Talking with the Artists: Timucuan Parks Foundation’s “Celebrate & Explore Our Wilderness Parks” Traveling Exhibition

Time is running out for you to visit our “Celebrate & Explore Our Wilderness Parks” Exhibition at the Beaches Museum. You have until November 7 to visit the museum to see the works from local artists including Will Dickey, Tom Schifanella and Kathy Stark. There you will also get information about Northeast Florida’s wilderness parks and preserves and what we are doing to protect, promote and enhance Jacksonville’s natural areas.

Artist Kathy Stark

Over the last few weeks, we have been giving you a closer look at what makes our artists tick. We are wrapping up our Talking with the Artist Blog series with a question-and-answer with fine artist Kathy Stark.

Kathy, a Jacksonville native, specializes in watercolor and oil painting. Most of her artwork depicts natural Florida landscapes, which she explores by hiking, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking and dog walking. Her work has been shown in museums and galleries throughout Northeast Florida and has been collected both privately and corporately. Kathy has painted a series of large watercolors of the area’s amazing wild park system which are showcased in her book and traveling exhibit titled “The Wilderness of North Florida’s Parks.”

What inspires you?

I am a Jacksonville native and Florida’s beauty, especially the waterways that surround us, have been a draw for me since I was a child. When I became an artist, the paths and trails that led to the waterways were filled with colorful and vibrant plants that I wanted to capture on canvas. I had done several watercolor paintings of the parks and preserves around Northeast Florida and then when the crowd-funding festival One Spark came to Jacksonville, it got me thinking, what more could I do? That inspired me to create more paintings of the natural spaces that surround our city and led to my book, “Wilderness of North Florida Parks,” which is meant to serve as an inspirational and motivational guide to the beauty that surrounds us.

What is your creative process?

Painting by Kathy Stark

My creative process begins with photographs. I love to be outside and to hike, bike, canoe and kayak. My paintings are my adventures. When I am out in nature, I capture photographs of these amazing landscapes and bring them back to my studio where I put them to canvas. Because of the subject matter, I prefer to paint on large canvases. I paint realistically and then use artistic license to amplify the color making the image look more like a painting than a photograph.

Why do you feel it’s important to protect and celebrate the nature found in our parks?

It is so beautiful. You have to get out and get in it. My reasoning behind my book project was to get people to experience the area’s parks which I have loved since I was young. When I started the project, I had been to about 50 to 60 percent of the destinations and it gave me a chance to explore. I discovered Bayard Conservation Area just west of the Shands Bridge near Green Cove Springs. Fort George Island Cultural State Park is one of my favorite destinations, as is the Theodore Roosevelt Area and the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. I published the book in partnership with the Timucuan Parks Foundation as a way to share the wonderful scenery and provide an educational resource for the community. I am thankful to be able to be a Florida artist and a sort of ambassador for the parks. These areas are so very special and we need to protect them for future generations.

To learn more about Kathy and her works, visit www.kathystark.com.

Timucuan Parks Foundation’s 20th Anniversary “Celebrate & Explore Our Wilderness Parks” Exhibition is in the Dickinson Gallery at the Beaches Museum at 381 Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach. Admission is free. For more information on visiting the exhibition, go to beachesmuseum.org or call (904) 241-5657.