Persis Clayton weirs - Wildlife Painter
Before tearing down the old Canton Historical Society building (previously the Universalist Church), CHS members and friends removed the building’s contents. The historic documents were stored in the Town Office and the larger items were stored at the Fire Station.
One item that received particular care during the move was a lovely, rather large painting of an outdoor scene. It was signed “Persis Clayton Radcliff 1974.” CHS member Kathy Walker recognized the artist’s name. Persis had been a neighbor of Kathy’s when Kathy was a child, and Persis had painted her portrait! Kathy’s mother, Karen Timberlake, recognized the painting in the CHS building and said it was originally painted for the Canton chapter of the Rebekahs, a service organization and branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In the painting are a dove, beehive, lily, moon, and seven stars—all symbols of the Rebekahs.
Both the portrait of Kathy and the Rebekahs’ painting were rather unique endeavors for Persis. She was primarily an animal/wildlife painter. As a child and with no formal training, Persis began drawing horses, then dogs, cats, raccoons, birds, foxes, etc. As a young adult, she was commissioned to paint portraits of racehorses and champion show horses. By the early 1980s, she began focusing on wildlife art. Today, her original works are featured in some of the country’s most prominent museums and celebrated private collections, and have been on display as far away as Beijing, China. Persis received many awards for her works and in 1992, her submission was selected as the annual Duck Stamp by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Products containing images of her artwork have been and continue to be sold at the Bradford Exchange, Cabela’s, Wayfair, Amazon, etc.
Persis was born in Maine in 1942. She grew up spending her summers on Stave Island, Maine—a 36-acre island situated near Deer Isle, purchased by her father in 1936. In 1959, Persis’s father was hired by Jay High School and the family moved to Canton. It was in Canton that Persis met her second husband, Patrick Weirs. The couple moved from Canton in 1977, but remained in Maine. Sadly, Persis passed away May 21, 2016. She is survived by Patrick; her sister, Sally Rawcliffe; and her three children: Veronica Radcliff Poirier; Thompson Radcliff; and Sandra Weirs-Haggerty.
To see samples of Persis’s remarkable work, simply type her name in Google and you will get over 200,000 hits! Persis said her hope was, “To share through my work, my respect for wildlife and my sense of responsibility for the quality of the environment. If my paintings can pass on to others just a fraction of the pleasure and fascination I find in nature, then I have succeeded." I think you will agree that she did!
Sources: Persis Clayton Weirs - (Cabelas Website) and conversations with Patrick Weirs, Sally Rawcliffe, and others.
By Liz Rothrock