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Artist's collage work featured at annual Fall Show and Sale in Lakewood Ranch

River Club's Carol Lewis will be just one of the many artists featured at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

The work of River Club's Carole Lewis will be featured at the 18th annual Fall Show and Sale Nov. 16 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.
The work of River Club's Carole Lewis will be featured at the 18th annual Fall Show and Sale Nov. 16 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.
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As she looks over some of her mixed media paintings that will be for sale Nov. 16 at the 18th annual Fall Show and Sale at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, River Club artist Carole Lewis admitted she has one fear.

She worries where her work might eventually end up if she does sell it at the Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch event.

"If I saw it (later) in a garage sale, I would be sick," she said with a laugh.

It's not because she thinks she is Pablo Picasso. She remembered buying a Picasso lithograph once when she was 19 and living in Orlando. She loved art, probably because her mom (Sara Nalley) was so good at decorating, but she didn't want to shoot for the stars when it came to art.

"I tried to do something like that," she said of the Picasso. "It's not that easy."

So art remained a hobby over the years for Lewis, who never expected anyone would want to pay money for one of her works.

Then five years ago, she kind of fell into a new form of art for her, a form of collage. She had become interested in the art because she was checking out some books by California artist Anna Corba, who did collage art and used ephemera (collectible memorabilia that mostly is paper based). She would tear up the paper into tiny pieces and glue it on to her painting

Lewis remembers doing a painting she didn't like very much. She decided to cover it with paper. She was hooked.

When she moved to River Club from Columbus, Ohio five years ago, she decided to take collage and painting classes at Art Center Sarasota. She was going to dive into this mixed media form.

It wasn't long before her friends that she calls "real artists" began to ask her if she was going to display her work at art shows. Eventually, she thought it might not be a bad idea.

"I was making birthday gifts and things for my kids," she said. "But art is so individual. You always wonder if there is an audience for it."

When she first started assembling her collage work, she thought it was interesting and she liked the textures of the paper. She added a class on painting, marking and stamping tissue paper.

She also became more interested in the other facet of her art, which was finding the proper fodder for her projects. She would tear up old dictionaries, books or even menus from Paris to be "authentic." Tissue paper was an easy way to add color.

As she tore up the paper and began to apply it, she learned her hobby isn't for everyone.

"You are dealing with teeny, little things," she said. "It would make a lot of people crazy.

"I'm a big person, but I like little things."

She has done about 50 pieces in her five years of collage.

It takes her about eight hours to complete a piece, and she often sits about three hours at a time, often when her husband, Richard, is watching a ball game.

"It's relaxing," she said. "I love having all the materials around me."   

Lewis, who has four children and eight grandchildren, often concentrates on flowers, which are her favorite to do, and she doesn't conform to the medium's standards.

"The art is supposed to have light, dark and medium," she said. "I always do medium. I love blue, turquoise. pink."

Most of her art sells for about $85. The most expensive one she was sold brought $165.

"I see so many talented women, some selling paintings for $1,000," Lewis said. "I am amazed how many people have the talent."


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