She has commissioned paintings for restaurants and helps design handbags
The woman’s face, fractured and dripping rainbow-colored liquid, rests on a background that is half checkerboard and half American flag.
Pink ribbons spin from her cheeks, and her chin is swaddled by a scarf-like streak of purple. A circular symbol crowns her forehead. From her glassy eyes shine bursts of green and blue.
Lakewood Ranch High senior Rheana White is not sure what inspired this particular piece of art, nameless like all the rest of her works, but it is her favorite. It was an in-the-moment creation.
When White paints, she is free of planning, and free of stress. Her paintbrush seems to move where it wants.
She enjoys painting in her spare time, which she has less of these days as she is the captain, and a defender, for the Mustangs girls soccer team. White’s athletic style is the opposite of her artistic style. She paints in gentle strokes, but plays with fire and physicality on Lakewood Ranch’s back line. Her favorite part of her defensive duties is making tackles.
“I think being a defender coincides with my personality,” White said. “I am a protective person. I am looking out for everyone else. I do not take the ball up the field much. I do my job and pass it to my teammates.”
White has been involved in both passions since she was 4. While her soccer career started with Braden River Soccer Club, her art career started with doodles, the kinds all kids draw. White kept drawing them until she transferred her talent to canvas.
There was no sudden breakthrough, she said. She just loved to create, so she did. Once word of White’s skills got around, the community took notice. She sold a few works to individuals, commissioned a painting for Sarasota’s Cafe Barbosso in 2016 and currently creates designs for a local handbag company BSWANKY.
“I mainly paint to de-stress,” White said. “I will get a feeling, and I cannot get it out until I paint it.”
As soon as White finishes a painting, she's done with it. She does not hang her works in her room, or around the house. She keeps them in a vacant room. White hates staring at them because she does not see the beauty in them. She instead sees things she could have done differently.
She is a perfectionist, and this, of all things, is what connects her passions. Mustangs coach Delaney Riggins said White has dealt with back and knee problems throughout the season, but always participates in conditioning drills. Riggins said she has to convince White to sit out the drills if she needs a break. Otherwise, White will push through, trying to be the best player she can be. White even volunteers as an assistant coach with Braden River Soccer Club’s U13 team, to experience the game from a different perspective and pass on her knowledge to younger generations.
“She is our center back,” Riggins said. “She controls our defense. She is constantly talking to her teammate on the field, and is not afraid to ask questions.”
White, whose steady play has helped the Mustangs to an 11-2 record as of Jan. 21, even scored a goal in her final regular-season home game, an 8-0 win against Sebring High on Jan. 18, with a header in the box.
Lakewood Ranch will count on both White’s artful passes and gritty tackles as it begins postseason play.