Beacons of the High Seas

According to the Navy League, no industry has been more vital to the economy of the United States than that of America’s maritime industry. Lighthouses was once the cornerstone of maritime industry. 

For the month of August, I will be celebrating National Lighthouse Day with discounts on my lighthouse art at the boutique store Made in Jax at the Jacksonville International Airport. 

Save big on my Gliclee prints at the airport. Gliclee (zhee-KLAY) is a museum quality investment that uses acid free watercolor paper, and pigment based archival inks. This insures that Gliclees never fade, degrade or yellow. Unlike a print that may fade, a 6 color ink jet process ensures a Gliclee retains its original luster. 


The Nature of Peace 

Find tranquility and peace at Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Nature softly beckons you to this peaceful wonderland. Picturesque rolling hills dotted with grazing cows usher you into Florida’s Forgotten Coast less than an hour’s drive from Tallahassee. Low lying clouds frame this idyllic setting along a winding quiet country road. This trip is easy on your eyes and your wallet. For the less than $20 a car, you can visit two of Florida’s hidden gems. 

Kayaking, hiking, camping, angling await you at Wakulla County. There’s an abundance of outdoor recreation and wildlife at Edward Ball State Park and St. Marks National Refuge at Apalachee Bay on the Gulf Coast in Wakulla County. 

Edward Ball State Park is home to Wakulla Springs. Take a refreshing dip in the swimming area and enjoy a relaxing cruise along Wakulla Springs. Get a glimpse of manatees, alligators and other wildlife in their natural habitat. The State Park also offers hiking trails and outdoor benches with grills. Stay the night at Wakulla Lodge and grab some ice cream at the parlor inside the lodge. 

Climb a beautiful lighthouse; witness a breathtaking view at St Marks.

Established in 1931, St. Marks is a habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. During a hike, you may see deer, wild turkeys, owls, amphibians, reptiles and more. The lighthouse constructed in 1831 is on the National Register of Historic Sites. The light keeper’s house is attached to the 88 foot tower. Recently restored to its former glory, St. Marks Lighthouse reopens to the public in September. 

Your visit to Wakulla County will leave you with postcard memories and peaceful experiences and a bundle of cold cash in your wallet. 

Experience the Real Florida at Wakulla Lodge 

Instead of counting sheep, I counted seven manatees and my blessings before bedding down at Wakulla Lodge. Located at Edward Ball State Park, the Historic Lodge offers a panoramic view of Wakulla Springs.

Everything is convenient. A swimming area and the Wakulla Springs Boat Cruise are a few steps away. A hiking trail is also across the street and bar-b-que grilling areas outside. There’s plenty of outdoor recreation to be had.

Inside the Wakulla Lodge, there is a pleasant dining room and an ice cream parlor with a gift shop. The rooms are clean and spacious. My room had a single bed, a double bed and a rollaway bed in a huge walk-in closet. Despite a few specks of chipped paint, the property which opened in 1937 wears its age quite well. 

The prices are affordable and it’s a nice quiet getaway for the family. You won’t have the distractions of tv or the Internet. While there is Wifi, it never connected in my room. The front desk explained there was no internet due to a storm a few weeks ago. 

It is also “hit and miss” making phone calls from a mobile device. Wakulla Lodge is a great retreat from the noise of modern living. While the Internet may or may not connect, families will have a chance to connect and experience the Real Florida. 

Zero Chance of Manatees?

When I purchased my ticket for the Wakulla Springs boat cruise, my only question was “Will I see manatees today.” I love manatees and I had planned this side trip just to see them. But the man at the ticket counter replied there were no reported sightings of manatees for the day. With my hopes somewhat dashed, I purchased my ticket for the 4 pm cruise. After all, the forecasters predicted rain and there had been no rain. Could the manatee forecast be wrong? Zero chance of manatees, I wondered. 

Five minutes into the tour a huge manatee swam beside where I was sitting. I gave out a loud cheer. The guide was startled by the manatee and stopped for photo ops. He said this manatee sighting and a bird piercing a fish would be the highlights of tour. But he like the forecasters, was wrong. For a few minutes later, we watched a mother manatee nurse her calf before they swam away. Then sometime later, we saw a tiny manatee join his older sibling for a swim. Mom was overseeing the brood on the edge of the water nearby.

We had witnessed so many precious moments it was hard to believe that I had seen this all in the course of an hour. Before we ended the cruise, another manatee was sighted. Seven manatees in all. 

At the end the cruise, the captain said he had never seen so many manatees on a cruise during the Spring. I smiled lifting my hands with heartfelt gratitude to the One who had sent manatees and sunshine my way. Zero chance of manatees? Hardly. 

Breaking the Sound Barrier

I visited the Pensacola Lighthouse with my family after attending a reunion in Mississippi. This would be the fourth and final lighthouse to sketch during our trip. I was happy to end the trip with a lighthouse I had longed to paint. Located on the western most tip of Florida, the lighthouse seemed to be unreachable. 

Although rain had been forecasted for the day, we decided to visit the lighthouse on a cloudy day. After clearing security, we headed to the lighthouse. The National Naval Aviation Museum was in eyesight of the museum. Although I’ve been to many air shows, the sight and sounds of the Blue Angels flying near the lighthouse captured my imagination. 

To see more of my art and to learn more about lighthouses,  visit my website Elaine Marie Artist

Shop local at Made in Jax 

Experience the best of Jacksonville, Florida while exploring unique art, handcrafted items and custom jewelry at the boutique shop Made in Jax at the Jacksonville Airport. Over 60 local artists are showcased. 

Stop by to see my Archival Gliclee Lighthouse watercolor prints. Each print in the Escape Artist series is signed and features a narrative with visitor information, interesting facts and a fascinating tale. To learn more about me, visit my website, Elaine Marie Artist 

TGIF: Artists Explore and Paint Nation’s Oldest City 

Artists converge on the coastal town of St. Augustine, April 21-29. The Plein Air event features outdoor painting at historic sites, brunch, closing reception, demonstration, exhibit and more. 

Artists will begin checking in on April 21. The day follows with an orientation brunch and quick drawn on April 22. Celebrity artist Roger Bansemer gives a painting demo on April 26. He is one of the hosts of the PBS seies, “Painting and Traveling with Roger and Sarah Bansemer.” Roger was the show winner in last year’s event. The Plein Air Paint Out concludes on April 29 with a reception and Nocturne painting session. Following the Plein Air event, there will be a juried exhibit, May 4-27 at the St. Augustine Art Association on 22 Marine Street. 
There is a fee to participate as an artist in this event. For more information, call 904-824-2310.