Tag Archives: painting

Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2018

The Vision
The festival, billed as “America’s Great Paint-out,” brings invited artists into its heart for ten days each May, into an area rich with its own culture, into a setting vivid and rare.

The Setting
Picture Highway 98, running along the coast on the Florida panhandle.  Between Carrabelle to the east and Mexico Beach to the west, coastal fishing towns —Eastpoint, Apalachicola, Port St Joe—slow your progress just enough to take in wide expanses of tranquil bays, inlets, and nutrient rich rivers.  Views of vast marshlands or the breaking waves of the Gulf of Mexico disappear into dense pine woods for dozens of miles until you come back into the light again, rolling through yet another working village and on, along the causeways and bridges, where the road often adds a flounce of sea along its shoulders.


Joe Taylor, left, Kerry and Pollyanne, right, at the reception desk

The Facilitators
Note the people, too.  Two hundred and fifty volunteers make this major event work for the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition;  they power through eighty-two miles’ worth of venues.

Panel discussions, one-on-ones, receptions and artist demos are scattered all along this stretch of highway.  The artists have infinite subjects:  working shrimp boats, white-sand beaches, sailboats half afloat, shotgun homes, and shady vintage porches wait their turns.

Completed paintings flood into the Joe, the wetroom in Port St. Joe, where one of the lead volunteers and Vice President of the Coalition, Joe Taylor, explained that, just as Apalachicola is known as “Apalach,” Port St. Joe is called the “Joe” by locals.  The refurbished storefront also known as the “Joe” is new home to the event, a labor of love for Council president Susan Bassett, who negotiated the lease with an offer to purchase option.

The Coalition’s mission is the advancement of culture through art enrichment and community involvement.  Invited artists are charged with sharing knowledge, answering questions, and inspiring conversations.

The Judging
Panel discussions were led by Lori Putnam, who was also tasked with judging.  Her presentation on the subject began by urging artists to consider “going pro,” and allowing more new artists to compete in open class, citing the difficulties she encounters in the process of recognizing and awarding newer talent.

Putnam’s open class selections are based on strong patterns of light and dark—and the use of warms and cools for both—as well as design and drawing skill, hard and soft edges, mood, and details that are not overdone.  “Tight,” she said, “but not tiring.”

Her professional class selections are based on more stringent criteria, such as how a painting leads the eye through itself.  She likes to see artists who break the rules, but with subtlety and strength in their compositions, and she urges abstraction first.  “Tell a lie,” she said, “and make it work, but no corny stuff.”  Painters in the audience were encouraged to “bother” the invited and the “Florida’s Finest” ambassador artists wherever they found them and, for growth, to watch them paint.


Tony Robinson with a few of his paintings

A Sampling of the Artists
One of the panel discussions Lori Putnam led included Tony Robinson, Debra Huse, Mark Fehlman, and Nancie King Mertz, on the art of storytelling through plein air painting.  Putnam drew the artists out through a series of questions, getting their backgrounds, painting preferences, and humorous events from each.

Tony Robinson, who lives in Ireland, likes to paint alleys and bars, and is drawn to people, who often populate his paintings.  His mid-summer “Art in the Open” (www.artintheopen.org) festival, held in southeast Ireland was an effort, he said, “to find artists who did this gritty plein air thing.”  His painting advice includes “going for the particular,” and he urges newcomers to find perspective simply, by using overlapping shapes.

Debra Huse, an Indianapolis native, grew up drawing at the Indy 500.  She now lives in California and works out of a studio in a boatyard.  She loves boats and their histories, and was moved by Alabama shrimpers who spent an hour talking with her during the Forgotten Coast event.

Mark Fehlman always wanted to be an architect, and learned to draw in a way that allowed clients to trust him, thus moving his design forward.  Now a full-time California artist, he said he’d be fulfilled just painting the houses of Apalachicola, that he tries to find beauty or a message in everything he looks at, and aims to “present them as elegant.”

