Like two peas in a pod and birds of a feather, this mother and daughter paint together … celebrating Mother’s Day

May 9, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY TONYA BRAMLAGE – For countless artists their mothers were their first unofficial art teachers, whether they provided actual instructions or encouraged their creativity by example. So, what exactly is a daughter to do when her mother has received more than 30 awards, is listed as “Who’s Who in American Art” and in the “World’s Who’s Who of Women,” owned and operated galleries in both Maine and Florida, and has eight corporate murals in her career as an artist? 

The answer was easy for Gail Cleveland, who is the daughter of the late artist Wini Smart. 

“Like mother, like daughter, I became an artist. There was never any doubt about it,” she said.

Wini began painting in her early childhood and made sure that Gail would carry on the tradition. 

“My early memories of how my mother guided me to appreciate art and to develop my own innate talent is an integral part of her legacy both as a mother and an artist.” 

All the moments count. The quiet moments. The moments of sharing. The exciting moments of discovery. The moments of grandeur. Each and every moment is of equal importance according to Gail’s mom. Wini Smart was a wise woman. 

Some choose the artist’s path in spite of their mother, this was not the case for Rebecca Cleveland, Gail’s daughter. Rebecca grew up observing her own mother’s work and she was influenced in ways that she never really fathomed as a child. Rebecca was always surrounded by art in her home growing up. “My mother taught me how to be creative by being creative,” Rebecca shared. Every Tuesday for the past year, Gail has been teaching Rebecca how to develop and hone her creative skillset through an online platform. Rebecca offers, “I couldn’t ask for a better art teacher. She is my biggest supporter. Her encouragement continually inspires me to pursue my artwork.” 

Giving Rebecca pause to stop and consider for herself, whether or not it is indeed in her genes. 

“I may have inherited my Mother’s artistic ability, but I have also developed my own unique artistic sense throughout the time that we have spent together in our private sessions.” 

A fourth generation artist, Rebecca is currently most passionate about bringing her florals to life on canvas. Flowers are reminders that each moment in time brings change, evolution, and transformation. Blossoms everywhere the eye falls remind us of the beauty and power in each one. Embracing the beauty and importance of the moments it takes to bloom, the desert cactus is evidence that even though it takes an entire year to do so, all the moments that it is not blooming are necessary and not wasted. 

Wini and Gail knew first hand how memory making could impact their personal and collaborative efforts as a mother and daughter art duo.

Wini Smart, Gail’s mother, used to paint with Gail.

“Some of my best memories of being together with my mom come from the many trips we took together to paint in various countries and locations,” Gail recalled. 

This fall, Gail has plans to carry on the shared mother and daughter tradition with Rebecca. The two plan to travel together for their own painting retreat just like the ones that Gail so fondly cherishes. 

“I hope that it will be the first one of many,” she said.

 You can’t spell moments without mom. Life may be full of moments, but you only get one mom to experience them with. Gail and Rebecca offer the proof that the best teachers are the ones who show you how to use your heart, inspiring the world by living a legacy through their works of art.