For Anne Yates Burst, a professional artist for nearly 70 years, creativity — the New Vitamin C — has always been a passion. Burst, a long-time Winter Park resident who at a young age met creative giants the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Lilly Pulitzer, credits that early passion for the first work in a lifetime of masterpieces: a kindergarten art project.
“My kindergarten teacher talked to my parents, and she thought that I was very good for somebody my age. From that time on, I thought of myself as somebody who was good at art. This is just one of my first memories. And I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”
Burst went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Art History from Florida State University, where she says she studied under the German-American Impressionist Karl Zerbe. She credits her time in Tallahassee as the springboard for a creative life, one that culminated with her paintings in galleries and private collections throughout the country.
Burst’s most recent donation, a 48 x 72 in. Impressionist painting given to the Center for Health & Wellbeing in Winter Park about two years ago, is not only a testament to her generosity, but to her continued dedication to creative pursuits. “I just had to put that painting up there. I just knew that my painting had that teal color and bright colors that babies at [former Kids’ Corner] would like to see.”
Now, at 88 years old, Burst speaks to how creativity keeps her in great physical shape. She attributes a rigorous at-home fitness regimen — painting — for positively impacting her overall health and wellbeing and supporting her longevity.
“I’ve just never sat down [while painting],” she says. “I have a seat that I can sit on, but I never sit….I mean, you are up, you are down. You’re bending over. I do have friends who work on little canvases, and they use watercolors, but they don’t move. I mean, I’m all over the place.”
And all over the place, she is. Burst and her family’s world travels often inspire her themed collections done in various techniques and mediums. Her ‘The Siena Collection’ was inspired by a month spent in Tuscany. After a three-week trip in Africa, Burst created a set of works. It included fabric tapestry, paintings, a veranda’s interior, and a tropical garden design.
Burst says she prefers large abstract paintings in vibrant hues. She sometimes mixes paint with words of humor and found objects. Accessibility to a medium —or lack thereof — serves no barrier for creating beauty. It’s a lesson Burst shares with anyone seeking to create their own works of art and pursue creativity at any age.
“Sometimes, I paint on wallpaper, or shower curtains,” she says. “I’ll paint on anything. One of my biggest sources is people’s trash cans. People throw things out that are just wonderful because they see nothing, but how it is. They don’t see how it could be. When you have a lot of time and you don’t have much money and you have little children, sometimes we would all be painting furniture. It’s fun.”
As a longtime member of the Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center at the Center for Health & Wellbeing, Burst looks to other ways to stay active and allow herself to feel inspired — gardening and walking. Research has shown the positive effect of nature and guided nature walks on mental health. In fact, spending time in nature strengthens Burst’s emotional health and creativity.
“I think staying active is one of the most important things you can do for your health… I garden a lot…my daughter tells me not to. She says, mom, don’t do that at my age, but I love to garden. I walk a lot…At my age, nothing comes easily you know. I can do it, but it’s not as easy as it used to be. The whole key is to keep on doing it.”
Burst reminisces about the day she and her husband, Tom, made their way from Indiana to sunny Winter Park, Florida. It was their 10-year anniversary — June 11, 1965. After that, she opened a Park Avenue interior design studio, Indies Landing. She managed it as the principal designer for 18 years, working alongside her two daughters. Throughout the years, Burst often wrote about and photographed antiques, home interiors and architecture for Florida magazines and newspapers. She, herself, was interviewed by Central Florida newspapers for her artwork and lavish, decorated Winter Park “Garden Home” exuberating a Key West look and feel.
After all, Burst was born and raised in Key West, a four-generation ‘Conch,’ on the very same bed her mother and grandmother were born on. She recalls childhood memories with fellow creative Ernest Hemingway and her uncle, Benjamin Ketchum, Hemingway’s attorney at the time.
“We used to go over with my uncle to play with the cats, and his little boys were around my age. They usually went away to school — Patrick and Gregory. His mother Miss Pauline was Ernest’s wife at the time. When our cat had kittens, my mother would drop by Ernest’s house and drop the kittens over the wall. We knew they would be taken care of. And he worked on Death in the Afternoon down there. He also wrote To Have and To Have Not down there, which he was just about finishing.”
Over the years, Burst also met other fellow creatives like Lilly Pulitzer as part of her work with Council of 101, a philanthropic organization Burst says she helped found in 1965. The organization financially supports the Orlando Museum of Art. It encourages the cultural development and education of the visual arts in Central Florida. Over the last 10 years, Burst was commissioned to create two large paintings inspired by Florida to hang in the lobby of a Park Avenue office and a mural for the elevator wall. ‘SEMINOLE’ and ‘MICCOSUKEE’ were the result. Moreover, Burst also wrote, published and designed a mystery novel of love and adventure set in Key West called, ‘The View from the Widow’s Walk.” It was picked up for a film, but later dropped in its production because of budget restraints.
At 88, there is no stopping this artiste who says she loves to explore her creativity whether that’s writing, painting or crafting. “You keep on going. There is no stopping,” she says.
“Creativity is not something you can retire from and get your pension. It’s something you do all your life. Whether it’s gardening or a painting you’re re-doing, or the new pillows you got for the living room, it’s a constant endeavor.
— Anne Yates Burst
Whether it’s gardening or a painting you’re re-doing, or the new pillows you got for the living room, it’s a constant endeavor. I think creativity gives you desire to go forward. You can change what you do based on your capabilities, but you’re still creating. If you work in an office, I think it stops at some point. But if you’re creative, it doesn’t stop until you die.”
Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin C at the Center for Health & Wellbeing
Have you heard? Creativity is the new Vitamin C. Research proves that engaging in small acts of creativity in everyday life increases our overall wellbeing, and The Center for Health & Wellbeing in Winter Park offers ways to do just that. Visit bit.ly/TheNewVitaminC to discover upcoming community education programs that serve your daily dose of Vitamin C.