Nancie King Mertz, of Chicago, took an architecture class in college, and she said that she’s fascinated by light and shadow in structures, especially bridges.  “The rustier, the better,” she said.  In response to Putnam’s final question, asking artists how they felt about the concept of artists as historians, she agreed.  “We are historians in some respects,” she said, noting disappearing landmark structures in Chicago.

Fehlman spoke on the humanity and variety of old houses on the Forgotten Coast, and referred to artists as “the chroniclers of history.”  Huse spoke of honoring the old boats before they’re gone, and the changes she’s noted in vanishing landscapes.  She feels that plein air painting adds to the community and the conversations found within it.

Robinson does not think of himself as a “recordist,” at least not consciously.  He agrees that his work has some of that effect, but believes that he doesn’t have answers about the importance of what it is that he does.

The Results
On Sunday, May 13th, the Joe was decked out.  Goblets and plates alike were colored in jewel tones—fruit, fish, and pastries reflecting the rich and abundant paintings.

Joe Taylor, adjusting a microphone for one of the final presenters, made time to tell me:  “Encourage people to come.”

Go to www.forgottencoastenpleinair.com and click on “Art” to view the work.


My blog has been used most often to celebrate the art of dozens of people since I started writing it, or to offer free plans for art supplies.  This time I’m showing my own recent work.  Please feel free to comment!

Oil paintings (and a silk scarf) completed by end of summer, 2016


Silk seascape scarf printed from image of “Northwest Front,” $40 including tax.

Paintings are not shown actual size;  please note a title and find its sizing, location, and price (with or without its frame) in the list below.


Bouquet of Locusts


Running down to the River


Lake Papakeechie from the Cloud


Flood Tide



Blue Squall


Spring Cleaning @ Hill House


Above the Frog Pond @ TC Steele


Wild Weather


Fish House, Point House Trail


Neap Tide one of two studies


Neap Tide one of two studies


View of Useppa


Cold Spell, Fog off Captiva


Ebb Tide


Dry Wash Stream


Cold Front


Autumn Winery

All paintings were started en plein air, and finished in studio.  Pricing is pre-professional, ranging from seventy-five cents per square inch for small paintings to 50 cents per sq. in. for ex-large.

All frames are at my cost (using discounts);  please feel free to decline the frame, and to find one that suits you and your home better!

Land and Seascapes
Above the Frog Pond, TC Steele, Brown County, IN, oil on canvas, 12″ x 12,” framed:  $199.41;  unframed:  $115.56.  Tax included.

Blue Squall, Crystal Beach, TX, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14,” framed:  $211.22;  unframed, $123.59.  Tax included.

Bouquet of Locusts, oil on canvas, Owen County, IN, 28.5″ x 26.5,” framed:  $990.58;  unframed, $762.70.  Tax included.

Fish House, Point House Tr., Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 20″ x 24,” framed:  $552.12;  unframed, $308.16.  Tax included.

Flood Tide, Port Aransas, TX (Mustang Island), oil on canvas, 11″ x 14,” framed:  $205.11;  unframed, $123.59.  Tax included.

Spring Cleaning @ the Hill House, Owen County, IN, oil on canvas, 24″ x 24,” framed:  $477.11;  unframed, $369.79.  Tax included.

Running down to the River Bottom, oil on canvas, Owen County, IN, 36″ x 44,” framed:  $990.58;  unframed, $762.70.  Tax included.

Lake Papakeechie from the Cloud, Kosciusko County, IN, oil on canvas, 20″ x 20,” framed: $427.71;  unframed:  286.76.  Tax included.

Mustang Island Cold Front, Port Aransas, TX, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20,” framed:  $264.41;  unframed:  $229.41.  Tax included.

Ebb Tide, Port Aransas, TX, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14,” framed:  $205.11;  unframed:  $123.59.  Tax included.

Autumn Winery, Owen County, IN, oil on canvas, 24″ x 24,” framed:  $477.11;  unframed:  $369.79.  Tax included.

Dry Wash Stream, Owen County, IN, oil on canvas, 10″ x 12,” framed:  $162.12;  unframed:  $96.30.  Tax included.

Wild Weather, Escondido Lane, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 20″ x 24,” framed:  $544.07;  unframed:  $308.16.  Tax included.

