By Shya Beth
Weatherly Stroh weaves together different parts of her life through her paintings, intertwining a piece of her spirit along with the animal she’s portraying. Giving life to her subjects through her paintbrush or sculpting clay, Weatherly has found herself in the “pony mad” Village of Wellington, one of the most equine-centric locations in the world. With so many high-class farms — from polo fields to show jumping and dressage rings — this is an equine artist’s dream location, and Weatherly’s home.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1974, Weatherly comes from a family of artists and entrepreneurs. Sculptor Julius Melchers and Gari Melchers, an American Impressionist painter, are just two family members that inspire her, and Weatherly is continuing on the family tradition while forging her own path.
“I come from a very creative family on both my mom and dad’s side,” Weatherly said. “My mom is an incredible graphite artist and now does bronze sculptures of dogs and horses. Growing up, every time we would add another dog or horse to our menagerie, she would do a drawing of them. Her work covered the walls of our house when I was a kid and now I love having it in my own home.”
The Artistic Life
Being part of an artistic family was something Weatherly appreciated from the time she was young. “My great-great uncle, Gari Melchers, was an American Impressionist painter, and his father, Julius, was a wood sculptor. As a kid, we would visit my dad’s office in downtown Detroit, which had a Gari Melchers painting and one of Julius’ sculptures, and I was in awe of both.”
When Weatherly was 8, she and her mom visited Belmont, in Falmouth, Virginia, for the first time to see Gari Melchers’ home and studio. “It was really amazing to see the vast amount of work he produced during his lifetime and to see inside his studio set up just as it was when he was alive,” she said. “I think as an artist and growing up in a creative family, I see the world differently than most people: I see the way the light hits different objects to create interesting shadows or how certain colors seem to vibrate when they’re next to one another. I make sense of the world from a visual perspective and look for beauty everywhere I go.”
Specializing in animal portraits and landscapes and with her chosen medium in oil paints, Weatherly was an art student at Cranbrook-Kingswood in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Continuing her education in the arts, she graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a master’s degree in education. “I was living in Colorado, teaching skiing at Beaver Creek, then had a back injury,” she said. “After that, I decided to go back to school to get my Master of Education, teaching third and fourth grade in the Vail Valley. I enjoyed teaching, but by 2010 was burnt out and decided to become a full-time painter.”
Although Weatherly doesn’t currently have a horse, she’s enjoying the artsy side of being an equestrian on a day-to-day basis. “I’m an early riser so I’m up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. each day. I’ve been trying to meditate more consistently, and exercise, of course,” She said. “Heading to my studio in West Palm Beach, I usually try to put in three to four hours of solid painting time in the morning. Then Gus, my new rescue dog and studio assistant, and I walk to lunch. When we get back to the studio, I paint some more depending on deadlines and projects I have or I work on marketing or follow up with emails and phone calls with clients.”
Weatherly grew up riding in her home state of Michigan with Zander Duffield and showed throughout her junior career in both equitation and hunters. “My parents met while riding and were lifelong horse lovers, so it was inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps,” she said.
One of Weatherly’s most fulfilling and memorable times riding was when both she and her mom were showing together in Colorado. “I had taken about 17 years off from riding and had just returned to the show ring,” she said. “We overlapped for about a year before she had to retire from riding due to back issues.”
Though she no longer shows, horses remain a part of her life and her art. Weatherly is really proud of taking the plunge and committing to painting full-time, creating a business from scratch and supporting herself as an artist. “I spent eight weeks in Italy last summer for a master class, painting landscapes en plein air, which means painting outside from life,” she said. “It was fun and very challenging to get out of the comfort of my studio and do something different. I’m planning on spending some time in Ireland painting this summer. I have to pinch myself that I get the opportunity to go to so many amazing places for my work.”
Painting Into the Future
With a look into the future, Weatherly’s plans for horses and art aren’t slowing down. “On occasion, I give one-on-on painting lessons in my studio and would like to lead painting workshops to interesting locations like Italy or Ireland,” she said. “This year, I have a few events in Wellington. In February, I’m part of a benefit for American Humane and my work will be on display. A portion of the proceeds from my work goes to American Humane, Danny & Ron’s Rescue and the Palm Beach Shelter Dog Project.”
And another horse? “I think when the time is right, I would love to get another horse to show in the amateur-owner hunter division,” Weatherly said, “ — although, I’m going to take a polo lesson soon with a friend of mine, so who knows, maybe that will lead me in a whole new direction!”
For more information, visit weatherlystroh.com and follow her on Facebook and Instagram
Art Of The Horse is the world’s first equine art platform, established in 2014 by Shya Beth. With weekly articles featuring up-and-coming as well as world-renowned artists, exhibitions and art news, Art Of The Horse is the premier source for all things equine art. Visit artofthehorse.net.
Photos courtesy of Weatherly Stroh, unless noted otherwise