BROOKSVILLE — Lynne Simone believes that nothing captures the beauty and vividness of life better than color. When it comes to creating her pastel portraits of people and animals, she has one steadfast rule: Don't be stingy with the medium.
It's a philosophy that has served the Spring Hill artist well. Her realistic creations offer a veritable fountain of blended hues that are not only visual feasts, but are intended to draw the viewer into an emotional bond with the work.
"The goal for me is to make what is true to me true to the subject on the canvas," Simone said. "I want whoever sees it to feel what I feel."
The past month has been busy for Simone. In addition to readying 15 of her pastels for display at the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery's summer exhibit, she has had to prepare for this weekend's 24th annual Hernando County Fine Arts Council Art, Craft & Music Festival.
A rigorous schedule is nothing new, though. In addition to helping to run her family's mattress business, she's a mother to two children. Her artistic pursuits offer Simone an opportunity to express her relationship with the world around her.
"Art is all about communicating what's in your heart," she said. "Every time you put paint onto paper or canvas, you are putting in a part of yourself."
Although she works in other media, Simone says she enjoys pastels for their ease of application. And though much of her technique was self-taught, she said Hernando artist Diane Becker helped her to create more vivid images.
"Diane helped me discover ways of creating stronger contrasts through layers of color," Simone said. "That allowed me to make bolder statements as an artist."
Although she studied commercial art and design in college, Simone felt her true creative calling was that of a portrait artist. Her display at the City Hall Art Gallery includes several wildlife scenes and even a couple of pet portraits she created on commission.
In addition to pursuing her artistic talents, Simone is an advocate for other local artists wanting to do the same. Soon after joining the Spring Hill Art League in 2004, she began seeing the need for new blood in Hernando County's sleepy art scene. She signed on to be the club's historian and public relations leader.
"There are so many good artists in Hernando County, and I'd like to see more of them get the recognition that they deserve," she said. "People who go down to Tampa and see local artists exhibit tell me that they are amazed to find that we don't have similar outlets for the artists who live and work here."
But she thinks that's on the verge of changing. She said the league has been working with the Hernando County Fine Arts Council to encourage more independent public places to set aside areas for local artist displays. In addition, Simone maintains and updates the league's monthly newsletter — seen at
springhillartleague.com — which keeps art enthusiasts informed about local art happenings.
Ultimately, Simone would like to see something along the lines of an artist district where men and women would be able to create and sell their works.
"It's wishful thinking, I know," she said. "But when you consider how many people attend the art show every May, it's not that much of a pipe dream. It would be a huge plus for Hernando County."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.