Cold Spell, Fog off Captiva, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 15″ x 30,” framed/unframed:  $322.61.  Tax included.

View of Useppa, End of Sol Vista Lane, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 20″ x 16,” framed/unframed:  $229.41.  Tax included.

Neap Tide 1 & Neap Tide 2, Port Aransas, TX, oil on panel, 8″ x 10,” framed:  $82.20;  unframed:  $64.20.  Tax included.

All paintings will be given a week’s trial in your home.  No reproductions, please;  I retain my “reproductive rights.”  🙂  

Each oil painting is original work by Laura Lynn leffers.

Email Lauralynnleffers@gmail.com



































Gladiola Bob and the Bloomingfoods Farmers’ Market

Gladiola Bob & Bloomingfoods Farmers' Market

Gladiola Bob and the Bloomingfoods Farmers’ Market

Last week, Bloomingfoods East, in Bloomington, Indiana, accepted—and hung—this painting.  I’d struggled to “get it right” for many years, and I was thrilled that the manager, Tom Zeta, and several employees received it with a gracious delight.

Why it all happened is a story that takes a bit more telling, but it started with the realization that a grocery store—which is what Bloomingfoods is, after all—is generous to its competition, allowing a farmers’ market to set up out front in its parking lot every single Wednesday of the long market season—for 34 years.

The painting features sketches of some of the farmers who offer their home-grown and/or homemade wares to the public at the Wednesday Market:  Left to right, Bob Wise (Wise Acres);  Jeff Padgett (Padgett Farm);  Chester Lehman (Olde Lane Apple Orchard);  and Marcia Veldman (Meadowlark Farm).

Six years and change have passed since I started this oil painting;  finding time to work on it and trying to capture its early morning spirit (and its tiny, dime-sized faces) proved daunting.  I worked from photos I took a year before Bob Wise—known as “Gladiola Bob”—died, and remembered his kind spirit each time I worked on it.

Now in its 34th year, according to Market Master Don Dunkerley and his partner, Jean Ellis, of Mountain Greenhouse in Bloomfield, Indiana, the Wednesday Market remains independent.  It’s a non-profit, co-operative venture, unconnected to the city’s Parks & Rec farmers’ markets. Dunkerley has been bringing his fresh produce and plants to this market since it began, and is grateful to Bloomingfoods for their support of local farmers.  “They’re so co-operative,” he said, “they help to keep a space open for us.”


large market bag

I was once a vendor at this market.  I’m a writer, with a few novels out under my pen name, Laura Lynn Leffers (.com), but I’d had a bit of trouble with my eyes, and started sewing market bags—focusing on a seam—until I had too many bags to foist on friends and family.  While I awaited a diagnosis (it turned out to be  blepharitis, a simple tear duct problem), this is the market that took me in, allowed me space, and gave me a positive outlet.

small market bag

small market bag

Eventually, Marcia Veldman, who sells produce and flowers at the Wednesday Market but is also the Bloomington Parks and Recreation co-ordinator for the big Saturday Market at City Hall, suggested that I apply to the Saturday Market’s monthly “A Fair of the Arts.”  I did, and enjoyed being an officially “artsy” market bag vendor for a time, while I worked through my vision problem.

It didn’t keep me away from the Bloomingfoods East Wednesday Market, though.  It’s accessible.  No queuing up, and waiting for the McCormick’s corn.  Jeff remembers the names of every single person he’s ever met (I’m sure of it).  There’s a cheerful, low-key, hard working midwest air about it.  Plus, you can finish your grocery shopping at Bloomingfoods.

Chester Lehman defines the 34-year collaboration between the health food store and the farm stands as “Mutually beneficial.”  Marcia Veldman explains it by saying, “Part of their mission is to support local farmers.”

Comanche brief bag

Comanche brief bag

I was grateful to be a vendor at the Wednesday Market.  And that explains the painting.

