Our Instructors


Patt Bacon Watercolor

Patt's exploration of art began while growing up in Michigan with a love of crayons. Covering her mom's kitchen cupboards with still life compositions of any fruit or vegetable available became her passion. Over the past twenty-four years Patt has been teaching art in public schools and art guilds throughout northern Michigan. She began teaching at the Visual Arts Center in 2006. Galleries in Mackinac and Alpena Michigan have featured her paintings. She was also honored by a one woman show in Harrisville, Michigan and a four person show in the Goff Gallery. Patt has been thrilled to receive awards in exhibitions from Michigan to Florida and has paintings in private collections across the United States.

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Jim Beech Watercolor

Jim studied at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, the School of Visual Arts in New York, and Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario Canada. His background is primarily advertising design, graphic design and marketing communications art. Jim’s watercolor adventure begin in 1957, studying under prominent illustrator George Wilde in Philadelphia and later with the Schunnemunk Art Guild in Orange County, NY. In 1991 his family moved to Punta Gorda. Jim’s work can be seen in the Collectors Wall and Karchelle’s Galleries in Sarasota as well as in the Englewood Frame Shop and Frames Of Mind in Englewood. Jim is a member of the cooperative Sea Grape Gallery in Punta Gorda, the Arts And Humanities Council of Charlotte County and the Visual Arts Center.

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Linda Benson Drawing

Linda Benson creates art from her aqua home studio and gallery, Artist Xpress, a 46-foot Chris Craft. She trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art. Her 40-year career as a commercial artist included serving as a creative artist for the Chicago Tribune and most recently as a graphic designer and manager for various Florida newspapers. Linda exhibits oils, acrylics and watercolors winning numerous graphic design awards and was Artist of the Year in 2004 for the Fort Myers News-Press. She painted the co-hosts of FOX TV’s Morning Blend on air. Linda supports numerous charitable causes through her art and judges, exhibits and teaches art throughout Southwest Florida.


Dianne Brooks Jewelry

Dianne discovered her love for creating silver jewelry after a 30-year career in corporate computer systems. Her favorite medium is silver fabrication, but she has branched out to lapidary and intarsia, glass fusing and enameling. She also works in precious metal clay and wire. Her work has earned many ribbons in juried shows at the Visual Arts Center. Dianne expands her skills by taking several week-long classes each year at William Holland School of Lapidary arts in Georgia as well as at the Florida Society of Goldsmiths where she is a member. She loves to share her knowledge with others by regularly teaching all levels of silver jewelry fabrication, and occasionally teaching precious metal clay, glass fusing, enameling and cabochons at the Visual Arts Center.

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Nancy Colby Watercolor

Nancy’s natural ability has allowed her to continually achieve top honors including Best Pet Portrait Artist as voted by Sarasota Pet Magazine three times. She is often told her paintings are so real that you can almost pet the fur! Inspired by the love of all things related to animals, she expresses that love in all of her work which includes watercolor paintings, illustrations, and prints. Nancy is a two-term Past President of Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society and a member of the International Society of Feline Artists. To see her attention to detail and her love for animals, you can visit her website at www.catsbycolby.com. Nancy’s enthusiasm for her art and her willingness to share her techniques makes her popular both as a painter and an art instructor. Her classes offer demonstrations, individual instruction and fun!

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Belinda Dulcos Jewelry, Stained Glass

Belinda has been creating art since she was just 3 years old. Her grandmothers taught her to crochet and paint. She dabbled in pastel portraiture for a while, then discovered stained glass in 1986. Belinda loves the colors and textures of glass and is always excited to create a new piece. Her work reflects the influence of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright, but they're always her own creations. Furthermore,  Belinda has been creating jewelry for over 15 years. She loves the American Indian silver and turquoise jewelry style. Having found silver smithing at the VAC, she has since learned many new techniques and tools, and is now able to create her own original designs and share her enthusiasm for the art of jewelry making. She enjoys teaching others to create beautiful works in glass and jewelry. Belinda is a member of the Visual Arts Center and the Jewelry Arts Group in Punta Gorda.

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Margaret Egli Oil Painting

Margaret stuied graphic and fine art at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. She spent fourty years raising her family in Switzerland whre she painted en plein air throughout Europe. She has participated in exhibitions, created commisioned lithographs of small towns for the government and rendered many commisioned portraits for heads of state. Margaret and her husband retired to Florida in 2000 where she continued to exhibit, has won many prizes in plein air competitions and teaches workshops here and abroad, including Italy, Switzerland, Austraila and Ireland. Margaret's style is Alla Prima, her fast brush strokes showing strength and natural feeling for color. 

