- March 7, 2018
WINDERMERE – You may have seen his artwork at a Windermere Art Affair or noticed him sitting with his head down, pen and paper in hand, as he drew detailed scenes during a town hall meeting.
Stephen Withers, an artist residing in Windermere, attends the Town Council meetings to remain in the know about what is going on in his town but draws because he sometimes finds them tedious, he said. Sometimes, he draws scenes of individuals receiving an award and gifts it to them as a keepsake.
The drawings from the meetings, he said, come easily to him, but other art forms do not. That is why Withers now spends much of his time learning a new set of artistic skills by taking classes.
As a former architect, Withers spent 20 years traveling the world while designing luxury travel resorts for Marriott Vacation Club International. He currently is helping design the new town administration offices that town officials hope to build in the future, as well as the veterans memorial that will be located in front of town hall.
“When I was in architecture most of my artistic expression came out through the architecture,” Withers said. “I’ve always drawn, but now that I’m retired, I have a lot more time to paint and draw.”
Withers, whose mother was an art major, said he’s been drawing since he can remember. But now, he is dedicated to learning how to paint in a variety of different styles and with different materials he’s never had to use before — a transition which has presented unique challenges for someone with a formal architectural background. Currently, he is learning how to paint with a palette knife under the tutelage of Winter Garden artist Noreen Coop.
“She’s a palette-knife painter, and architects don’t do palette-knife painting,” Withers said with a hearty laugh. “They do fine, thin lines. So it’s been fun to loosen up and get away from such formal training and everything else. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s totally outside my realm of comfort.”
Although outside his comfort zone, Withers has successfully painted many pieces, including nature, landscapes and conceptual art. Conceptual art has remained his favorite, because it allows him to use his imagination to embed certain mathematical ideas and history into his masterpieces. His favorite is called “The Three Leonardos,” which hangs above the stairs in his home.
“I tend to incorporate certain things from my architectural background,” Withers said. “I’m really interested in proportion and scale based on the Golden Mean and pi. … I incorporate a lot of history in my paintings.”
Angela Withers, his wife and the president of the Henry Nehrling Society that overlooks the Nehrling Gardens in Gotha, said her favorite pieces of his are also those that are genuine products of his imagination.
“My favorites are the ones that he puts all these ideas into where he follows his imagination,” Angela Withers said. “He has this remarkable imagination that he loves to use and share, and it’s one of the things that draws people to him and his paintings. … And he’s always been that way as long as I’ve known him. This is all fun for him. This is where he gets his energy from.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]