DeLisle Channels Her Inner O’Keeffe

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Flower Child!

Carol DeLisle, the Fort Myers Beach Library’s “Artist of The Month” for March, traces her interest in art to her school days. “In my sophomore year at St. Agnus High School in St. Paul, I applied to be in what was basically Art 101,” laughs Carol at the memory. “The little nun in charge, Sister John, told me I had no aptitude for art, but she let in one of my sisters, who had none! I was so discouraged I never attempted art again until 25 years ago!”

With that rejection long behind her, Carol makes a return appearance as the “Artist of the Month,” a distinction that almost did not happen due to a basic miscommunication. “Since I already had the honor in 2013, last October I thought someone else should do it, but that message did not reach Dr. Leroy Hommerding, the Library director. He called me several weeks ago, saying how excited he was to display my paintings, and when I told him I passed on the idea last Fall, there was dead silence! I asked if that put him in a bad position and he said it sure did, so I thought about it for a minute and said, ‘well I guess I can do it again’ and I could hear the happiness in his voice.”

Her artistic expression stifled by Sister John, Carol and husband Tom raised three sons in Minnesota, but constantly attended art exhibits, with Georgia O’Keeffe a favorite: “I love her paintings of big flowers,” recalls Carol. “I would always say, ‘I wish I could do that!’ Then one day I came home, and Tom laid out the local Lakewood Community College newspaper where he circled an advertisement for a basic watercolor class, saying ‘it starts tonight – see if you can get in.’ I called and they had one opening, so I took the only art supplies I had at the time – a notebook and pencil! Fortunately, the gal next to me loaned me paints and paper, and I repaid her by buying peanut butter cups to share! Our instructor was a high school teacher, so that was perfect, because she knew how to teach students who did not know much.”

Family, however, remained her priority. “The three sons eventually led to eight grandchildren, and there was always something going on with their lives,” she explains. “Vacations began around Miami, when the boys were still children, but once the grandchildren arrived, we found that area too crime-ridden so we came to Fort Myers Beach 34 years ago, staying at a variety of places until we bought our own in 2000.”

Georgia On Her Mind

Roughly 8 years ago, a friend mentioned the Alliance For The Arts in Fort Myers, and Carol went, but they did not offer watercolor classes, so she switched to acrylics before segueing into oils, “that I just love!” Around then, she tired of the drive to the Alliance and shifted to the Fort Myers Beach Art Association. “It is wonderful to attend the sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, where you can encounter anything, like working with coloring books and knitting. The best part, however, is the fun and interaction of the group – we gab as much as we do art!”

O’Keeffe remains Carol’s favorite: “She is my inspiration, from looking at all her paintings at her various exhibits. Tom bought me the postcard book, ‘100 Flowers of Georgia O’Keeffe,’ and I look at it a lot for inspiration. I enjoy as well painting birds, water life, and sunrises and sunsets, but flowers are my forte and make up roughly half of the 22 paintings in the Library display.” Carol does not sell her paintings, but gives most of them away. “I love painting and enjoy showing my work, but generally a friend will see something of mine in our home and say ‘that is really beautiful’ and I give it to them.”

To speak with Carol firsthand about her exhibit and passion, attend the “Artist of the Month” reception at the Library’s 3rd floor gallery on Tuesday, March 14, at 3 p.m., and vote for your favorite painting throughout March. The library is at 2755 Estero Boulevard; hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Wednesday to 7 p.m. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; closed Sunday and holidays including Saturday, March 11, for the Shrimp Fest.

As to what Carol would say today to Sister John, who discouraged her all those years ago, “I would just smile and show her a few of my paintings!”

 

Gary Mooney