You don’t have to go very far in St. Petersburg to find a beautiful relaxing park. You can find one in most neighborhoods. That’s what I like about St. Petersburg, it’s not all concrete! The city planners have left some green around to make living bearable in this growing metropolis. Some parks are near a river and some surrounded by Tampa Bay with wonderful views of the Skyway Bridge and others right beside the ocean front. Most have walk ways or paths where people ride bicycles, walk their dog, or rollerblade. Some are small and intimate like Bay Vista Park in south St. Pete or some sprawled out like Sawgrass Lake Park a swamp conservation area with miles of board walks that go you over the river through the flora and fauna of the Florida landscape (with an occasional spotting of an alligator.) Parks are places for people to relax and enjoy wildlife, have fun or even play tennis like in Lake Vista Park in South St. Pete.
What do I do in the parks? What does art and parks have in common?
Really nothing except that I use this time spent in the parks to observe nature and make art; drawing in my sketch book, recording sounds, writing ideas and drawing the things around me. Connecting with nature and the natural surroundings of where I live are important to my well- being. The parks in St. Petersburg are one of the places I can do this. Bay Vista Park, Lake Vista Park, Boyd Hill, Demens Landing or Sawgrass Lake Park; they are my go-to places to dream, read, draw and mediate and get inspired, taking them back to my studio and intuitively translate them into new works.
I love texture, parks have lots of texture. Within parks I can find contrasting forms, textures, color, line all the design elements used for creative exploration. I’m not a plein-air painter nor do I use watercolor media mostly I draw using pencil, and or sharpies. The Florida Live Oak trees are plentiful in the parks. Their textured bark has been an inspiration for my work since 2016 when I created a drawing on Archers Paper using charcoal on a watercolor wash background. There were ( 4) 22”x30” and installed with magnets. It was part of my exhibition Mapping/Marking in 2016 at HCC Gallery 221.
At Sawgrass Park I did tree rubbings from the bark of the Live Oak tree. In this sketch I used charcoal and oil pastels. At Demens Landings Park, a short walk from downtown St. Pete, I drew the rocks and the movement of the water, at Bay Vista Park I drew the Live Oak trees and placed the drawing amongst the fallen leaves.
I found a small park recently down the road from my new studio apartment, Coffee Pot Park. This time I picked up a book and headed down there, found an empty table and read poems from Luci Shaw’s, Breath for the Bones, Art Imagination and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith.
Parks are important to neighborhoods in St. Petersburg. Hopefully city planners will continue to make space for parks and not just build concrete upon concrete. Then I can find new places to draw and mediate.