Artists and beloved local resident Patton Hunter recently passed away. Several years ago we interviewed Hunter to learn about her journey into the arts. After her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Patton Hunter, at age 50, found her own personal therapy through the brush. In 2011, she was recognized by The Artist’s Magazine as one of the Top Ten Artists in America Over 60.
Sylvia Rusche, a patron of the arts, and dear friend of Hunter’s, wrote this in her memory:
“You were special in this world and will now beautifully color your next one just as you did ours.”
Hat Lady with Cat
Here is a transcript from an interview we conducted with Hunter several years ago.
Where are you from originally?
Born in Atlanta, GA, but lived all over the country as my Dad was with the Federal Government. I lived two years in Germany as a newspaper reporter for an English language newspaper and lived two years aboard a 43-ft sailboat while cruising the Bahamas, the west coast of Europe, the British Isles and Ireland.
Before painting, what did you do? Did you always know you were an artist at heart?
I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor and public relations executive for the American Heart Association, Y&R Advertising (St. Pete, FL branch) and as a freelance editor/publisher for National Medical Enterprises, a large hospital group with a number of hospitals in West Central FL. I’ve loved art since I was a child and at one time had a book subscription from the National Museum of Art where I could cut out colored reproductions of famous paintings and paste them next to the text about the painting and the artist. I never cared about dolls, but I loved my art books. Although it took me a long time to begin creating art, I always knew it was in me, waiting for me to say “now!”
How do you describe your art? Where do you get your inspiration? Your biggest influence.
I find my art difficult to describe, but I think if it is categorized, it would probably fall somewhere between expressionistic and fauvist. I’ve grown from a start in somewhat traditional watercolors to bolder, more emotionally powerful pieces that elicit strong responses from viewers. My work has changed dramatically through the years, not so much due to experience, but rather because I get very excited about other artwork I see and want to try a similar style or technique. I’m always on the move mentally, making it very difficult to put together a large body of work that galleries insist on. My greatest inspiration comes from other artists, some very famous like Gauguin and Cezanne, some with whom I’ve studied, like the late Marjorie Dean Andruk, and contemporaries I discover in surfing the internet. The resources available to us now are mind boggling. No matter what advice I need on products, methods, whatever, it’s just a click away.
Love You Crazy Amanda
You also teach at the Morean Arts Center, what do you teach? What do you like about it?
Teaching, more than anything else, has allowed me to grow and experiment as an artist. In a classroom of interested and talented adults, I have to work like crazy to stay ahead of them and give them everything they can absorb and apply to their own creations. I most often teach abstract art and a more traditional course that teaches how to draw accurately, arrange subject matter for a good composition and then paint. I occasionally teach more advanced classes where students bring their own ideas and styles to the classroom and I work with them through an ongoing critique process. Although I love teaching, I don’t allow myself a set schedule of ongoing classes. It seems to drain energy from my own work and I don’t think it’s good for serious students to stay with one instructor too long.
Is there anything that most people are shocked to learn about you?
There’s not much shocking about me. I hope that’s not the same as being dull. But, of course, anything that might be shocking I’ll take to the grave with me.
What do you think about Arts in St. Pete and its future?
There’s no stopping the ‘Burg now. Not only are we recognized as a top destination for art, but our artists are gaining recognition along with the town. I think the Morean Arts Center is making a huge contribution to our reputation as a center for the visual arts. Even through these current hard economic times, the art community has held on and even grown. When the tide turns our way again, we’ll be riding the crest.
What do you love most about the ‘Burg?
Where to start? the downtown cultural buzz, the diversity of the populace, my industrial style loft/gallery/studio, the beautiful winters, art galleries, great restaurants within an easy walk, the mental energy, the love people have for our little city, so much more. When I arrived in St. Pete in 1974, downtown was almost a blighted area. Nobody was on the streets because there was no reason to be here. We’ve come a long way and when the State’s politics become as enlightened as its people, we’ll be unstoppable.