Was Writing… Now Painting

Art Works/New Chapter Introduction

Last year, in October of 2013, on Crystal Beach, Texas, I set up on the beach to begin a new chapter.  God knows, it was needed. crystal beach set-up

Along came a couple in a golf cart.  They were on their honeymoon, and wanted to buy the painting.

Back in Indiana, I finished it, named it “Gulf Squall,” and shipped it to them.

Here it is, oil on canvas….

crystal beach, cropped


It’s no surprise to anybody who knows me, but I’ve wanted to be a painter since I was a girl, and scared up dribs and drabs of time every year or two, to start a painting.  Some were finished and hang on my walls–most are of my sons as babies.

So, here’s a new section of the blog, and my introductory chapter:  Eight painting starts at Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, Feb., 2014, pictured below;  two of them finished and six yet to go.  My best hope for a good finished painting is the big “Northwest Front,” I think.

But first, there’s another promised painting to finalize and deliver.  …And another painting start done for last weekend’s Owen County Studio Tour.

Is that too many unfinished paintings?  I have plenty more to finish–the results of those dribs and drabs of time, and all rooted in the past.  Yes, I have a full novel–chapters full of unfinished paintings!

But art works.  Right?

Era's pelican, cropped

“Era’s Pelican,” postcard size

northwest front, cropped

“Northwest Front”

turquoise mud, cropped

“Turquoise Mud,” for now

beach day, cropped

“Beach Day”

small craft advisory, cropped

“Small Craft Advisory”

personal space, cropped

“Personal Space,” bad start

FMB pier, cropped

“FMB Pier”

offshore fog bank, cropped

“Offshore Fog Bank”

FMB LLL by Carol

Photo by Carol Spencer



IPAPA Visits Owen County, Indiana, May 3

Owen County Art Guild Studio Tour to Include Indiana Plein Air Painters Association (IPAPA) Members

The second annual Owen County self-guided studio tour will offer an opportunity for the public to see the work of gifted local—as well as statewide—professional artists on Saturday, May 3rd, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Members of the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association have been invited to participate in a special en plein air event as a part of the studio tour.  Painting and exhibiting at Hill House Arts Retreat, DSCN0489IPAPA members include Vivian Gladden, Katrina West, and Sharon Teal, all of Indianapolis, and Daryl Urig, of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The artists will set up their easels in the open air to paint and answer questions from the public and, on the day of the tour, their work will be available for sale in the Hill House studio.  Light refreshments will be served to tour participants.

Local Owen County artists whose studios will open to the public include guild members Ellen Cramer, John McMullen, Leslie Nieves, Ruth Hayes, Naomi Dickey, and James Brown.

Leanna Arnold, Andersen's Fall- A Real Fairytale

Leanna Arnold, Andersen’s Fall- A Real Fairytale

At Hill House Retreat, Leanna Arnold, an Owen County conceptual realist/abstract artist, and Laura Bybee, the Hill House hostess, will paint en plein air with the IPAPA guest artists.

Owen County Studio Tour tickets will be sold at the Owen County Art Guild, 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, at a cost of $5 per person (no tickets are needed for children under 6) to benefit Owen County arts programming, and will include a map and directions to participating local artists’ studios, including Hill House Arts Retreat.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.

Vivian Gladden, Fall Creek

Vivian Gladden, Fall Creek

Vivian Gladden was featured in the Spencer Evening World last spring and summer, painting with another IPAPA group on a farm near Porter Ridge.  She is a regular exhibitor at the State Fair, and has exhibited most recently in Indianapolis, at the City Gallery and at the Harrison Center for the Arts.  Three of her paintings are included in IPAPA’s recently published “Painting Indiana III:  Heritage of Place.”  Examples of her work can be seen, too, at http://www.viviangladden.com.

Daryl Urig

Daryl Urig

Daryl Urig exhibits in numerous galleries across the country including Ft. Wayne, Hilton Head, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Utah, and is noted for his workshops.  His schedule for 2014 includes locations up and down the East Coast, in Cincinnati, a weekend retreat in Metamora, Indiana, as well as a two-week course in Terni, north of Rome, Italy, in the region of Umbria.  Daryl’s approach is both academic—due to his university experience—as well as focused on the individual, making visual self-expression accessible to everyone.  His books, Plein Air Painting for Everyone and Painting Knife Explained, are available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Plein_Air.

