Brewton's own native artist

Published 11:08 am Monday, March 24, 2003

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features Writer
There are many talented people living within the Brewton and the surrounding area. One of those who is most prominent in the field of art is the subject of this week's profile.
Emily Finlay Wesley has been well recognized for her artwork for many years. She has worked in many different mediums but is now concentrating in watercolors and acrylics on canvas.
Wesley gets her inspiration in many different ways with nature being one of her favorites.
Her flowers and trees are glorious in their colors and represent a wide range of different varieties.
Wesley started painting when she was a young girl growing up in Brewton. She was born and raised here and realized at an early age that she had the talent for painting. She started taking art classes at about the age of 12 and has continued to paint through the years.
She graduated from T.R. Miller High School in 1953 and went to Missouri to Stephens College in Columbia and then on to the University of Alabama where she graduated with a major in art and a minor in English. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1957. She came back to Brewton after graduation and was put to work on her first painting job. Her family owned Robbins and McGowins in downtown Brewton and her father wanted her to paint murals on the walls of the department store.
Wesley married during this time and had four children. They are Follin Smith Gurdy who lives in Amish country and is vice president and CFO of Constellation Energy, a large Fortune 500 energy company in Baltimore; Leigh Faircloth, a kindergarten teacher at UMS-Wright School in Mobile; Kate Finlay Smith, vice president and CFO of SkyChef a division of Lufthansa Airlines in Frankfurt, Germany and Dallas, Texas and Russell Smith, a forester for Cedar Creek Land and Timber, Inc. in Brewton. She has six grandchildren and another is due in June.
After living in several places, Wesley came back to live in Brewton where she continued to paint although not as much as before the children came along. She did go to work at Robbins and McGowins as the buyer where she worked for some 15 years. The store was bought in 1898 by her grandfather and was in the family until it closed in 1989.
Her painting has always been very important to Wesley. Quite often she uses photographs as a guide to what she paints. She has learned to use her computer to copy her smaller paintings to make additional prints of her favorite pieces. Some of the most beautiful items that she has are a couple of reproductions of antique religious icons. She took special courses to learn the techniques of the old master painters.
The icons are indeed beautiful. They look as if they belong on the wall of some church in the old countries. The colors are so vital but yet old looking at the same time.
Wesley has certainly captured the beauty of both the icons and the other paintings that she has done. She must have a lot of knowledge of the makeup of flowers as her blossoms look so alive and natural.
She is not only a painter, but a collector of paintings as well. The walls of her home are covered with the works of others as well as her own. One painting of her that hangs on the wall is by a well known artist from Dothan who has gone on to paint President and Mrs. George W. Bush.
The paintings are not confined to the living room alone. They are everywhere and the effect is most beautiful. Those who have admired her work and been lucky enough to obtain a piece done by her are lucky indeed. Many of her paintings have been the result of someone commissioning her to paint a certain flower or even a certain color to go with a particular decorating scheme.
Wesley is not all paint. She is active in First United Methodist Church and all of its activities. She loves to travel and has done quite a bit of it. Her most recent flight took her to London to meet with her daughter, Kate, who came over from Frankfurt.

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