Welcome to the holiday season of small to no gatherings and virtual hugs. I’ve taken the day off to work in my home. It is a gift for me. I took time today to clean and cook for the few people that will come tomorrow and reached out to family and friends in gratitude for them. I thought a lot today about the reason why I’m an artist and how I’ve kept with it even during the past few years when I was a 24-7 caregiver. There are two people that gave me precious time, love and energy that guided me to where I am now. Anton Weiss my partner for 23 years and my mother Winifred Marion Strait – Jennings, what an elegant New England name. My mother and Anton died a year and 4 days apart. Anton in 2019 and Mom in 2018.
My mother was a natural born artist and dreamer like myself. Her natural way of being curious about art, nature and different mediums opened that same door in me by her example. My mom was a gifted teacher too with an open heart, she loved to hunt rocks and taught us plenty of crafts using natural found objects growing up. My mother went to college to become a textile and ceramic artist. I would sit quietly by mom’s side watching her paint in watercolor and oil. In later years she and I would watercolor on the Gulf near where she lived. That’s the seed that was planted in me from early on that I am an artist. I knew nothing else and never deviated from that since I can remember. The foundation was there from my childhood years of growing up with a mother who was an artist and my father who was a musician and singer. There was plenty of influence from both my parents, along with 4 brothers and no sisters. I was a tomboy in order to fit in and to keep up with the four boys. So it’s not surprising to me that I work with chainsaws and side grinders plus make beautiful art.
My dear beloved Anton must of seen something in me that others passed over because he was a huge surprise to me when I met him. I didn’t know who he was or the caliber of artist. I had worked nights for years and wasn’t on the art scene even though I lived in Nashville area for since I was fifteen. All I can say is that the hand of the divine was on our meeting. I had just quit a career in the printing industry and met Anton by accident 6 months later while working part time at a gallery. He came in one afternoon, we talked and it was as if we had been friends for a long time. When I met Anton he loved being out in nature too so many of our first dates were fishing and hunting for rocks. He hunted for rocks for other reasons, ideas for sculpture which he instilled in me right from the start as a way to see! How to see planes, balance, color and form, etc. We were partners in life, love and art. We loved one another as dear friends, husband and wife plus worked side by side. He gave me what I consider a masters degree on how to work in most any medium. His outlook on what a true artist is, is to take any medium, understand it and create with it. He did this in wood, stone, metal, oil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic, graphite there wasn’t anything he couldn’t create with and I was witness as well as apprentice and then artist on my own. He gave me the wings and the backbone to be an artist. I am forever in gratitude for the many gifts he shared with me and the only way to is to pay it forward by mentoring, sharing and teaching which I do. I could share so much more. Because of both my mother’s creativity and Anton’s masterful mind this is what I am today, remembering and going forward because of them and also you! Thanks for supporting artist.
See you next week!