The Dart: Natchez woman is perfecting her art
NATCHEZ — In a roundabout way, Anna Williamson had to go to the southern hemisphere to get to her dining room table.
When The Dart found Williamson Friday at her residence on Martin Luther King Jr. Street, she was just sitting down to paint a picture at the table, which, she said, functions as her comfortable studio space.
The painting she was working on was inspired, in part, by last week’s atypical weather, depicting a cat looking in through a window while it snowed outside.
Williamson wasn’t always a painter. She was good with crafts as a child, but her propensity for acrylic and paper projects didn’t develop until well into her adulthood.
Approximately seven years ago, she had recently been widowed, and a relative invited Williamson to go along with her on an artists tour of Peru. She threw together the money needed in two weeks and — before she had time to realize what had happened — was painting pictures of the Andes Mountains and the ruins of the great South American empires.
The experience was a little overwhelming at first.
“Everyone else would get there and pull out these big pieces of paper and knew what they were doing, and I just started crying,” she said.
The tears didn’t last forever, and at the end of each day the tour leaders would offer a critique of Williamson’s work. It got better, and when she returned to Natchez she kept at it, eventually joining the Natchez Art Association.
In 2009, Williamson returned to Peru on another artists tour.
“The first time I went, I had never been out of the country before, and I wanted to be a sightseer,” she said. “Going back was still a little scary to me, because I felt like I was still at the bottom of the totem pole as far as these artists were concerned.”
But she continued to refine her technique. Williamson likes to sketch out her paintings before wetting her paper and putting paint to it. Some paintings take weeks to complete, while others draw the kind of concentration that keeps her working late into the night.
“Sometimes you look up, and it’s just done,” she said.
Most of her work is deeply whimsical, Williamson said, inspired in part by an aunt who used to decorate the house Ravennaside with fairies. One painting used her housecat Goliath for a model, depicting a feline burglar whose attempt at opening a birdcage for a snack only resulted in freeing the bird through an open window.
But it wasn’t Goliath who inspired Friday’s painting.
“I have a feral cat — we call it Stupid Bobo Cat — who comes and looks in my window through the screen,” Williamson said.
“I started on this a couple of weeks ago when it got really cold and I got to thinking about the cats out in the cold looking in, but I put it down until it started snowing Thursday, which reminded me of (the painting). So I’m not sure which it was — did the painting bring the snow, or the snow bring the painting?”
Williamson’s paintings can be viewed at the Natchez Art Association at 118 N. Pearl St.