November 5, 2020 | By Suzanne Norman
Studio Tours Reinvented
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In past years, the cooler months motivated friends to get together to enjoy art walks and studio tours. Local artists displayed their work and demonstrated their craft to “oohs and ahhs” from gift-buying customers.
Shoppers who prefer a personal touch for gifts will find new ways to discover artful gifts this season. Three Pinellas artists, Connie Parkinson, David Lawrence and Catherine Weaver share how they are pivoting to reinvent safe customer interactions and successful strategies to market their artworks.
Each artist offers personal meetings, abiding by all safety concerns. Read on to be inspired.
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Connie Parkinson is a North Pinellas artist who participated in studio art walks and juried art shows in previous years. She is a Lampworker, and her home studio offers a safe place to create and display her custom glass bead jewelry.
The Lampworker describes her process as, “It’s basically a glass bead maker. I actually work over an oxygen propane torch at about a 2000-degree heat. I melt glass and transform it into glass bead creations.
“I started doing this 23 years ago in March 1997. The pieces of glass from a kiln are annealed together. The molecules play nicely.”
Parkinson offers personal shopping events at her studio. “In lieu of a studio walk, I’ve got a pretty good customer base. If you want to have a personal shopping event, you can bring up to four people with you. I can do a one-on-one demonstration and a private sale.”
Her showcase contains imaginative one-of-a-kind pendants, bracelets and earrings. And, you can watch her work with a torch to create a custom piece for you.
When she’s not in her art studio, Parkinson is a scuba diver. The Gulf of Mexico, sea creatures and nature have always been part of her designs.
“I was born in Clearwater and my father was a head boat captain and deep sea fisherman,” says Parkinson. “I grew up on the water and I’ve been a water baby all my life. I’ve got that salt water in my veins.”
When asked about her creative inspiration during these times, she says, “It’s more nature inspired. I’ve spent so much time outside. I’ve worked on flower-based beads, with all the different flowers and vines. I do a Tree-of-Life design, with a big flat bead with a Tree of Life on it.”
Her work is in the Clay and Paper Gallery in downtown Dunedin and Out Of Our Hands Gallery in Dade City. During last year’s Dade City holiday walk, the gallery allowed her to set up and create glass beads in an area of the store visible to people walking by.
When families came in, she encouraged the children to create art. “Every time I saw a kid, I’d have them pick out a rod, a design and make it for them for free. I mailed out ten beads when I got home. The notes I received from the kids were heartwarming. I like to be able to touch people with my heart.”
As a member of the Professional Association of Visual Artists (PAVA), Parkinson plans to exhibit at the CoolArt 2 show, scheduled at the St. Petersburg Coliseum in February 2021.
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Fine Art Photographer
David Lawrence is another North Pinellas artist navigating today’s market from his airy home studio filled with fine photographs. His photos depict nature, travel scenes, and exotic birds and animals from his world explorations. The collection ranges from photographs to murals for homes and corporate buildings.
When asked about changes in interacting with customers these days, he says, “I’ve been doing a big push to redevelop a new website that has e-commerce through a shopping cart. And, I’ve started working on a blog in the last month.
“I’ve had more time to do things on the back burner. I thought about doing a book with nature images, so I’ve started a group working on a book project.”
As a board member of PAVA, his works are included in the new Cool Art by PAVA gift gallery in Dunedin. Customers can shop for handcrafted gifts in a smaller convenient location and support local artists.
“Members volunteer and we rotate artists. We do not take any commissions. Artists get the full sale. It’s great for artists and a good deal for the customer.”
For online presence Lawrence adds, “The big change is quicker communication on the web. In addition to local art shows, I work with designers and architects mainly for artwork, murals and corporate buildings, hospitals.
“Now with everyone using Zoom, I recently met with three designers from a large architectural firm in Seattle. This is a new way of doing things. I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go there and sit down with them. I have other clients that are looking for something custom. They can send me pictures of their living room and I can set up a quick Zoom meeting from anywhere.”
He recently captured gorgeous panoramas of the Sunshine Skyway and one called Social Distance, featuring Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard without car traffic but peopled with joggers and a bicyclist.
Lawrence breaks panoramic photos in different segments to create the images, using digital (or film) full frame panoramic cameras. Working with digital software, he refines images and high-resolution printers produce the finished photo.
Lawrence’s images are considered evidence-based design artwork. He says, “The idea of visual therapy is where images of nature have shown that people respond very well in a high-stress environment, which can be hospitals, airports, government and corporate buildings. There have been numerous studies showing that blood pressure goes down and the healing increases.”
One of his larger projects was creating 10’x 30’ outdoor murals of 100 American scenes for the American Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan (view video).
Cool Art by PAVA
1240 County Road 1, Dunedin, in Independence Square Plaza
Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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Artist / Mixed Media Artisan
Catherine Weaver, artist and artisan of hand-crafted designs, owns the Uniquely Original Art Studio in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District. She is a St. Pete native and constructs her soulful art in a building originally built in 1947 by her grandfather.
As an art instructor, she organizes Cultural Arts Painting or craft parties in the studio’s relaxing Safari Garden. Her signature style is mixed media texture design although she is a talented muralist and creates wearable art, jewelry, wall décor and stylish wreaths. The curated Afrocentric art at her studio is a myriad of colors from earth tones to bright hues, offering an imaginative array of gifts.
When asked about studio classes, she says, “I’m offering a two-hour painting party with social distancing and face coverings. The Painting Parties are available at the Art Studio or on location at a home, business or organization. It is limited to 15 people.” All materials are provided for the class. Participants may bring their own food and drink.
Weaver is also a member of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. Recently, the Alliance sponsored an initiative to film art businesses. The Curate St. Pete link is a virtual ArtWalk of studios and galleries to boost the arts community during this difficult time.
Weaver is grateful for the Alliance and its support to keep the arts alive in south Pinellas. For a video tour of her studio, visit Uniquely Original Art Studio on the Curate St. Pete page.
“I’m participating in the Second Saturday ArtWalks through virtual video. On November 14th, I will showcase my fall and winter wall décor, which can also be available as a Painting Party Arts and Crafts Project.” The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance provides a list of the galleries that are open for each Second Saturday Art Walk.
She hopes to expand the Painting Parties through partnering with nearby restaurants in the Warehouse Arts District and fundraising events with charities.
Weaver also took part in painting the multicolored Black Lives Matter mural in front of the Dr. Carter G Woodson African American Museum. The museum staff has received many compliments on this beautiful mural.
So, imagine yourself painting among kindred spirits and cool breezes at an alfresco art event. It is good for the soul during this holiday season.
Uniquely Original Art Studio
915 24th St S, St. Petersburg FL 33712