By B.C. Manion
Jeanne Forsythe loves to capture images of Florida.
The Wesley Chapel woman uses photography and painting to preserve the natural beauty that she sees.
She is awestruck by the beauty that surrounds her in her community.
“At one time, it was typical for me to head to the coast for my nature shots or photo studies to bring back to my studio for reference for paintings,” she said.
However, she added, “it didn’t take long after moving here to see I wouldn’t have to go far to find inspiration for my paintings and photography. Seagulls fly overhead with the sunlight shining through their feathers, blue herons stroll along the conservation ponds and sandhill cranes come up to the yard after a rain pecking the ground for food. Lizards and palm trees are in abundance and both vary in species and color. Wesley Chapel is beautiful.”
One piece, which she calls Mossy Oak Morning, is a photograph she took of morning sunlight streaming through Spanish moss. She captured that image in a field near Wiregrass Ranch High.
Her Mossy Oak Morning, Colorful Beatles and Beach Chairs will be among the works on display at the North Tampa Arts League’s upcoming show, Artists Unleashed.
The artists, including Forsythe, will be at a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 3 at the Carrollwood Cultural Arts Center, 4537 Lowell Road in Carrollwood.
The show features traditional and contemporary works, including pieces created in a multitude of mediums like sculpture, oil, acrylic, pastels, mixed media, metal, digital design and photography.
The event is free and open to the public.
Forsythe said the show’s title encouraged her to push the boundaries of her normal work.
In a photo she calls Purple Waters, Forsythe has taken sand and shells and incorporated them into the print she had made on canvas.
“I wanted someone who loves the beach as much as I do to be able to take a part of it home with them,” Forsythe explained.
Forsythe joined North Tampa Arts League in 2008 and enjoys the inspiration she derives from the camaraderie of her fellow artists.
“It’s so much more difficult to navigate through the ins and outs of the art business on your own,” she said.
Forsythe was drawing Disney characters when she was 12 and hoped one day she would become an animator.
She was also a big fan of How to Draw books and used them to help her learn to draw animals and faces. Her parents got her one for Disney characters.
“I was totally hooked on that,” she said. “Mickey and Donald were my favorites.”
She also enjoyed doing paint by numbers, which she said was also a great way to learn about creating effects through the placement of color. For instance, when people think of trees, they typically see it as browns and greens. By doing paint by numbers, she learned that creating the desired effect required using brown, green, blue-green, tan and even purple, she said.
“It’s a good learning tool,” Forsythe said.
At 15, she picked up photography and got her first camera.
Initially, she didn’t think she was very good, but then she found out she needed contacts, she said.
When she went to college, she studied photography and art.
“I was actually going to major in art when my dad said, ‘Well, be prepared to starve.’
“I switched my major, for practical reasons, to graphic design,” she said.
Forsythe went on to have a 30-year career, beginning as a graphic artist and ending up as the art director for the Ingram Book Company in La Vergne, Tenn.
She uses what she knows about composition, the use of bold colors and the shapes of things that she gleaned from her experience in graphic arts to help her in her creative quests.
She draws inspiration from such artists such as Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh and John Singer Sargent, as well as the artists she’s met through the North Tampa Arts League.
Now, at age 51, she is devoting much of her energy to pursuing a career as an artist. She paints and takes photographs, primarily of nature. She is available, though, to do custom work for clients.
She also works part-time as a house cleaner and helping people declutter their spaces.
She and her husband, Jay, have two sons, Alex, 17, and Joshua, 14.
Forsythe said she feels certain she was meant to preserve images through her photography and paintings.
“Years ago, when I went to Disney World with my sister, my dad said, ‘Don’t take your camera. Enjoy the time that you’re there instead of worrying about the picture you’re going to get or looking through your camera at everything.’ … That entire day I thought oh, gosh, I wish I had my camera.
“If something is that beautiful, it’s a moment in time; some things you can go back and see again, and some things you just can’t. That wave is only going to be cresting that way, with the light hitting it that way, on that day at that time. It’s a way to stop time.”
The North Tampa Arts League’s show Artists Unleashed is presented by the Carrollwood Cultural Center in Carrollwood, 4537 Lowell Road.
The show is from April 29 through June 3. Jeanne Forsythe and other members of the art league will be there from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 3. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit northtampaarts.com.
For more information about Forsythe’s work, visit Jeanne-forsythe.fineartamerica.com and Yessy.com/forsythedesign.
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