Marion Fanning is constantly reinventing herself. From business to art, she has always been open to new possibilities.
After graduating from high school in New Jersey, she moved to New York to become a model but soon became disenchanted. “I made a living but didn’t like it,” she said. “I would go on a ‘go-see’ with all these other girls, and in the interview they’d say I was not what they were looking for. That experience has been so helpful in the art world—rejection doesn’t bother me.”
Much more to her liking was the charm school business she built into 24 shops located in Sears stores. Women who enrolled were taught about hair, makeup, exercise, and etiquette, as well as how to walk and sit properly. She later started a makeup company and taught at Adelphi University’s Business School on Long Island.
But after moving to Florida, she switched gears again and worked in sales and marketing for a hotel for 16 years. She worked a lot with military groups like the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and with events such as the Gator Bowl. “I loved it,” she said. “Every day I never knew what was going to happen.”
She retired in 1994 and was living on the water in St. Augustine when her house burned down, spurring her and her husband to move to South Carolina and settle in a house on Lake Hartwell. She now has four daughters, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
She’d always loved art and focused on sculpture early on, making and selling natural wildlife art made from natural things. These included a dog made of rice and a pheasant assembled with squash and pumpkin seeds. “I used whatever I could find to make fur or feathers look natural,” she said. “It was a challenge and took a long time.”
She later switched to watercolor painting and more recently to encaustics, especially after taking a class with Dorothy Masom, known as the “Dean of Encaustics.” Fanning likes the ability to layer and to apply various techniques. She often works from her own photos or those taken by her son-in-law. “I like to paint something with a story or feeling behind it,” she said.
Marion Fanning’s artwork will be shown in the Anderson Artists Guild display case on the first floor of the Anderson Arts Center from January 14 to March 11.