Book:  Painting Knife Explained

Book: Painting Knife Explained

He is also a proponent of using walnut oil and natural paints made from vegetable oils;  his work, blog, and schedule can be seen on his website, http://www.darylurig.com.

Katrina West, The Dance of the Trees

Katrina West, The Dance of the Trees

Katrina West works in acrylic, pastel, watercolor, and oils.  She specializes in plein air and portrait painting, and exhibited most recently at City Gallery, in Indianapolis.  When she was a young student at the Herron School of Art her style was abstract but, she said, “I have returned to my roots, recreating the effects of light on the natural form.”  She is passionate about catching the light in her work, examples of which can be seen at multiple online sites including http://www.katrinawestartist.com.

Sharon Teal, View from a Rose Garden

Sharon Teal, View from a Rose Garden

Sharon Teal specializes in landscapes and portraits. She has exhibited in numerous juried shows in and around the Indianapolis area. She takes a contemporary approach to plein air painting, utilizing a variety of paint application methods. She can be reached by email at steal@indy.rr.com.

IPAPA is a statewide organization of plein air painters dedicated to the appreciation of Indiana landscape painting;  information is available online at http://www.inpainters.org.  Hill House Arts Retreat, a furnished residence designed to serve the arts, is online at http://www.hillhouseretreat.com.


Art Works for Lisa Shelton

Lisa SheltonLisa Shelton’s self-portrait, All Dressed Up, is her first attempt at portraiture.  The canvas version and the real Lisa are shown here on a cold November day, outside the Owen County Art Guild.  Although she’s been an artist all her life, Lisa began painting only a year ago and All Dressed Up was done recently, eight months after she took up painting.

An oil on canvas, Lisa painted it using a “selfie,” a term used to describe a photo taken of oneself using a smart phone.  “The day I took the picture,” she said, “I’d been cleaning my house and had found things I’d forgotten I had.  I started putting them on—dressing up, which I love to do—and taking pictures of myself.  I used the selfie to find out if I could paint a portrait.  My goal is to paint a portrait of my late grandmother for my dad, as a gift.”

When Lisa, a pre-school teacher, joined the art guild, and then the Partners in Painting class a year ago, her artistic interests already included playing the cello, creative writing, sculpture, sewing, knitting, and photography.  As a ten-year-old, she remembers picking up a Polaroid Instamatic and taking her first picture, in which, according to her Great-Uncle Gerald, she’d cut the heads off the people.  Nevertheless, for Lisa, it had been the most exciting thing she’d ever done and, she said, “As a teenager, I got my hands on a camera that used real film!

“I love photography so much because I want to shareWailing Tree the beauty of the world with people who think they don’t have time to look, to see it.  I’m a photographic opportunist—I stop and capture anything that makes me go ‘Oooh!’”  The subject of Wailing Tree, a black & white, 8 x 10 photo, grabbed her attention in that way:  the tree looked as if it were in agony, mourning in a graveyard, in the fall of 2012.

“Art, for me, is emotive,” Lisa added, “it’s not aboutBroken perfect technique.  If a piece of art connects emotionally to anybody, it has fulfilled its purpose.  Broken, another of my oils, was my response to somebody—somebody I care deeply about—whose heart had been broken.  And I had the opportunity to see this piece of art connect with another soul.  To witness that moment—when my work touches somebody—is amazing.  It is an honor.”

Wearable ArtLisa also creates tie-dyed clothing, what she refers to as “wearable art.”  She loves the medium because, she said, “It’s always a surprise!  You bind it, dye it, and you have to wait twenty-four hours to see it.  It’s like Christmas every time I wash out a new item and see it for the first time.

“Something I love about being a pre-school teacher,” she added, “is that I am immersed in art every day.  I also get to share the love of art with the children in my class.  We paint, sculpt with play dough, write stories—it is a wonderland for the creative.  I had the title of the messiest teacher they had ever met.  Then, later, I got the phrase “you can paint with anything” attached to me through one of our in-services.  One of the things that drives me crazy is that, when you walk down a hallway at a school or preschool, and all of the art on display looks just like the one next to it, you know those kids were not allowed to express themselves but, instead, told how to do it right!

