[flute music] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (Jim Welch) Anne Worsham Richardson... South Carolina artist, naturalist.
Her wildlife paintings are in galleries and in private collections throughout the United States and many foreign countries.
It's just a short distance from downtown Charleston to her home and bird sanctuary on the marshes of the Ashley River.
Today, Anne is foremost known for her bird paintings, yet in her early days as a fledgling artist on the family farm in Turbeville, South Carolina, birds weren't her only interest.
(Welch) What were the subjects of your early sketches and paintings?
Anything that walked by or blinked.
Any living creatures, from cats, dogs, turkeys that were in my grandmother's barnyard, guineas, or any kind of chickens, or pigs, horses.
Domestic animals... what about the wildlife?
Well, and then I started doing an occasional bird.
I remember, even in the fifth grade, that I did a cardinal.
At the age of two, an accident perhaps swung you in the direction of painting.
I think it's a great advantage to use all your mishaps in life to the best advantage possible.
Relate that story, how it happened.
Well, it's told by my older sister and so forth that I fell off a high porch in the country when we were visiting, and during that time, I had a injury to my neck and my collarbone.
And I was in a body cast for a while.
And during that time I didn't walk, of course.
And they placed me in the corner, say, on a play area, prob'ly on a quilt or something, and gave me watercolors, and I learned to use my hands, because I couldn't walk around or anything.
What was family life like during the first ten years?
I was very shy, and I often think that I prob'ly used painting to communicate, prob'ly to get attention and to pass the time.
I don't know.
Not consciously did I do it to get attention, but just to communicate to other people that I was there, perhaps.
This was life on the Turbeville farm.
Well, it was a tobacco and cotton farm, and it was interesting to watch the development of different things that happened on the farm.
My father and mother were very interested in birds.
He knew all the birds, and he imitated different birdcalls.
I remember one of the calls-- he had to call all the children from across the fields or wherever we were playing-- was the sound of a cardinal's call.
When we heard that cardinal, we knew to go home.
How important was advice and praise that family members gave you?
Since I'm from a family of seven children, Mother learned early not to pay too much attention to anyone's achievement.
So we were all sort... it was my thing, but then the others had just as important things for their development as, perhaps, my painting.
I didn't really get any great acclaim in the family for painting, although they were... they noticed it to a degree.
But I wasn't any great star or anything in the family, [laughing] I didn't think.
Of course, they think differently, maybe.
I just felt like I was comfortable with whatever.
Mostly outsiders, of course, would... the family would show my work to them.
Your father, even though he died when you were quite young-- Yeah, seven years old.
He'd introduce you as the-- As the artist, his artist.
One was his little cook.
Different children had different things they did well.
Turbeville being a small, rural community, you didn't run down to the corner store and pick up art supplies.
That's right, and so quite often, instead of using a lot of paper to sketch on, I learned early to concentrate and get my composition in my head.
Sometimes I'd stare at a blank wall and get the whole composition in my head before I put it on paper, because if I got a new drawing tablet, prob'ly it would be used up, like I was hungry to put something down.
I would use up the whole tablet in no time.
Then I would be out of paper.
I learned to not do awful lot of sketches.
My older brother moved to Charleston after...
I guess I was about seven.
And he would often send me watercolors.
And then my aunt Jeanie, she's an artist and also has written children's books and things.
She would give me watercolors and let me borrow her brushes sometimes.
When she was three, she really did do something that was... you could recognize it.
And at three, she did a turkey, a wild... a turkey that was strutting in her grandmother's barnyard.
And she did it.
And her father asked her if she did it.
And she said, "Yes, I did."
He looked at it, and he sort of doubted.
And he asked her to please do it again.
So he watched her, and she did it again.
So that was when he knew, and they all knew, that she had quite a lot of talent.
When did you realize Anne would become famous as an artist?
Well, I think that she must have been around 14 before I realized that she really was going to become great, because she did such wonderful things, and they were done so beautifully.
And of course, from then on, we knew... that she would be famous someday.
It came very gradually because she was a very shy person, always had been.
But as I said before, she was wise.
And we, we knew... what she had and what she would do.
We were sure of that.
You followed her career closely?
I was very much interested.
We visited back and forth...
