BROOKSVILLE — For Paxton Watkins, painting is an adventure: You choose a path and see where it leads.
The journey can begin from any point — a wall, a ceiling, even the body panel of an antique truck. All have served as canvases for Watkins' artistic talents.
And, yes, he creates traditional canvas paintings, many of which are featured in the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery's spring exhibit.
The Masaryktown artist's philosophy toward art is pretty straightforward: Humans should be surrounded by the creative spirit from the waking of the day to bedtime. He takes pride in painting images that warm a room without overwhelming it.
"I feel that a nice painting can transform a space into a living entity," Watkins said. "Being an artist means expressing the true beauty and emotion of a subject so that others can feel what you feel. It's my passion."
That passion can be found in the vivid colors Watkins meticulously works into his canvas. Sunset skies are flooded with flowing red, orange, pink and yellow hues. Forests and meadows ooze with every conceivable shade of green.
Born 38 years ago in Charlotte, N.C., Watkins said his artistic inspiration came largely from his great-great-grandmother and grandmother, who painted portraits and landscapes all their lives. Though he managed to take a few drawing classes in junior college, his desire to work with a brush didn't come until he was 25 years old.
"I more or less stumbled into it," he said. "I was really into art history, and I read a lot of books. My favorites were the Old World painters of Europe, who had a very distinct use of light. I've based a lot of my style on those techniques, except that I've adapted them to contemporary mediums."
Watkins, a bit of an explorer, looks for art potential in just about everything. A home interior designer by trade, he has often worked with custom home builders to create unique, nature-related murals. His work can be found in several prominent homes in the Tampa Bay area.
"I try to come up with an idea that fits well with the other surroundings in the home," he said. "But in the end, it's not my vision; it's the homeowner's. My job is to bring that vision to life."
Although the recession has slowed his home interior business, Watkins has stayed busy with his art, which he markets on his Web site, fauxfinishtampaflorida.com.
He is also involved in other projects, including a proposal for a downtown Brooksville mural honoring the area's military veterans, which he intends to pitch to the Brooksville Mural Society.
"It would be a great way to honor the people who have given so much of their lives to ensure our freedom," Watkins said.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.