New York-trained artist Norma Albertha Winter has owned her own studio and gallery, worked as a commissioned artist, and taught countless students of all ages over the course of her career.
But for the past several years, she’s had a new role—site ambassador and artist at the Historic Spanish Point campus, where she shares her artistic skills and deep appreciation of the property while teaching painting, drawing, and sketching techniques.
Winter didn’t really know much about the Historic Spanish Point campus when she first came for a job interview in 2016 arranged by the AARP Foundation in Sarasota. But she quickly realized what a special place it was.
After being hired, Winter soon embarked on a project to paint some of the native plants on-site, putting her talents on immediate display. “I felt that I was brought here for a reason,” she says.
“THERE WAS A FEELING OF PEACE, THERE WAS A SACRED FEELING ABOUT THIS PLACE. I WAS SO EXCITED THAT I HAD BECOME AWARE OF THIS EDEN.”
– NORMA ALBERTHA WINTER
Winter grew up in Jamaica and began creating art as a child. In fact, her high school principal would sometimes pull her out of class to teach drawing to other students. After she made her way to the United States, she graduated from the American Artists School in New York, and both art and teaching have been at the center of her life ever since.
“To me, we’re all born with gifts,” she says. “And we have to seek ways to use these gifts. To me, teaching has been my dream. And so every day I try to learn more, observe more, and retain more, so I can share with others to help them better their lives. And that way I know that I’m fulfilling my purpose.”
All artwork shown courtesy of Norma Albertha Winter.
Through that initial project at the Historic Spanish Point campus, Winter created 14 five-foot-by-five-foot botanical paintings done in a form she discovered using acrylics like watercolors on canvas. When the paintings were debuted, attendees wanted to know how Winter achieved that look. Soon after she transitioned to teaching classes at the Historic Spanish Point campus, instructing students about painting, drawing, and sketching.
In her role, Winter—who is also an accomplished public speaker with several Toastmasters awards—enjoys helping her art students develop confidence and learn to truly see what’s in front of them. She watches them as they realize, for example, how varied the leaves are on all the different plants on-site once they begin examining them closely.
“We have so much material to work with here,” she says. “For the students, you have to observe, you have to see what you’re looking at, and you have to retain what you’re looking at so that you can draw in your own interpretation of what you have retained.”
She’s excited to be a part of the team at the Historic Spanish Point campus, a place with a rich past and a bright future that she greatly appreciates as she helps others explore and connect to the natural surroundings on a deeper level.
To sign up for one of Norma Albertha Winter’s art classes visit selby.org. Visit the White Cottage at the Historic Spanish Point campus to view Winter’s original artwork.