PLACIDA — In Maurice Sendak’s famed children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are,” Max, the main character, cried, “And now, let the wild rumpus start!”
North Port resident and painter Susan Gardner might have taken that to heart — Sendak’s book inspired her at age 5 to become an artist. It also may have inspired her mother to build a studio for her.
“My style is whimsical, lighthearted and colorful,” she said. “(It) reflects on old Florida with the characters, colors and beauty.”
Gardner paints on surfaces ranging from canvas to concrete. People who visit John Hatch’s gallery on the grounds of the Fishery restaurant in Placida walk right over her alligator painted on the walkway as they make their way inside.
“Sometimes I may paint five a day,” Gardner said. “There are some days where I don’t paint at all. It all comes from the heart.”
Gardner photographs her subjects or paints on scene. Her work sells for $100 to $800.
“This area is conducive to painting,” she said. “The environment is natural and beautiful. It’s rustic and laid-back. You can see the osprey and eagles.”
Graduating from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Gardner, who specializes in watercolor and acrylics, is an active five-year participant at the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay in Englewood.
“I’ve worked on being looser and less structured with my work,” she said. “It’s progressed and has had a natural evolution. I’m finessing it much better.”
She’s kept busy painting for more than 35 years, and produced at least 75 works so far this year.
Gardner, who lived in the area for more than 30 years, is familiar with the local art scene. Her work has been displayed in the Hatch Gallery for more than 20 years.
She also sells her work at the Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Market.
“(The market) allows amateurs and professionals to communicate, meet each other and work together,” she said. “We’re getting a reputation where people tend to seek more local items. The ambience is quiet and serene. The pieces at the market are original local pieces. The market is attractive, and it’s a nice place to be.”
You can view her work at the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay, the Hatch Gallery, or the Melange Gallery in Venice. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the Placida Seafood Festival. There will be a parking fee requested to support Lemon Bay High School’s Project Graduation. On nonfestival days, parking at the market is free. The market is held almost every other Saturday through April on the grounds of the Fishery restaurant, 13000 Fishery Road, Placida. For market information, call 941-697-2451.