BROOKSVILLE — In a sprawling country-rustic edifice, where leafy Liberty Street meets a cozy block of E Jefferson Street, Artful Possibilities has taken up central residence.
"Perfect for art," says artist-owner Michelle Margotta.
"Lots of window light," de rigueur for artists. Margotta pointed out ranks of glass in both of two working studios over which she reigns, with "much more elbow room."
After four years in tighter quarters at a strip plaza on Spring Hill Drive, Margotta said the new site, with some 1,600 square feet, more than doubles the former studio-shop space.
She and her husband, Mike Margotta, also built in a mini kitchen, a plus for those who schedule celebratory painting parties with their own refreshments.
Partygoers, as well as walk-ins, can paint a small- to medium-size ceramic piece or a 12- by 12-inch canvas and take home a finished piece in one to two hours.
The gallery shop carries choose-your-own raw bisque pieces, from miniature cartoon character likenesses to every-holiday bric-a-brac, plus bowls, vases and tabletop figurines, beverage mugs and platters. The functional pieces, Margotta pointed out, must be fired overnight in a kiln to make them completely food safe.
Art canvasses are available in a range of sizes. Would-be and amateur artists are free to replicate Margotta's completed works, which fill wall spaces, or may try their skill with originals.
While she tends to an individual painter's techniques or queries when not otherwise engaged, she prefers class teaching, where her attention holds forth undivided.
"I'm very customer service oriented," Margotta said. "People like to have direction."
She provides that in structured classes in ceramic and canvas painting with acrylics. Sessions range through daytimes, evenings and weekends for youngsters, teens and adults.
Classes of two to three hours, usually carry a theme or subject — for instance, girls night out, dual canvas art for couples, toddler time or pillow painting.
Margotta has a hyper interest in mixing media, for example painting paired with crafting. On a recent Crafty Chix Nite, women painted a ceramic bunny, embellished a ready-made place mat with Easter appliques and painted a small canvas in tune with spring.
Collage-like, Margotta has blended a wallpaper border and commercial stickers with a whimsical landscape painting, applied burlap twine accents to a painted cottage canvas, and attached bows and sparkles to a ceramic figurine.
For all comers, Margotta supplies paints, brushes, aprons … and the light. One wall of windows looks down on a near-jungle of native palmettos and low-growing palm fronds, a scene waiting to be converted to canvas.
From inside, the windows reflect completed canvasses on the studio walls. For shadowed days and nighttime, new interior LED lighting sets the scene.
"Even if people are doing detail, they can see everything," Margotta said.
While Margotta, 56, claims no formal art schooling beyond some adult education classes, she grew up among clay and paint pots in a home ceramic studio owned by her parents. She credits her dad with teaching close attention to detail.
She has authored and illustrated six instruction manuals on painting on wood. They include patterns for wooden cutouts, having taught herself carpentry.
As for what's next, Margotta said, "I'm going to be developing … ."
At an eye roll from her husband, she paused, then acknowledged, "I like to keep things fresh. I don't let it get stale for my guests, and I always have to be creative for myself."
Several ideas, she said, are churning.
Contact Beth Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.