If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the real-life paintings by artist Pat Anderson speak volumes about the places she's visited and events she's covered. Anderson, who lives in Pompano Beach, Florida, has captured on canvas everything from breathtaking cruising destinations like St. Lucia's Soufriere Hills, to symphony concerts on the beach at Cat Cay in the Bahamas, and brought them all to colorful life.
Born and raised in Mt. Vernon, New York, Anderson spent much of her childhood traveling with her parents to Florida and the Bahamas.
"I always kept a journal," she says. "My parents encouraged me to draw."
Anderson later attended college and graduated with a degree in art and art history from Florida State University. She immediately landed a dream job as fashion illustrator for upscale department store chain, Jordan Marsh. It was during this time that Anderson met her husband, Pete.
"He taught me how to sail and how to navigate by the stars," she says. "We owned a 30-foot Irwin we named Pride and our dinghy was named Joy."
It was Pete's sketch of a dinghy design on a cocktail napkin for friend Charlie Carey, founder of the Moorings, which led to an invitation for him and Anderson to charter a 51-foot Beneteau to cruise St. Lucia.
"They wanted me to experience what it was like to be on a Moorings charter," she says. "So, I sat up on deck and sketched. I put down on paper what I saw and Pete did the sailing."
Over the next few years similar trips took the Andersons to Grenada, Tortola and the Abacos. The Moorings loved her renditions so much that the company arranged for many works to become what Anderson calls 'luggage art' or artwork on T-shirts, totes, mugs, and other knickknacks. One of the most popular of these is a T-shirt of the Rum Squall Bar at the Moorings Base in Grenada.
From this starting point Anderson branched out to draw Caribbean scenes and itinerary maps for Windjammer Cruises. She also began showing at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, a move that led to many additional marine clients. One of these included owners on the private island of Cat Cay, where the couple were flown so that Anderson could paint scenes of the island.
"The island is so beautiful. All the rich colors," says Anderson. "Some say it's so pretty you can't take a bad photo. I felt like that about painting. I couldn't sketch a bad scene."
Anderson's life of travel and art changed focus in 2009 when Pete passed away.
"I love people, but I didn't want to go out and sit by myself," she says. "So, instead of, for example, sitting at the bar with Pete and sketching the calypso player, now I'd just sit and sketch."
This outside-looking-in perspective is what turned Anderson into an event artist. Her first foray into this unique branch of artistry took place on Cat Cay, when 50 members of the Miami Symphony were brought in by megayacht to perform seaside. The white vinyl tent that housed the orchestra, the kiosks where cracked conch and wines were served and the live peacocks prancing on the beach were so incredibly beautiful that Anderson wondered where the photographer was. That's when she was told it would be she alone sketching the event for all to remember.
Anderson paints in plein air and has traditionally used watercolors because they dry fast on a sailboat. She now also uses acrylics, mixed media and metallic paints. Last year, she even purchased a Kevlar sail and used it as a unique canvas to develop the men's shirts that will be sold this year at the International Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas. Her design is also featured on the lady's shirts.
"I can sit and draw for two or three hours and not know how much time has passed," she says.
Art is definitely Anderson's passion. Her energy is palpable in the bold colors of her designs and this is what makes her works of art so special.
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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.