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ArtSpotlight

Lifetime Achievement Spotlight

Marilyn Shupe Whitney
Painter, Writer, Renaissance Woman

Marilyn Shupe Whitney's imagination first "sparked" when her father picked up an old German man carrying two grocery bags as he walked along a highway in Boston Heights, Ohio.

 

On the drive home, their passenger revealed he was an artist and asked if there was anything he could do to repay them for the ride. Marilyn's father asked if the man would give his 15-year-old daughter an art lesson.

 

That is how Marilyn received her first art lesson from William Sommer, one of the first artists in Ohio to embrace early modernism. Marilyn did not realize at the time that she was getting a lesson from a famous artist. Sommer took her to a hill overlooking a pasture with a brown cow and told her to paint what she saw. She painted the scene just as she saw it - brown cow and all. Through his thick German accent, Sommer said, "Stop now. Why are you painting that cow brown?" Marilyn said because the cow was brown. He told her something that stuck with her for the rest of her life: "You are the artist. You can paint the cow any color you wish, but brown. … Never, never paint the color brown with so many colors to choose from. As an artist, make the cow purple or red, but make it your own choice."

 

To this day, Marilyn boasts that she uses whatever color she chooses, and that first lesson spurred Marilyn into life filled with creativity.

 

During World War II, Marilyn took a photography class while attending Miami University in Ohio. She learned the ins and outs of photography, which became her first love. She enjoyed working in the darkroom developing film. Her favorite facets of photography are creating black and white photos and double exposures - especially combining the two. While attending Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., from age 65 to 76, Marilyn donated about 100 photos to the school for use in its 1996 to 1998 College Catalog. The catalog published 15 black-and-white photos and a full-color photo collage for the front and back cover.

 

Marilyn attended SFCC from 1992 to 2003 taking various art classes. During this time, she discovered another artistic passion - ceramics. She was interested in learning how to throw pots on a wheel and soon had her own studio where she sculpted her own "creations." However, when she and her family moved to a new house, Marilyn donated her studio supplies to SFCC.

 

She also became interested in printmaking while taking a class at SFCC. Marilyn's monotypes were featured in many art shows between 1993 and 2003, including a private show at the Thomas Center in Gainesville. Her prints also won different awards throughout those years, including a monotype that was selected for the 1996-1998 Southern Graphics Council Conference Traveling Exhibition.

 

Marilyn's current art medium finds her circling back to her first art lesson. Today, she turns her life events into watercolor paintings, which are mainly humorous scenes. As she approaches each watercolor, she begins by thinking about what the painting should illustrate. Marilyn spends most of her time on this step. She then writes a story about the picture she will paint. After that part is done, Marilyn brings the picture to life on paper.

 

Marilyn has taken this process a step further and now makes books. She has written six so far that feature her stories and paintings. She used her experiences battling breast cancer to create a book titled "With the Tendency to Flee," in an effort to help others cope with breast cancer. It was published by the University of Florida's Center for Research on Women's Health. She also published "Miz Marilyn's Memoirs, Etc." in 2005 illustrating some of her background and adventures while traveling. She is currently working on a new book that will feature her early memories.

 

Marilyn, above all, hopes her artwork entertains: "In this day and age, the news is all so bad. If I can bring a smile to someone's face, than it's worth something. That's what I work toward."

Click to Enlarge



Dance Contest Club Med



England3centtip



Om PaPaBand


Pan Am Highway


Paris, France The Louvre[


PoochParlor


Rio Grande River


Steps of Venice


Swinging Shirley


Vodka Party

 


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