I was with her quite a bit.
When she was...I think she must have been 15 or 16, she spent the summer with me up on the river.
She did quite a few things then.
And of course, we knew then.
Well, she was selling.
She started selling when she was around seven, I think.
(Welch) It was also when Anne was seven, in second grade, that winning first place in the state fair had an impact on her early development as an artist.
Well, the teachers sent the pictures out, you know, and I won first, a blue ribbon.
But I never felt that it was too important to win prizes...
I never have.
I've won several, but I always tell other children that if you don't win, it's prob'ly just as important what you do with the fact that you didn't win as it is to, um...
I mean, don't paint just for prizes.
For some time I've been giving color slide programs, taking the films and presenting color slide programs in the schools.
They seem to respond very well.
Then we have tours through the house and the gallery.
At any given time, appointments are made.
Then I show them some of the live birds, and they learn to have-- You do have a license to maintain a sanctuary?
Yes, it's necessary to have a federal permit and state permit, also, to have birds in captivity.
I never really wanted to have caged birds, but when someone rings your doorbell, and you're a bird painter, and they have a injured bird, you just help it out, take it in.
[no audio] These are incapacitated and will be in the sanctuary permanently because they have only one wing apiece.
Somebody shot them, even though it's against the law to shoot them.
Can you imagine anyone wanting to shoot such a beautiful thing?
[children chattering] This is a cattle egret, and you might see it in pastures near, uh... where cattle are.
It originally came from Africa, and in 1955, or around that time, it showed up in America.
And now you can see them all over the United States.
As far as Missouri, I've seen them.
And they follow the cattle around and eat the insects off of them.
But if it gets freezing weather, we have to take it inside because it has no shelter on that side.
But I can use it many times for a model, and it seems to have adapted to living in here with a black-crowned night heron and a laughing gull.
And they get along pretty well together.
(female student) How did you get the hawk that you have?
The hawk, the red-shouldered hawk?
I got it from... the Medical University brought it to me.
I mean, somebody there.
It had been shot also.
It's against the law, you know, to shoot a hawk.
It had to have its wing amputated, so it's in captivity for life.
It seems to not be completely miserable.
It seems to enjoy life some.
I guess life is important, even if you don't have a wing.
Some birds adapt to having only one wing much better than others.
[distant traffic sounds] Do most people bring you the birds they found?
Yeah...I never have gone and searched for a bird, except in the field to see where they nest and what kind of tree to place them in when I'm painting.
I never even wanted a bird in a cage because they're much prettier in the wild.
If they're brought here, I offer sanctuary to them.
That's the least I can do.
(Welch) Let's talk for a moment about art education and your training.
Well, in some ways, I suppose, one might say I'm self-taught because I sought out different things.
But I did have some formal training, you might say, because I had drawing in elementary school.
When I moved to Charleston when I was 16, I had about six-weeks' course in oil painting.
I found that that wasn't really my best medium, so I work primarily in watercolor now.
Does it bother you to have someone look over your shoulder?
Not really, if I'm doing something that I think I know what I'm doing.
It's when I'm doing a new composition or something that's rather serious that I might need to be alone.
But I'm just doing a little technical demonstration here of how the watercolor makes a magnolia leaf.
Sometimes it's important to get some in your highlights.
So I use, um, reflective colors that you might find in nature, and one is blue 'cause the sky is blue... would reflect the blue on the highlight of the leaf.
Using that, then, when you do the overpainting of the... dark green for the leaves, that will shine through.
I add some color later to the leaves, to the edge of the leaves and to the stems... [brush clinking in water glass] and the, um...
I usually do a underwash of a pastel color, which can be a reflective color such as blue.
(Welch) One thing that's amazing is that you didn't take a pencil and sketch it out.
That just takes up that much more time.
And since I've got so many shows ahead of me and so many different paintings, I might as well go ahead and-- I think it might give the work a little more freedom, too, not to have so much, um, presketching and all that.
How important was Charleston Museum to your career?
The Charleston Museum was a good source of the science training that I needed because they have quite a collection of all...mammals' and birds' study skins.
And then they have the skeletons.
I used to do the skeletons of a horse.
