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Anne ‘Woody’ Christian Tedeschi ’56


By your 80s, there’s been time for several lives. I’ve had at least five, but my greatest love has always been painting.

With the encouragement of my mother, Martha Wood Christian ’31, I painted anything and everywhere. My early ambition had been to become a commercial artist—my father, Frank Christian ’31, took me to his ad agency on the occasional Saturday. Seeing artists at their tables with huge jars of brushes and pens was the height of glamour to me!

But it was not to be. My parents insisted on a good liberal arts education first. At that time, Swarthmore had no practical art classes, but I loved it anyway. I took as many fine arts courses as possible and graduated as an English major. It taught me to value the rich life of the mind and to write.

As a consequence, editorial work has been one of my mini-careers: I worked as an editorial assistant and, much later, translated some dozen volumes from the Italian with my husband, John, a collaboration that has enriched our 62 years of marriage. I also studied bookbinding, working in book repair and conservation, before starting another mini-career in library materials preservation.

While our three children were young, I filled our lives with handmade things: I painted a Monopoly board on the basement concrete floor so the children could be the pieces; I made elaborate Halloween costumes; I painted Mary Poppins, Robin Hood, and Tolkien’s Helm’s Deep on walls. In the 1960s, we bought a farm in far-western Wisconsin, where still another life began for me: gardening.

Raising much of our food, today we have been an organic farm for 50 years. This is hand work on a big scale. Our grandchildren lovingly call it “the prison farm.”

My husband and I retired in 1996; for the first time, I had continuous time to devote to painting. Our region, an unglaciated part of the state, is extraordinarily beautiful, with deep valleys, heavy woods, and hordes of animals and birds—lots of inspiration during my serious watercolor lessons.

I was asked to join a local cooperative art gallery, became a member of the Wisconsin Regional Art Association, and earned a few awards at their statewide shows. I taught children watercolor, exhibited their work, and became an annual staple at a major fine arts festival. This was great fulfillment, becoming a “real” artist!

I am old—there is no other word for it—but I still paint, knit, sew, garden, and repair books. My husband and I are working on our 11th translation, too, out here where the creek floods, clouds race west to east, trees sigh in the wind, and spring mud renews all good things. If there’s a heaven on Earth, this is it: here, where my hands are always busy.


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