Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ditch the Beach and Grab a Brush in Islamorada

A lion fish in watercolor. Photo courtesy of artist Michelle Nicole Lowe.

Inclement weather in the Sunshine State couldn’t keep us from enjoying ourselves in Islamorada.

In winter, Floridians get more than snow birds. Cold fronts from the jet stream sometimes assault our sunny days with chilly, squally weather, interrupting what water babies love to do -- in our case it was a day of snorkeling and sailing. But no matter, in the Florida Keys, you can still enjoy the area's marine life even if you're like a fish out of water.

I was traveling with a group of bloggers and although I really hankered to don my snorkel gear and to end the day with a sunset sail, I’m glad we spent the afternoon indoors at Michelle Nicole Lowe’s art gallery. Located in a small, non-descript strip mall on the overseas highway at mile marker 81, Lowe’s gallery bursts with bright, colorful creatures of the sea that come to life on canvas.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
Lowe also paints birds who call the Keys ecosystem home.

Lowe, who grew up in South Florida, has been painting since childhood but worked for a spell in corporate IT after earning a degree in finance. She followed her passion for art, furthered her studies in Italy and returned home, where she’s painting vibrant watercolors with striking realistic detail.

The love of the land’s natural splendor runs in her bloodlines. Lowe’s family traces some of its roots back several generations in the Keys and the Bahamas. She gathers inspiration for her watercolors by exploring the land above and under the water. Currently, Lowe is also working on a series of botanical watercolors.

During our visit, the friendly artist taught us how to paint a turtle swimming up to the water’s surface. We spent about three hours working with acrylic paints on a small canvas. The meditative nature of the process made for a relaxing afternoon and a refreshing change of pace from the surf. I didn’t miss the ocean at all and would return in a heartbeat to repeat this experience.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
The set up included a small blank canvas.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
Lowe taught us some rudimentary painting skills to create the turtle's shell.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
First, the background. We enjoyed some wine while painting the ocean in different shades of blue.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
Soon, a turtle appeared on my canvas. This wasn't easy to paint, but definitely fun.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
My little turtle. I kept him and took him home.

Michelle Nicole Lowe Art Gallery, Islamorada
Our final output. Painting together for an afternoon helped us nurture a jovial camaraderie.

Lowe’s gallery is situated just down the road from Morada Way Cultural and Arts District, which features additional galleries run by artists who welcome visitors warmly like old friends -- there’s no snobbery here.

You can see Lowe’s work at the gallery or at scheduled shows. Although Lowe doesn’t advertise classes, call her and ask for a customized, private session. A few hours painting with friends becomes a respite from the daily grind in an already marvelously relaxing destination. Islamorada’s proximity to Miami makes for an ideal staycation.

For more information, visit Michelle Nicole Lowe Gallery.


My participation in this outing was part of a press trip. As always, all opinions are my own.

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