When I was still on the farm, I'd come down and visit Uncle James Worsham, who lived here in Charleston, and his wife, Aunt Annabelle.
And then my aunt Jean Chandler, of course, was in the vicinity of Charleston, and I'd visit her and have some access to The Charleston Museum during those visits.
And I might do a skeleton of a horse and then go back to the farm.
And a lot of the people who had saddle horses would bring horses, and I would do a portrait of a horse, see?
But I did the skeleton first.
Then I, I learned how to-- during the Renaissance period, when the apprentice to the artist would learn different parts of the body, you might take a week or two weeks or a month on an elbow, learning exactly what an elbow looks like from the bone structure from every side and how bending the elbow, the joints change.
I just took that as an example, but doing the different parts of the skeletons of the human body and the horses, dogs, cats, and birds.
When I got to birds, started doing birds, then there was no limit to what one-- you could take one model of a bird, live, and with the skeleton as a background, you could do, maybe, a thousand different paintings.
Every one would be different because a bird moves so many different ways.
Or it can fly, see?
I didn't really think about being a bird painter when I was little.
All of this today will come into play when you sit at an easel.
I suppose so, but I always thought that an artist should learn all the background of whatever creatures they're doing, attitudes and everything, and so-- I don't know what made me think that or who told me.
I got a lot of it out of books, and I was greatly inspired, always, by Aunt Jean.
Charleston Museum... did it impress you, I mean, in terms of Audubon studying there?
Yes, it was very inspiring to me to go there and find a study skin.
I was looking for a Bachman's warbler one day.
It's a very tiny, little bird, with a yellow bib... black and yellow.
Anyway, I was looking for that bird.
I found on the card-- a little tag on the bird-- that it was collected by John James Audubon near Huger, South Carolina.
That was very...
I felt very peculiar using that bird for a model that he prob'ly had used too.
What age did professors at the museum and other Charlestonians recognize the, perhaps, genius of Anne Worsham Richardson?
It was in the late '40s or middle '40s.
I went to The Charleston Museum.
I was very shy.
I got the courage up to knock on Mr. Milby Burton's door, the director, and asked to use the study skins.
I happened to have...I had been going to Hampton Park where they had a lot of ducks.
I had done a wood duck, a pair of wood ducks.
I had that as my example of my work.
When he saw it, he said, "You can get any study skins you want."
Usually, they don't let just anybody have them because they protect them from careless handling.
But they figured if I was careful enough to do a bird painting like that, that I prob'ly would take care of the skins.
After that, he was very... he could have easily... prob'ly turned the key in my very sensitive soul that day to discourage me.
But he didn't... he encouraged me.
Then I got to working in the back, in the laboratory with Mr. Burnham Chamberlain, who was a zoologist on duty there.
Mr. Chamberlain, if you followed behind his heels, you could learn quite a lot, so I tried.
I remember I didn't even know... the bird sounds, I couldn't put with the right bird.
He helped quite a bit to identify the bird before we even saw it by the sound, the calls.
He just has a wonderful way of helping train somebody.
I guess he wasn't aware that he was helping me, but he was.
Do you remember your first exhibit of your paintings, your collection?
Yes... the first exhibit, formal exhibit, one-woman show, was in Macon, Georgia, at the Georgia Ornithological Society.
That's the first time I ever had an exhibit, and that was 1949.
How many pieces in it?
Do you remember?
I had about 25 pieces.
And so by '49 I was, you know, it was considered I was a bird painter by then.
The California trip meant a great deal to your career.
I got more, um, experiences of various kinds.
I lectured in colleges and universities out there, as well as a lot of different clubs, and in museums too.
Let's talk about the main thrust.
I think you took 50... 50 or 80 paintings out there on exhibit.
It was 76.
The first exhibit was in 1970.
It was real interesting how I got that invitation.
I was invited by NASA to be a guest at the Apollo 11 space launch in 1969.
It just happened that I was at the right place at the right time.
And Mr. Bill McCann, director of the California State Museum in Los Angeles, happened to sit next to me at lunch.
Mr. McCann sat down.
A very outgoing person, he immediately said, "What do you do?"
I said, "I'm a painter."
I didn't say "bird painter" at first.
I thought I wouldn't have to get around to that.
People always laugh and say, "You mean, you paint birds?"
