Get to Know a Member
interviewed and written by Jen Walls
Rita Szopinski: Healing With Art
Last year’s Florida Focus On Art winner took some time out to give us a little peek into her life for our first ever monthly member interview article. This elusive artist is not found on the internet or social media, and does not have a website, so the information you’ll be treated to here is EXCLUSIVE to G.C.W.S!
This year’s Florida Focus On Art winner took some time out to give us a little peek into her life for our second in a series of monthly member interviews. I caught up with Rita on a Sunday morning as she basked in island time in the Keys. This was her first time ever being interviewed.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Rita: Brown sugar maple oatmeal with blueberries. Sometimes I make scrambled eggs.
I understand you have a long commute. How do you pass the time?
Rita: I listen to NPR and audiobooks. Right now I am listening to Exit West, a love story about two people who met and are trying to make it work somewhere in the middle east.
What is your favorite color?
Rita: That’s a tough question. I lean toward blues - all shades of blue. It is a calming color.
Why do you paint?
Rita: I always loved art festivals, and bought and collected art. I have two uncles who are artists, so I have the art gene but never have painted. In 2006, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and during a 15 month course of treatment, I was introduced to Gilda’s Club, and started taking watercolor classes. Painting was so therapeutic! It wasn’t until 2008, at a Florida Watercolor Society trade show in Delray, that I bought my first paint brush and tube of paint. I fell in love with watercolor and now I am the president of FWS!
What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Rita: Anything with chocolate and nuts.
What do you want members to know about you?
Rita: Nothing, really. I am more a listener than a talker.
Do you have any nuggets of wisdom for other artists?
Rita: Paint what you love. I love to paint people; they tell a story.
Have you ever painted with food?
Rita: You mean like coffee? No, just watercolor. I’ve never painted with any other medium, but would like to experiment. There just isn’t enough time as I am working.
If you could see your art hanging anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Rita: In a happy place. A healing place. What is that hospital in Minnesota? The Mayo Clinic. I’d like to see it there.
FWS purchases one painting each year, and it goes to a hospital of the president’s choosing. This year, I chose Sylvester Breast Cancer Center at the University of Miami. More hospitals and medical facilities are developing collections because it is so healing to look at original art.
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