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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428



Senior Project DECEMBER 2015

In the late 1800s Ft. Ogden, Florida was a major hub near the county seat of Tater Hill Bluff. It was a thriving community; the new doctor had his office down river from a bustling sawmill that produced railroad ties. From 1925 the Tampa Southern Railroad traveled down the Ft. Ogden extension to deliver goods and passengers until, in the mid- 1970s, the train trestles caught on fire and the railroad was never used again. This area along the Peace River became a popular camping, fishing and swimming site for the local population. I grew up in this landscape, and the Peace River and its tributaries are the central inspiration for my Senior Project.

The love for nature comes easily to me since I was exposed to it as a young curious child. I have great respect and a deep connection with the past and present of this majestic river and am personally committed to supporting the conservation of the Peace River. After nearly 100 years of the river’s occupation and exploitation the passageways were rerouted and the natural environment quickly returned its former beauty. As an artist my interest has always gravitated to the beauty of nature. When I was a young person the Peace River was the first place I chose to paint outdoors after a positive experience during a lesson with Robert Butler, one of the original Highwaymen who painted the Florida landscape. As an adult I was involved in developing the DeSoto County Arts and Humanities Council which holds the annual “Art of the River Competition” to celebrate the beauty of the Peace River. The intention of the work in this exhibition is to invite you to see this beauty and encourage you to experience the real thing, learn more about your environment, and understand the importance of environmental conservation. 

The process for this series of paintings began with going out on the river to take photographs of the landscape. Back in the studio I made ink sketches on paper, and then rough drafts on Masonite boards using modeling paste mixed with acrylic paint. The final works were developed from these initial studies and include various levels of mixed media relief and sculptural elements. The large-scale relief painting of Arwin Lake was created with wire, recycled homework and paper clay on wood panels with acrylic and metallic paints and multiple layers of crackle medium. Six other scenes are rendered on wood panels that are painted with modeling paste and acrylics to create textured surfaces. Two large black and white ink sketches of the old bridge and train trestles of the past are also rendered in mixed media with ink, pencil and white charcoal. The total of seven paintings and ten black and white sketches complete the series representing the age of seventeen when I first started painting on the river.