The strength of the feminine: Lewiston artist paints images of women, creates mosaics

Jaymee Laws has been painting women for 20 years, not only because she says they are the perfect vehicle to convey emotion, but because of circumstances in her own life.

click to enlarge Jaymee Laws' “Amphitrite” depicts the wife of Poseidon, octopus-like, and full of strength, beauty and mystery, Laws said.
Jaymee Laws' “Amphitrite” depicts the wife of Poseidon, octopus-like, and full of strength, beauty and mystery, Laws said.

A 41-year-old mother of five, Laws has had to find creative solutions in both her art and her day-to-day tasks, being that two of her children are autistic and she works from home. Painting strong, beautiful women is her “thing.”

“And also because we live in a misogynistic culture and women are really important,” Laws said. “I was always interested in feminism and women’s history. I have four daughters, and so just women, in general, are in my life.”

Laws will show nine paintings of women, two mixed media paintings and four mosaic pieces as part of Lewiston’s Downtown Art Walk at the Blue Lantern Coffee House and Wine Bar.

“The women themselves are painted in a realistic style with surrealistic surroundings,” Laws said. “I incorporate a lot of natural elements. For instance, I do a lot with water or birds or trees, and also dream-like qualities.”

click to enlarge Jaymee Laws
Jaymee Laws

Her piece “Amphitrite” depicts the wife of Poseidon, octopus-like, and full of strength, beauty and mystery, she said.

“That used to be pretty much all I did — was paint women — and I do mosaic on the side, but now I’m trying to blend them together,” Laws said.

Laws recently has incorporated mosaic and stained glass, as well as wood pieces, into her work. Some pieces are solely mosaic.

Laws spends a chunk of her time on a 110-year-old, third-generation home where she, her children and husband reside. A stone mosaic floor in the dining room resembles a rug, while a floral mosaic covers the kitchen door.

“Little by little, I just am making the entire house into an art project,” Laws said. “I’m making something everyday. That’s a huge part of my life ... Even if I’m not painting paintings, I’m doing something artistic.”

Laws’ artwork has spilled outside the house onto the garage.

click to enlarge Jaymee Laws, a painter and mixed media artist who will be featured during Downtown Art Walk, painted this garden mural during the summer in her alleyway for people to enjoy while driving by.
Jaymee Laws, a painter and mixed media artist who will be featured during Downtown Art Walk, painted this garden mural during the summer in her alleyway for people to enjoy while driving by.

“I painted this garden mural this summer just in my alleyway for people to enjoy when they drive by,” she said.

While Laws spends a lot of time doing art near home, she does have to be realistic with how her time is spent.

“Art is something that I have to do to be whole. It’s part of my soul just to make things,” Laws said. “But it’s also had to take a backseat to mothering.”

Laws said her children are demanding, but in a good way. Luckily, Laws said, her husband Jim — a drummer in the band 7 Devils — helps her go with the flow and is there to support the family.

“I find it pretty amazing how (Laws) finds the time to still be creative and produce so much beautiful artwork,” said Blue Lantern owner Dawn Abbott, who has helped set up the exhibit.

Laws has little time to actively sell her pieces, but said the Art Walk pieces will be for sale, ranging from $75 to $500, depending on size.

“I love that we’re having an Art Walk. And I love the increase in art and interest in art that’s happening in this Valley,” Laws said. “I grew up here, and I did move away for a while, and I moved back. It’s something that I always wanted to see here. The draw of a bigger city is the cultural aspect of it and the appreciation for more enlightened interests. It’s really exciting to see that here.”

Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or ltreffry@inland360.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @LindseyTreffry.

->if you go: WHAT: Jaymee Laws’ Downtown Art Walk display WHERE: Blue Lantern Coffee House and Wine Bar, 326 Main St., Lewiston WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Friday COST: Free

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