You might remember me recommending Nathan Beard’s Wetland to Studio class at the Dunedin Fine Art Center (DFAC) a few months ago. While it’s impossible for me to attend every awesome art class in the Tampa Bay area, I made sure to sign up for that one. Mostly, I just thought it’d be fun to paint with Nathan Beard over the summer. It was a treat I gave myself without ever expecting to get a story out of it.
Wetland to Studio isn’t your typical art class. It’s not the type of class where the instructor starts with the basics and you never stray from the classroom.
In Wetland to Studio, you begin by grabbing your camera (or cell phone) and meeting Beard at Dunedin’s Hammock Park. Here the brackish Cedar Creek juts out from St. Joseph Sound and meanders through a forest of oaks, pines and palmettos. The 98-acre park is about as close to the DFAC as you can get. For an artist who often takes his inspiration from nature, it’s the perfect place to begin an art class.
Since 2013, Beard has focused on that special place where land meets water. The resultant drawings and paintings form Beard’s Pond’s Edge series. At the time this was written, Beard had just completed his 80th work of art in the series.
Walking through Hammock Park, Beard told us how he photographs water for his paintings and drawings. Instead of taking expansive landscape shots, he encourages us to zoom in on the smaller details, like the clumps of water lettuce floating on the water’s surface. When you pay attention to the little things, inspiration can come from anywhere.
Together we snapped photos in the park before heading into the studio to draw and paint. Among other things, Wetland to Studio teaches you how to draw inspiration from nature. It got me thinking: What are some other ways to get inspired by nature in Tampa Bay?
I scoured the internet for inspiring nature events and nature-inspired art events happening in Tampa Bay this fall. I asked local artists and photographers where they go to get inspired, and I visited Brooker Creek Preserve, where Nathan Beard is showing paintings and drawings from his Pond’s Edge series this fall. The result is a beautiful mash-up of art and nature you’d be hard pressed to find outside of Tampa Bay.
I wasn’t planning to write anything beyond a few Facebook posts on Wetland to Studio. Yet somehow I ended up with inspiration for a whole series of articles.
We can’t tell you where you’ll find inspiration next, but the events, parks and preserves mentioned in this issue are a good place to start.