SOUTH PORTLAND — Maura Gaven prefers watercolors.

The 18-year-old, soon-to-be graduate of South Portland High School, who will attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall, said she has been drawing for as long as she can remember.

“Pretty much as soon as I could grasp things I would draw,” Gaven said.

She has since graduated into more complicated artistic expression, and recently discovered a love for sgraffito – the application of two, contrasting layers, where the outer layer is scratched away to reveal the layer below – in her ceramics class.

“I love it. I went off the charts with it. I really like learning new things,” Gaven said.

Still, her favorite form of expression is watercolor painting.

Gaven’s watercolors tend to be small, with finely detailed frames of leaves, flowers, or windows. Even though it sounds cliche, Gaven said, she hopes to eventually illustrate greeting cards or children’s books.

When asked what inspires her style, Gaven pointed to Monet, van Gogh, the modern-day illustrator Teagan White, and the Japanese animated film company, Studio Ghibli, which was responsible for films like “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Spirited Away.” 

In her own work, she often uses her cat, Ms. Fancy. 

“There’s something very animated about him that reminds me of story books,” Gaven said. 

Her style became what it is today after studying for a year in Australia last year. In addition to new experiences, she spent a lot of time outside and developed a preference for incorporating nature into her work. 

Since then, she has tended to use brighter colors to depict happier scenes. 

“Both my artistic style and personality changed dramatically last year,” Gaven said. Both are “calmer and happier,” she said. 

She has also recently been “fascinated” with windows. Everyone sees windows every day, “but they all look different, but no one notices them,” Gaven said. That, and they provide a natural frame for her illustrations.  

Often in these images the viewer is on the inside, looking through a square or circular from, into an outside scene, replete with leaves, trees, flowers and Ms. Fancy. 

In addition to taking art classes and sketching in her free time, Gaven has been a member of the stage crew in the last four high school musicals and is in the poetry club. 

Gaven said while she is sentimental about graduating from high school and being away from her friends, she’s more excited to move on to new things.

“I am very excited to graduate,” she said. “I’m not even a little bit sad to leave.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

Sidebar Elements

Maura Gaven, 18, with one of her watercolors depicting small plants and her cat, Ms. Fancy. Gaven, a senior at South Portland High School, has been drawing since childhood and will attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall. 

Maura Gaven’s watercolor sketches tend to be small and depict finely detailed scenes that are framed by flowers, plants or windows.

South Portland commencement

South Portland High School commencement exercises will be held for 204 graduating seniors in the Class of 2015 at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 7, at Martin Field.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will be in Beal Gymnasium.

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