“Art is an extension of who I am.  I use more than one medium to express myself because, if you feel blessed with a creative spirit, why would you ever want to limit yourself?  My question to you is, ‘Why not?’”

Lisa Shelton’s artwork is a part of the holiday show at the Owen County Art Guild;  the guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN.  Her artwork, as well as those of all the artists featured in this series, can be seen in color online at http://www.lauraleffers.wordpress.com.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877;  Lisa can be reached by e-mail at:  always2dye4@yahoo.com.

Art Works for Robyn Brown

Robyn Brown & her wallFor Robyn Brown, applying her artistic talent to daily life is as simple—and as complex—as building a stone wall.  She’s shown here with just such a wall, which she built recently.  “There’s a creative aspect to everything,” she said.

She should know.  Robyn has designed at least a dozen homes on graph paper and, together with her husband, Chris, carried the design process through to completion for most of those homes.  The two make a team that handles nearly every aspect of construction.  For the stone wall, Robyn said, “We brought four or five loads of stone, hand-picked from Hoadley Quarries, and Chris tumbled the rock, built the scaffolding, mixed the mortar, and hauled it all while I laid the mortar bed and set the stones.”

Robyn is self-taught in nearly everything she does—with the exception of one drawing class and, beginning a year ago, the Partners in Painting class at the Owen County Art Guild.  Most often, she finds her own answers intuitively or at the public library, building an artistic life from a series of thoughtful, self-reliant solutions to questions as diverse as home schooling her children to laying that mortar bed.  Her resourceful nature, in fact, reflects the pioneer spirit of her forebears, the historic Spring Mill State Park Hamer family.

As a child, she learned to love art by watching her older sisters, who exceled in painting.  For Robyn, it was ceramics that caught her interest first, and painting later.  Then, for decades, crafts of all sorts, projects with her children, and building construction kept her easel idle.  Last year, when she began painting again, her experiences in real life paid dividends;  her skills transferred easily from “cutting in” the color of a home’s walls to refining her brush strokes on canvasses.

Her acrylic on canvas, Frog Pond, was created by combiningFrog Pond 2 photos of lily pads, fish, and a frog, for use as subjects.  “I love doing the preliminary backgrounds first,” she said, “because it’s fun and freeing to ease into the details of the painting.  If it doesn’t work, to me, it’s like a wall with an archway that’s too small, or a stone set in place wrong.  You just re-do it.  You need to step back and look at a painting, just as you need to step back and look at a wall.”

DSCN2283The Wave is another example of her acrylic on canvas works.  It was inspired by a double-page photograph by David Miller, in a book titled Oceans.  “I loved it, and I had to own it—it was the moodiest wave I’d ever seen,” she said.  “A friend tried to contact the photographer to purchase a copy of the photograph for my birthday, but she never got a response.  So, I had to buy the book.  I thought it was so perfect!  I didn’t add anything of myself, except my name, when I painted it.  It’s as close as I could come to an artistic representation of the original, and the largest painting I’ve ever done—two feet by four feet—so it was daring, but not difficult.”

Her work on an earlier painting with a fog element, and on Frog Pond, had taught Robyn the technique of using a natural “sea” sponge to create effects, and it helped to build foam on The Wave.  However, when she tried the natural sponge on the walls of the home she and Chris are currently constructing, she was not impressed by its effect.  So, she stepped back, and started over.  Using a synthetic tiling sponge instead, watering down the paint, wringing out the sponge and rubbing it on the walls, she achieved a beautiful muted, old-world effect.

“Art, in my opinion,” Robyn said, “is fluent.  It runs through the fiber of who you are.”

Robyn Brown occasionally shows her artwork at the Owen County Art Guild;  the guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN.  Her paintings, as well as those of all the artists featured in this series, can be seen in color online at http://www.lauraleffers.wordpress.com.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.