Acclaimed watercolor portrait artist, columnist Tink passes at 87

January 05, 2007
Santa Paula News

In many households in Santa Paula is a prized watercolor portrait, the fluid style reflecting not only the physical likeness of the subject but also personality and soul.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesIn many households in Santa Paula is a prized watercolor portrait, the fluid style reflecting not only the physical likeness of the subject but also personality and soul.“When I paint a face, it is done with dark and light... the soul comes in a subconscious way which I can’t explain,” said famed portrait artist Tink Strother. “People tell me that my portraits are realer than real. I painted a portrait of my grandson, who said it became so real it talked to him and frightened him!”Tink, an acclaimed artist and longtime resident of Santa Paula, passed away January 1, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. She was 87 years old.Tink had been living with her daughter, Audrey Lynn, and her son-in-law in the city she loved for several years since her health began to decline. “She had a big family there to take care of her, she was the queen of the roost,” said Tink’s son, Loy Strother of Arizona. “In the end it was cancer and old age... she went peacefully in the night.”Born October 1, 1919 in Big Horn, Wyoming, Tink was the second of five children whose father moved the family to California and later served in the state Legislature, elected on the Upton Sinclair ticket. After graduating from Compton Junior College, Tink spent two years studying commercial art at Frank Wiggins Trade School.She and Vern Strother applied for a marriage license the day before Pearl Harbor, but waited until June for their wedding.Working as a draftsman for Douglas Aircraft - a job Tink said she initially thought would be more artistic than technical - she took to illustrating the envelopes of the letters to her husband stationed overseas. The illustrations - visual mini-stories of a war bride and her deployed husband - later became the focus of a highly successful and widely publicized Santa Paula Society of the Arts exhibit.But it wasn’t until after the war ended that Tink worked as a commercial illustrator. Living in Laguna Beach, Tink showed her portfolio to a gallery owner who encouraged her to become a portrait painter.“I was overcome and said I would not know how to begin,” said Tink. But she took his advice and enrolled in Orange Coast College, where she tussled with her instructor who said that it was too difficult to create portraits in watercolor.
Tink stuck by her belief that watercolor was her perfect media for portraits and was soon proved right. “I like watercolor for its own sake, it does all kinds of things without me” and matched her own fluid style, Tink said.Her marriage over, Tink studied in Mexico, returned to the states, and taught adult art education for more than a decade, then lived in Italy for five years where she had a studio in Rome with a sculptor friend. She moved to Santa Paula to help her sister, the late Liela Glover Sciutto, care for their mother in 1976.Tink put down roots, becoming deeply involved in the Santa Paula Society of the Arts, and was known for her generous contributions of her art for varied and numerous nonprofit organizations, where a portrait by Tink always brought top dollar in auctions.Tink became an art columnist for the Santa Paula Times, and her writings were as unique as the woman herself, who deeply believed that “All people are born artists, but not born knowing how. You need to remember that your eyes are two holes through which your brain is seeing - to store information on your subconscious.”Aside from being a much honored artist and community member - among her honors was being selected a Santa Paula Woman of History in 1995 - Tink was a lover of often ribald puns and jokes that she told with much gusto, showing her flair for the humor that she loved.A creative talker as well as creative artist, her company was always a delight... sweet and sincere, Tink had a great love for her family and friends and was a staunch champion of the underdog. “She was a fiery redhead,” noted Loy.“She used to drag me around with her when she did her art classes around the world,” often using Loy as the model. “There are probably thousands of portraits of me” around the world. “She had that spooky ability to get that likeness and personality in her portraits” that made Tink’s work always a standout.Services were held January 3, 2007 in a “beautiful place overlooking the Mediterranean” Tink so loved, said Loy. Son Loy and his wife Deborah Strother, daughter Audrey Lynn and husband Angel Mozo, grandsons Nick (finance Irma) and Ramon, brother John Glover and sister Myrtle Buchanan survive Tink.Since Tink “participated in about every charitable event” that benefited from her talents, the family asks that - in lieu of flowers - memorial donations be made to the Santa Paula Society of the Arts, P.O. Box 788, Santa Paula, CA 93061, or Hospice/Home Support Group of Santa Clara Valley, 133 N. Mill St., Santa Paula, CA 93060.

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