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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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