By Yvette C. Hammett
Anne Via Myers’ mother framed her first piece of art – a bowl of fruit Myers had colored, complete with highlighted shading on the grapes. She was three years old.
“I have been drawing my whole life,” the Riverview portrait artist said. “I don’t even know how I new to do that shading on those grapes,” she said with a laugh.
These days, between working two part time jobs, Myers is back at it, painting and drawing portraits for people across the country and some closer to home.
Many of them are memorial pieces to lost grandfathers, moms, beloved pets. All are done in amazing detail in either pastels or pencil.
Myers took the long way around to get to portrait painting.
As a young girl, she copied photos of celebrities, which her father took to his office and sold to coworkers, she recalled recently. “I would also copy Christmas card art and posters.”
By high school, she was taking special art classes and doing mixed media pieces.
After many years of special art lessons throughout her school years and learning various techniques, Myers started college at the age of 15, majoring in advertising and design.
“I was one of two kids in my county in Maryland taking college classes in high school. It focused a lot on commercial art like logo designs and ad designs.
“I had a government job and a retail job and did the art on the side just for fun,” Myers said.
Eventually, though, art again took center stage in her life when, in the 1990s, the mural craze and faux painting took off like wildfire.
“When murals became a big rage, for the next 17 years I had a mural and faux finishing businesses. I did about 2,000 rooms in different houses.”
Myers lived in an affluent community and often got calls from people who wanted her to paint theme murals in their children’s bedrooms, she said. Once she got there, she might end up painting three, four or five more murals in various rooms.
“Everybody had to have my number,” she said. “I never advertised and was booked up to a year in advance in the Washington, D.C. area and sometimes in Virginia.
“Because I had such a strong art background, I was really good at what I was doing with the faux finishes, but after 17 years it got kind of monotonous. I got burned out on it.”
Myers, who is now 52, walked away from art for a number of years until moving to Florida in 2015.
“I started painting the walls. I knew no one. I ended up painting my daughter’s room three times before I realized maybe I just wanted to paint again.”
Myers had not done any portraits in almost two decades when she decided to do one of her granddaughter. “It started going from there,” she said.
“I made some contact with other artists on Facebook, then I started watching videos and updating what I was doing. I got back into pastels. That was less than three years ago.”
That gap is not evident in her work.
Myers now gets a steady stream of customers for her portraits, even getting an order from Australia, another from Italy and one from Canada.
“I use photographs to do the work and about 70% of the time, I work with the piece upside down. You use a different part of your brain when working upside down on a painting,” she said, a trick she learned in those special art classes.
Portraits, she said, are a very exact science.
“You can have one shadow or one line off on the face and it will throw off the entire picture. If you turn the canvas upside down, you see it immediately.”
“I tell people I don’t do portraits from real life because it would be too uncomfortable for them to stand on their heads,” she said, laughing.
Myers is working on getting a website up and running for her work, but for now, she depends on Facebook and word of mouth.
She can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/pg/anneviadesigns or by calling her at 301-928-9118.
Myers charges $150 for an 8×10 portrait and $200 for an 11×14. “It depends on how long it takes,” she said, “because I only work on one for two or three hours at a time, to make sure I get the details sharp.”