Long before Pat Weaver began pursuing her passion for art, she was known as a businesswoman and politician in Dade City.
“I had retail stores downtown. I had Tricia’s. Then, I had Church Street Gallery. Then, I had Pat-e-cat’s,” said Weaver, who also served the community as both a city commissioner and later a mayor for Dade City.
She enjoyed politics and retailing, but was always drawn to art.
About four decades ago, Weaver began taking periodic trips to Scottsdale to take classes from accomplished artists.
“I would save up money and go out there and rent an apartment and stay two weeks at a time and study,” Weaver said. “Then, I’d come home for a year or two and save up my money and go back again.”
She stayed with retail, as she honed her artistic technique. Then, she began offering classes on the side.
“I started teaching locally, day classes and night classes,” Weaver said. “I also traveled to Lakeland and Plant City. That’s where I kind of cut my teeth on teaching.”
Initially, she painted with oils.
“About 20 years ago, I went into transparent watercolor. I just fell in love with the medium and decided I wanted to try it. It was an instant love affair with watercolor,” said Weaver.
Since teaching herself watercolor, she has gone on to write books about the art form, and offers workshops around the country. In fact, “I am better known away from Dade City than I am here,” said Weaver, whose book “Watercolor Simplified” is available through Amazon.com.
“I like to paint with a lot of energy and see things develop quickly,” Weaver said. “Watercolor allows for that, much more than any other medium does.”
Weaver teaches about 20 workshops a year, generally booked two to three years out. She’s taught in Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia, San Diego and Arizona.
She’s shared her knowledge in other countries, too.
“I’ve taught in the Bahamas and in Mexico, Italy, Spain, England, France,” Weaver said. Most of the students in her international classes have traveled from the United States to take part.
She lines up most of the work through art associations, watercolor societies and other organizations that sponsor her workshops. She handles her own travel arrangements.
“It just evolved over many years,” said Weaver, who has a home studio on the 36 acres she shares with her husband, Glenn.
Weaver said she gained considerable exposure about 15 years ago, when she was elected president of the Florida Watercolor Society. But her love for art dates back to childhood. She credits her mother for nurturing her creative spirit.
“She’s the one who instilled that desire in me to do art,” Weaver said.
Her seventh-grade teacher, Myra O’ Berry, was a positive influence, too.
“She would just assign me a special project and tell me to go down to the teachers’ lounge to draw it,” Weaver said. “She saw my gift.”
She pays forward that encouragement to her students while challenging them at the same time.
“I want them to be knowledgeable,” Weaver said.
They also need to know that excellence requires commitment, she said.
“The only way you can become good at anything is by doing it over and over and over,” Weaver said. “You have to be persistent and be willing to practice and apply what you learn. You can’t go and take three days of lessons and then go home and not paint until you decide to go back and take another workshop. There are no shortcuts to getting there.
Weaver said she doesn’t try to shape an artist’s style or point-of-view, but she seeks to broaden their knowledge and help them improve their techniques.
When she’s teaching or creating art, she’s absorbed by the work.
“When you are really into painting, you’re oblivious to anything else,” Weaver said.
She has a spontaneous approach to painting. She completes her artworks in one sitting.
She said her favorite type of art tends to be whatever she’s working on at the moment. But she does acknowledge a special fondness for doing commissioned portraits of dogs.
“As long as I get to paint, I’m happy,” Weaver said.
On a typical day she heads out to her studio about 10 a.m. and paints until about 4 p.m., with a break for lunch. Her days go longer when she’s on the road teaching.
She enjoys sharing what she knows.
“I love to see people learn and get excited about what they are doing,” she said. “They begin to see things differently than they ever saw them before.
“Most people don’t pay any attention to the light outdoors, or the colors, or the values. When you start painting, you become very aware of things.”
One of the things she loves about painting is that people can do it at any age.
“As long as your eyes are good and your hands are pretty steady, you can paint into late years. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do,” she said.
Over the years, being an artist has had its satisfactions and its setbacks. Not every painting comes out the way she would like, but when they don’t, she just picks up another piece of watercolor paper and gets busy again.
That approach has yielded a rich life, filled with wonderful experiences and good friends, Weaver said.
“It’s taken me a very, very long time to get to the point that I am now,” she said. “But I’ve enjoyed the journey.”
To learn more about Pat Weaver and her art, visit www.patweaver.net.