Get to know Weatherly Stroh
Born in Detroit in 1974, Weatherly Melchers Stroh comes from a long lineage of artists including sculptor, Julius Melchers and American Impressionist painter, Gari Melchers. Continuing in the family tradition, Stroh is an oil painter and sculptor specializing in animal portraits and landscapes.
Stroh’s career as a painter and sculptor brings together a variety of aspects of her life – as a young art student at Cranbrook-Kingswood, as a girl growing up on a horse farm in Metamora, and as an avid, nationally ranked horsewoman. With this foundation, Stroh returned to her love of painting after following other professional, personal and artistic pursuits. A graduate from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and a Master’s degree in Education, she turned her focus from using art as an educational tool to painting full time in 2010.
Stroh’s work can be found in a myriad of public and private art collections both in the United States and abroad. A class member of L. Brooks Patterson’s 2013 Elite 40 under 40, a 2013 MI Great Artist finalist, and the 2014 MI Great Artist winner, Stroh currently works out of her studio in Birmingham, Michigan.
As an advocate for all animals, a portion of the proceeds of her painting sales goes to the Michigan Humane Society.
1. Was there a pivotal moment that began your career as an artist?
I have been creative my entire life and have painted off and on since I was in middle school. I took a painting class in high school and another in college and was a photography and ceramics major in college. Actually, the class I took in college steered me away from painting for a long time, but for some reason, I kept getting called back to paint. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I would take painting workshops here and there, but didn’t consistently put the time in. Then, in 2010, I went through some major personal changes and realized I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing and how I was living my life. At the time, I was teaching 4th grade and knew it wasn’t my calling. So, I decided to quit and give myself a year to see where painting would lead me. Finally committing to painting and giving myself the time and space to unfold made a huge difference and lead to where I am today.
2. Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
For my portraits, I like to meet my subjects when possible. I work from photographs, so I prefer to meet the animal I will be painting and see his or her personality and then take photographs. Of course, this isn’t always possible as I have clients all over and some of my subjects have passed, so in these cases, my clients will send me photos to work from. I then work out the composition and sketch out the image with a pencil to start. After that, I begin laying in the paint. I work in oils and so I build up layers of colors which gives the paintings a richness and depth. The final stage is glazing, which is adding very thin, transparent layers of color over dried layers of opaque paint. Finally, when it is complete, I varnish and frame the painting.
For the other paintings that I do, I either work from photos or paint en plein air, which is painting from life. I just returned from a painting retreat in Tuscany where we were painting the Tuscan landscape en plein air. This is so challenging as you have to deal with wind, bugs, heat, the changing light, etcetera, but it is really enjoyable at the same time to be in a beautiful setting trying to capture the moment. I’ve done a bit of plein air painting of horses, as well, which was so tough – horses don’t stop moving! Even if they’re standing still, they’re shifting their weight, twitching their ears, or moving their heads.
3. How has your artistic style developed and changed over your career?
When I am painting portraits, my style has definitely become tighter and more realistic than when I began. When I am painting for myself, I like to experiment and try to break free from that style. I’ve been playing around with painting on metal and using rollers rather than brushes, to create motion and a more gestural image.
4. Where do you find inspiration and who are your biggest influences?
I definitely find inspiration being around animals and in nature. I grew up on a farm in Michigan, and so I have always appreciated nature and love being outdoors. I also get inspired by other artists. My great- great uncle, Gary Melchers, was an American Impressionist painter, so I love looking at his work when I have a chance. I love Corot’s landscapes, John Singer Sargent, Degas’ horses, and Matisse. I am so inspired by Picasso and the volume and variety of work he produced in his lifetime – it is humbling! Whenever I travel, I enjoy going to museums and galleries to find inspiration. I also love contemporary artists such as Howard Post, Jill Soukup, Michael Workman, Alex Kanevsky, Gerhard Richter, and sculptor Deborah Butterfield.
5. Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?
I would love to meet my great-great uncle, Gary Melchers. He spent a number of years in Europe and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and then eventually settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Join us for a Trick Or Treat Reception on Saturday, October 27th and meet one of our featured artists, Weatherly Stroh. A portion of art sales on the 27th will be donated to The Leo Conroy Maclay Grant.