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Gina Daws paints in a world of color

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"The Rambler" sold at the Big Sky Art Auction last month. PHOTO COURTESY OF GINA DAWS

Young artist experiences sudden success at the Big Sky Art Auction

By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – As a 14-year-old girl, Gina Daws experienced the sudden passing of her 18-year-old brother. After her brother’s tragic death, Gina’s mother, Jamie Stevenson, picked up a paintbrush for the first time. With her brushes, Jamie immersed herself in this newfound artistic world of healing, a transformative power that Daws embraces today in her own artistic process.

“There’s a lot of peace in it,” Daws said. “I think I’ve struggled as much as anybody else and slowing down and being present was really hopeful for me.”

She kicked things off with a bang—Daws only started painting last October and sold her piece “The Rambler,” a striking 36-inch by 36-inch portrait of a sow grizzly, at the Big Sky Art Auction last month. 

“The Rambler” is painted in Daws’ unique style, forgoing the traditional color palette and instead utilizing every color of the rainbow. She approaches her paintings without much of a plan; she begins with a black and white photo and applies color where she feels the light invites it.

“I’ve made some really poor paint color choices in my house,” Daws admits of her love for the color wheel. For her wedding, she dressed her bridesmaids in a spectrum of color and she joked on her first date with now-husband Dusty, that her favorite color was “the rainbow.”

Her quick success and love for a colorful palette matches her enthusiasm. While she’s dabbled in a variety of careers—from nursing to insurance, information technology and fitness—she never felt a calling quite like that of painting. She says with artwork, there was no question.

“I like that people aren’t making me fit a certain mold,” Daws said of being an artist. “I’m working a lot, but it doesn’t feel that way … the freedom of creating is such a really cool gift.”

Her first painting, “Highland Cow,” she posted casually on social media, unsure of where her newfound passion would take her. Among an onslaught of positive feedback, one customer immediately asked her to commission a piece That’s when everything clicked—this is what Daws wanted to do.

Taking grand leaps into something new has never been an issue in Daws’ life—she moved to Montana from her home in Olympia, Washington 12 years ago to work on a dude ranch on Flathead Lake, and fell in love with the Bozeman area while visiting a friend. After finishing college, she got a job at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and relocated for good.

Of her instant success, she says it’s unexpected, but a pleasant surprise. She credits her support system back to her mother, Jamie Stevenson, and husband. Daws is focusing her efforts on commission work at the moment, but you can see some of her original paintings on display in the Wine Gallery in Bozeman, as well as prints hanging at the Ridge Athletic Club and Urban Fitness.

Gina Daws with daughter Davey and mother, Jamie Stevenson. PHOTO COURTESY OF GINA DAWS

When she’s not in front of a canvas, Daws enjoys spending time with her family—her and Dusty have two kids, Mac, 3 and Davey, 5. They enjoy ski lessons in the winter and water time at their cabin on Canyon Ferry Lake in the summer.

While Daws knows from experience that artistic expression can act as a healing force, right now she says she doesn’t have a heavy heart and is thankful for all she has—a sentiment that shines through in her vibrant work.

“If my paintings were going to portray a meaning, it would be to not take this too seriously—let’s enjoy all of the color that God gives us,” Daws said. “Lets remember what’s good. Let’s see the beauty, see the color.”

You can see more of Daws’ work on her website ginadaws.com, where she works under the name Color of Ashes, or her Instagram, @colorofashes.

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