I am a painter that dabbles both in realism and surrealism. I seek challenges, attempt to provoke thought, and promote love. I have become the artist I am today through a lot of practice, but I would be nothing without my friends and family.
Having lived my entire life in the remote Northwest corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, I have developed a deep seeded love and admiration for the outdoors, nature and history. Generations upon generations of my entire family have also lived in Ashe County and I grew up on stories of train rides through the mountains, and the hardships of living remotely.
I blame my late grandmothers for my artistic passion and unconditional love. My maternal grandmother Nancy Barr Severt “Nanny”, was a beautiful seamstress and teacher. She taught me patience, and seeded my creativity to grow into what it is today. I can still remember the day she signed me up for my first art class in 1997 with Stephen Shoemaker. I was cutting out the new collection of clothes for my paper dolls that she had given me, when she told me we were meeting with her friend Anne McGuire to go see Stephen at his home studio. I was enamored by his magical house. Brilliant orange fish greeted us in the small pond on this front lawn, and then this giant of a man came to the door. Stephen is well above average in the height department, but to 8 year old Whitney he was truly a giant. My fears were extinguished moments after entering his home, I quickly realized he was just a very tall child. There were toys everywhere, in actuality they were collectible replicas of antique cars and trucks, but to me I had just walked into FAO Schwarz. Throughout our weekly painting lessons, Stephen would set up a still life and as we worked he would read us “Jack Tales”. I would get lost in his storytelling as I painted, which come to think of it- is more than likely the reason why I listen to audio books when I paint today. Had it not been for my Nanny and Stephen, I wouldn’t have had the foundation and skill set to provide the caliber of paintings, enriched in details, like I do today.
My Nanny was very loving and creative, don’t get me wrong, but my paternal grandmother Lena Ruth Stuart “Mammaw”, truly embodied unconditional love, immense creativity, and an unrivaled work ethic. Coming from humbled beginnings, she followed her dreams of opening a florist in Jefferson- a true calling for the sweetest soul that ever walked the planet. She didn’t have to know you from Adam, if you were grieving- she would grieve with you or if you were excited she would do everything in her means to make your day even more special. The days I spent with her at the florist were engrossed in imagination and creativity. She had chimes on the door, so whenever someone entered they would sing throughout the florist. In my mind, those chimes were a teleportation signal that transported me to an Amazon rainforest. I would hide in the house plants and flowers and document the movements of the “wild life”, which were the stuffed animals she had for sale in the shop. She would beam her contagious smile at me and say in the most Southern draw, “Whatchu doinnn”. As long as it wasn’t inhaling helium to make my voice high pitched, anything was allowed under her watch within the florist. She would teach me how to arrange flowers, which colors complemented each other, but the freedom to be myself and to be loved was what resonated with me the most. Over the years I witnessed how much hard work and dedication it takes to be successful, and after her prime example, I hope to exemplify her in my life and career.
Having those people as my grandmothers was surreal, but their offspring- my parents, were just another derivative of the same cast. My mother, Natalie Severt Stuart, is the true definition of beauty, thoughtfulness, and encouragement. I don’t know if she didn’t want my brother and I making a mess in the house or that she was truly an advocate for Get Outside and Play, but she definitely encouraged us to use our imaginations outside. I can still hear her voice bellowing through the holler as she stood on the front porch and beckoned our return at dusk. Her trust in us to not do anything too perilous, allowed us freedom to explore and be adventurous. She also did not share any chromosomes with my father when it came to my physical appearance. In other words, she can never deny that I am hers, because I am her clone. My father and her other half, Norman Stuart, is the male, more rugged version of Lena Ruth. He has given me the appreciation of hard work and to think of others before myself. He is a commercial landscaper, often having to travel long distances for long periods of time. As a child I would wait until I heard his truck coming up the driveway and I ran and jumped on him before he had a chance to step inside. He has worked so hard to provide an unencumbered life for his family. Albeit, I only got a portion of his intense work ethic, I truly admire him and strive to make him proud every day. With his patience and love, I graduated Appalachian State with a BS in Chemistry and a concentration in Fermentation Science. He is an unconventional father, always wanting me to pursue my art instead of a fancy degree. Without his encouragement and support I would not have had the ability to begin my painting career.
In 2007, I found a very handsome guy that miraculously came equipped with all the endearing qualities of the aforementioned people. Having dated my best friend previously, I approached him with utmost caution and with her support of course. On our first date, we wrote a 17 month exclusivity contract on the back of a Bojangles napkin, but we did not need such a formality because we had fallen head over heels for one another. Twelve years, 2 cats, 4 dogs and two houses later, I can honestly say I wake up every day loving my husband more than the previous day. He makes me feel safe, valued, challenged and honored to be his wife, not in the way societal stigmas place the necessity for a woman to have a man, but the mutual respect, admiration and love you give to your best friend. If my art is ever worth mentioning or liked, it would not have been put into existence without my husband. When I come across a problem with idea execution, he always listens until I figure it out, or gives me logistical advice on how to complete the task. He’s the type of person that if I don’t like the lighting in a room, he’d rip the roof off and put it back inch by inch until I was happy with the outcome. Our mutual necessity to make the other’s life easier is what I hope to convey about our marriage.
Whitney Stuart Landwehrmann, the human, has a very wild imagination, loves nature, animals, all people, and of course painting- but WSL, the person and artist, has evolved from the many people she has had the pleasure of being loved by and loved in return. I pray my art finds you and that when it does, I hope it provides your soul with exactly what it needs.