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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