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Discover You Artistic Side at Any Age

BY PATRICIA SCHELKUN

It seems to be inherent in our DNA to be creators of one kind or another. Whether it’s gardening, cooking, or even building a successful business or putting together a happy, comfortable home for your family, many of us have experienced the joy of creating.

It’s always amazing to me to find out how many people are enamored with artmaking. If you’re lucky enough to have great support and direction as a young person, you might have found yourself pursuing an art career from the
get-go. But through choices made early in life—by us or by circumstance—a lot of people find themselves taking a different road that leaves artistic pursuits on the back burner.

Take self-taught Naples artist Valerie Blauvelt, for example. After a long corporate career in Marketing and Strategy, she discovered she was “a late bloomer” with creative capability she never knew she possessed. “Moving to Florida gave me the inspiration and new appreciation of abstract art,” says Blauvelt, who now shares space in the Art2Amaze Studio and Gallery on Shirley Street in the Naples Art District, “I am drawn to abstract painting because I enjoy the creative process where there are no rules.”

Student at ClayMore Studios

Blauvelt is just one of over ninety artists who make their artistic home in the blossoming Naples Art District, spread throughout a largely industrial area bordered by Pine Ridge Road on the south and Airport-Pulling Road on the east. Celebrating its fifteen-year anniversary with special events through the season, the Naples Arts District is one place where you can rev up your creative juices, and view or purchase art—even venture into artmaking for yourself by taking a class with one of these accomplished artists! Here you’ll find not only painters, but sculptors, jewelry-makers, textile artists, fine art photographers, and ceramic and glass artists.

Sharing space with Blauvelt at Art2Amaze is Loretta Hamilton. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to draw. So, I grew up with dreams of attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the end, however, my practical side won out and I received my bachelor’s degree in Business from Roosevelt University and went to work in the corporate world,” says Hamilton, “I didn’t give up the dream however and eventually attended a few art classes and workshops.” Hamilton now paints stunning, highly-colored watercolor compositions.

Sometimes the circumstances of life take you in a different direction. Sara Wilson was forced to give up a nursing career after health problems of her own derailed that vocation. She then moved on to a long career as an EMS dispatcher. Eventually, she realized she needed an outlet to vent her stress and discovered clay and the pottery wheel. Thus, her passion for ceramics was born. She now creates and teaches at her wonderfully inviting studio, ClayMore Ceramics, where she also rents space with other ceramic artists who share this large facility on Shirley Street.

Taking your first creative class or workshop can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you’ve never ventured into art or tried a particular technique before. While there is a wealth of art instructional videos now available online if you’re so inclined, the value of participating in an in-person artist demonstration or working with an instructor can’t be overstated. And then of course there’s the camaraderie that comes from sharing an experience with other students who are also exploring, looking to improve, or expand their artistic skills.

The Naples Art District may be the perfect place for you to explore. It hosts many events throughout the year, including a regular schedule of Art Alive open studio events three times each month during season where you can meet and see artists at work. As part of its fifteenth-anniversary events, it is joining forces with the Naples Woman’s Club to present For the Love of Art: An Arty Party with a Purpose on Tuesday evening, April 5 at 7 p.m.

Meet Naples Art District artists, watch live art demonstrations, and participate in a silent auction and fun drawing for original artwork called “Dart the Art.” Everyone goes home with a piece of original art! There will be tempting tastings and sparkling wines. Best of all, this is a fundraiser event that will benefit high school youth interested in furthering their education in Fine Arts. What better way to encourage a young person to pursue a career in the arts!

Tickets for this event cost $100. For more information or to purchase tickets for this event, visit NaplesWomansClub.org or NaplesArtDistrict.com

Patrice Schelkun is a contemporary realist painter working in oils and on glass. She and her husband split their time between Naples and Lake George, New York. Her website is www.patriceschelkun.com.