June 29, 2008 — By day, St. John resident Kristen Maize coordinates programs for the Friends of V.I. National Park, but when she's done at her desk, she heads over to her small studio at Mongoose Junction, picks up her paint brush and gets to work on her brightly colored oil paintings.
"Lately my inspiration is color and scenes from the sea," Maize said.
Indeed, her recent works depict boats in the blue sea, silver fish in a blue bowl and a blonde sprite on the bow of a boat.
But before the sea scenes, she was inspired by old St. John photographs. This resulted in a collection of sepia-toned oils and a May 2007 show at Banzhaf Gallery on St. John.
"After the sepia, all I wanted to do is paint in vibrant colors," she said.
Maize, 25, was born at what was then called St. Thomas Hospital, now Roy L. Schneider Hospital, to St. John-based parents, Trish Capuano and John Maize.
She attended Pine Peace School, now called Gifft Hill School, and then took the ferry to St. Thomas to study at Antilles School.
From there, she was off to the University of San Diego, where she received a bachelor's degree in environmental studies. She started working for Friends of the Park in 2005.
While Maize said that she always had an interest in art, she never had any formal lessons until she got to college.
"That class got me excited about painting," she said.
She started selling her works in 2004 and has exhibited at galleries on both St. John and St. Thomas.
And she took a class from Mercedes Batz, a California artist who exhibits along with Maize at Mango Tango Beachside Gallery at Yacht Haven Grande shopping center on St. Thomas.
"I learned totally different ways of approaching painting and ways to look at color," she said.
Maize would like to study art abroad at some point to learn different mediums, but at least at this point in her life, has no plans to make art a full-time career. Instead, she'd like to return to school for an advanced degree in either scientific conservation or research.
She likes the balance that working for the Friends and painting brings to her life.
"It's a good outlet for me," she said. And since she likes painting so much, she's happy to spend weekends and nights in her studio.
When she's not at the Friends office or in her studio, she surfs and works on a Nassau grouper project for the University of the Virgin Islands.
"And I spend time with my boyfriend and my friends," she said.
To see Maize's work, visit her website.