Weatherly Stroh is an accomplished artist whose work centers around animals and landscapes. Oil is her preferred medium, with a technique characterized by sweeping brushstrokes and textural layers. While much of her work is done on canvas, she also paints on aluminum and stretched linen.
The natural world has always been a bountiful source of inspiration for Weatherly. Growing up on a farm in rural Michigan nourished her deep bond to the rhythms of nature and infused her unbridled love of animals. This affinity fuels her ability to connect with her subjects, while many years of experience as a competitive rider augments her intuitive understanding of horses. Emotion and connection are woven through every one of her animal-centered pieces.
Art is in Weatherly’s blood. When she was 11, Weatherly’s grandfather gave her a plein air paint box that had belonged to her great-great uncle, Gari Melchers, a globally acclaimed American Impressionist painter. This gift fired her lifelong enthusiasm for painting in oil. Travel is another great passion, and Weatherly searches the world to find the inspiring landscapes and animals she can immortalize in her art. Propelled by her natural curiosity, she constantly looks for fresh ways to express beauty, color, and emotion.
Living in horse-obsessed Wellington, Florida, Weatherly is invigorated by the ever-present dressage, showjumping, and polo. Her paintings of sport horses are infused with power and motion, capturing the controlled elegance of equine athletes. Most recently, one of her paintings was chosen as the cover art for Wellington’s 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival.
The vibrant light and natural beauty of Florida offer yet another profound source of inspiration. A profusion of flora and fauna flourish under an ever-changing sky, and Weatherly captures the perpetual motion of sea and sky in her striking landscapes.
Since she loves nothing more than being surrounded by nature and animals, Weatherly also delights in animal portraiture and is well-known for her ability to capture her subjects’ personalities on canvas. A passionate advocate for all animals, she donates a portion of the proceeds from her work to a variety of animal welfare and land preservation organizations.
Hello Weatherly! You say your art journey started when you were 11, and your grandfather gave you a plein air paint box that had belonged to your great-great-uncle. Tell me more about your beginnings.
Weatherly: Actually it was my father that gave me the painting kid that had belonged to Gari Melchers, my great-great-uncle who was an American Impressionist painter (I need to change that in my bio!). I had just returned from a trip and had taken a photograph of some ducks and was inspired to try and paint one of them. I always loved art as a kid but had never painted in oils before the duck painting. I don’t recall if I did other paintings at that time, but when I was in high school, I took a really wonderful painting class and learned to stretch my own canvases, and learned about famous artists.
Your art centers around animals and landscapes. What inspired you to pursue this subject?
Weatherly: I grew up on a horse farm in the countryside of Michigan. We had dogs, horses, and cats and I would spend my days exploring the out of doors. So, I think my subjects were ingrained in me from an early age!
Could you walk us through your process? How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
Weatherly: I was a photography major in college and took a ton of photography classes in high school, so I think a lot of my paintings reflect that foundation. I am always looking for interesting shadows and light, composition, and capturing movement. If I am not plein-air painting, I start with a photograph and lightly sketch the image onto the surface. Oftentimes, I use a grid to help keep the proportions accurate, which is very important to me especially when painting animals. I then begin painting. Lately, I’ve been painting more loosely and expressively, so I will start off a bit tighter and as I add layers of paint, I will get looser and looser always asking myself what’s important in the painting and what isn’t. The first layer, I am always trying to cover the surface and establish lights and darks and then with subsequent layers, I am thinking more about colors or making interesting marks.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Weatherly: When I first committed to painting full time, I was painting mostly dog and horse portraits for people. Now, I accept only a limited number of commissions and try to balance them with my own paintings. I started off more realistic and I am slowly moving towards a looser style. I’ve also started painting larger, which I am really enjoying. I feel like they have a stronger impact the larger they are.
What was the most recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on the most and why?
Weatherly: I had a painting that I created a few years ago that is 48″ x 48″ and was painted in a more traditional realistic style. It sat in my studio “finished” for years, but I was really never happy with it. So, one day a few months ago, I was feeling bold and sanded off the top layer of paint and worked back into the painting. It is now one of my favorite pieces that now is in a private collection in Louisville, KY. I think I’m most proud of having the courage to say screw it and go for it. I didn’t care if I ruined it, but just went for it. I am always striving to be that fearless in my studio…something to work towards!
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Weatherly: A recent commission I completed was for a woman that I knew from when I was 8. I had this grey pony named LA that I showed. I sadly outgrew him and so we sold him to this girl from Tennessee named Missy. She sent us photos of her and LA and all of her successes. We lost touch as we grew up, but through social media, we have been able to reconnect. She and her husband are building their dream house and asked me to create a painting of a grey horse for their mantle. It was such a fun project to complete on so many levels – reconnecting with Missy, creating a piece for their dream home, and reminiscing about LA who the painting is modeled after. One of my favorite parts of being a painter is connecting and reconnecting with people and hearing stories about how my work reminds them of an animal or a place they knew. So many of my clients are now friends.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
Weatherly: Growing up, I was a huge Matisse fan. I have a few paintings that I did in high school that were in the style of Matisse. I love his use of color and that you can see his process along the way. I love Degas’ horses – both paintings and sculptures, as well as Munnings, a sporting artist from the 1800s and early 1900s.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork?
Weatherly: I am always inspired by nature and travel. I find I am always composing paintings in my mind as I walk my dog. I have too many ideas and not enough time!
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about?
Weatherly: I am planning a show in July in Michigan, near the town where I grew up. I have a studio with a group of artists in West Palm Beach and we are planning our season opener Open Studio in November and I am planning a show to celebrate my 10th year as a full-time painter in Wellington, FL. One of the galleries I am in is in Saratoga Springs, NY Spa Fine Art and so I just sent a group of new paintings to them.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Weatherly: I hope my paintings connect people to an animal that they loved or remind them of a place that meant something to them. My goal is to go beyond a decoration on the wall that matches the couch.
What are you currently working on, and what is next for you?
Weatherly: I have a couple of commissions that I am working on as well as creating some new paintings for my upcoming shows. I am working on a few horse paintings on aluminum as well as some larger zebra paintings, which are fun and were inspired by a trip to Kenya and Africa I took with my mom for her 60th birthday. I hope to continue to push myself as an artist and to continue to grow and learn. I have been asked to teach and am considering it, it’s just a matter of finding the time for it!