So I just said I was a painter.
He said, "What do you paint?
I'm a museum director."
I said, "I'm a bird painter, primarily."
He said, "I wish I could see some of your paintings."
I said, "I didn't bring any, "but I have some cards that National Wildlife had published of my Christmas card designs."
As soon as he saw them, he got his calendar for the 1970 schedule of exhibits and said, "We would love to have you for an exhibit in California at our museum."
So it came about in 1970.
This was another major, perhaps, turning point in your career.
Yes...1970, I had this show, and it lasted two months.
I was out there four weeks the first time.
California is quite a place, and being a state museum, they had quite a lot of funds at that time.
I had a state car, met me at the airport.
I had a secretary assigned to me.
She traveled with me and told me when to be where.
I was assigned... they put me on a salary during the month as a lecturer.
Did you spread some good words about South Carolina?
I certainly did...
I showed a lot of color slides of scenes where I would watch birds, like Magnolia Gardens, Middleton, islands such as Bull's Island.
(Welch, voice-over) Today her husband, John, runs the administrative side of the business.
He is probably her number one fan and insists that only Anne's paintings be hung in their home on the Ashley River above Charleston.
John also operates the framing studio in one portion of the house, takes care of the print publishing business, and often has to handle distribution of prints and setting up Anne's exhibits in cities from coast to coast.
Sometimes when Anne has a show out of state, we're traveling all the way to the... to the exhibit hall and setting up the show, taking the pictures there, and be on hand for receptions too.
And besides that, I have to visit all the galleries and frame shops, the ones who handle Anne's work.
And that's it, huh?
This is the picture.
And it will be Anne's latest print, coming out shortly before Christmas.
The state bird of Alabama, yellow-shafted flicker, and the bicentennial tree, the poplar tree.
How does it compare with her other works?
Are you her own worst critic, perhaps?
No, I'm her greatest admirer, I would say.
And I feel always love and compassion and understanding in her work.
And I think it's just beautiful.
♪ [lively orchestral music] ♪ ♪ ♪ (Welch) Many of the prints are sold at the Birds I View Gallery in Charleston, with help from Anne's sister Jessie and brother-in-law Bil.
Visitors to the gallery have commented that her paintings of birds look real, as if they might fly out of the paintings.
These are some of the limited-edition prints that my husband and I have published... we've published 24.
The first one here is a cardinal, which is the state bird of North Carolina.
I paint from living models whenever possible because I have a sanctuary, and I use a live model in native habitat.
This cardinal was hand-raised, and this one was brought to me by a general.
It's interesting to recall how I get different models.
This is a black-capped chickadee.
It's the state bird of Massachusetts and Maine.
This is Barn Owlbert's family portrait.
Barn owl...the barn owl was brought to me several years ago.
In fact, in 1972.
I selected this corner of a hayloft because I recall when I was little that we had barn owls nesting over our stables in a hayloft, and my father wouldn't let us disturb the owls because they helped keep the mice down.
This is the state bird of Maryland, and it's the northern oriole, or the Baltimore oriole, as we have been used to calling it that.
It's on a pear blossom.
This shows mallards in full flight.
I used live models I borrowed from Joe MacElveen, who raises them for a preserve.
This was the first painting I did after John Paszek and I got married.
His name is really Johannes Peter Paszek.
It has quite a nice rhythm.
We've been married a little over three years.
This is the state bird of South Carolina, and this is the second limited-edition print that I have done of the state bird.
The first one was sold out.
And, um... it shows two parents and one young.
♪ (Welch) She has been likened to Audubon, and, in some cases, critics have agreed she is better than Audubon.
She is the only woman artist ornithologist in the Wilson Ornithological Society and is an active member of the American Ornithologists' Unio, the National Audubon Society, and the National Wildlife Federation.
She is the only woman bird painter ever to be selected by the Federation to receive the Art Print of the Year award.
She was also commissioned by executive order from former governor John West to paint the Carolina wren with yellow jessamine... the state bird and state flower.
And, most recently, was commissioned by the California Museum to paint the state birds of all 50 states as part of their bicentennial exhibit.
Anne Worsham Richardson... artist, naturalist, one of the world's leading bird painters.