and lectures about his art and his books.
“Life is all about finding your passion and purpose,” says Zahares. “I was lucky and found mine early in life.”
Wade Zahares will be at Studios on Maine Art Hill as the featured artist in Pop-Up! during Launch, A Maritime Festival. While there he will have original works, prints, including the LAUNCH poster, as well as his children books. He takes over the studio at 5 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk on Tuesday, June 11. His private show runs through June 17, but his prints are always available at Fine Art Prints, also at Studios on Maine Art Hill.