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Howard Hartke Pottery & Sculpture

Howard has been "in the mud" for 15 years. Never giving a thought to clay, Howard was a photographer and abstract artist. While at the University of Buffalo and running a successful photography business, he wandered in to the UB pottery studio one day, sat down at the wheel, and that was it...hooked! In the years since, Howard has had the opportunity to throw with many Master Potters in various parts of the country. He has incorporated their vast knowledge into his own techniques which allows him to offer a unique approach to teaching pottery. His many real world techniques give even the novice a sense of accomplishment. Not only a skilled potter, Howard is a witty and effervescent entertainer. Anyone who has ever been in one of his classes or seen a demonstration will attest to having great fun peppered with wit and humor.

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Inez Hudson Oil Painting

A self-taught artist, Inez describes herself as a “playful perfectionist.” Influenced by the art of Norman Rockwell, her oil paintings can tell you a story or simply engage you with her attention to detail, use of vivid color, and versatility of subject matter. Her body of work consists of landscapes, still life, figures, portraits, and wildlife. She studied with acclaimed artist, Frank Covino, learning the techniques of the Old Masters. Her 2 cartoon maps of Marco Island, created for The Sun Times, are now collectors’ items; she created 2 gators for the von Liebig’s “Gators Galore” fundraising event, a dolphin for Marco Island’s “Dolphin Debut”, and was a participant in the Naples Designer Show House. Inez was a founding member of the former Artist Colony at the Esplanade (13 artists in 3 galleries) on Marco Island, and is a juried member of American Women Artists, The International Guild of Realism and Oil Painters of America. Her work is in private collections throughout the country. You may view her work at www.InezHudson.com.

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Mary Jollett Doll Making

Mary Jollett has been a soft sculpture doll artist for more than a decade, making more than 200 dolls. She likes to work in cloth with needle-sculpted faces, and in paper, clay and Sculpy modeling compounds. Best known for her mermaids, she creates tree top angels, clowns, fortunetellers, patriotic dolls, elves and caricatures. You can find her dolls in the Visual Art Center Gift Shop and in Creations in Fishermen’s Village. Mary has won seven awards, is a member of the Visual Art Center, and of the South West Florida Fine Craft Guild. 

Kathleen Kelly Acrylic Painting

Pennsylvania transplant, world traveler, former art supply store owner, seasoned instructor, Kathleen Eve Kelly paints portraits, still-lifes and seascapes in acrylic, oil and pastel selling her work on various social media and Internet sale sites. Kathleen also is the administrator to “Art Beat Online!”. Kathleen focuses her love of animals by creating K9 portraits for the handlers of fallen heroes. “Don’t let your brushes gather dust!”

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Christine Keyworth Polymer Clay


Christine grew up in Michigan and moved to Florida in January of 1977 with her husband and son. Her mother, who was quite the crafty lady, taught her knit and to sew, and not to be afraid to fail at something she was just learning. Christine even made her own school clothes, including a dress for the senior prom.  In addition, Christine can throw stoneware pottery, weave rattan baskets, knit, crochet, weave rag rugs, jewelry beading and wire crafting. When she found polymer clay, she knew she had found the perfect medium to work with.

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Catherine Lucas Painting

Born into a traveling military family, Catherine experienced the awe-inspiring art from many different cultures as she grew up. This motivated her to start drawing as a young child, and the sacredness of life she experienced in these cultures continues to inform her work. Catherine’s artistic education includes a BFA from Hofstra University (NY) and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art, Graduate School of Figurative Art (NYC). After completing her program at New York Academy of Art, Catherine continued her education through long term study with Anthony Ryder at the Ryder Studio School in Santa Fe NM focusing on portrait painting and figure drawing. During this time Catherine also completed workshop study in the still life genre at the Grand Central Academy of Art in New York. Catherine exhibits her work in Florida, New York, and Santa Fe, NM. Additionally, she teaches painting and drawing through the CSSP program at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota FL.

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Rosalie Mack Drawing, Art History

A true Florida “native,” Rosalie was born and raised in Bradenton, FL. Beginning her college years at the University of Florida, she transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi and worked as a fashion illustrator while she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts. After teaching for a period in Vicksburg, MS, she was offered a position as advertising director for a regional fashion chain store in Monroe, LA. Her Florida roots were calling to her and she returned to the area working as a Creative Director for an advertising agency and a freelance artist. She began teaching art in Charlotte County in 1982 and recently retired from Charlotte High School where she taught Advanced Placement Drawing (a college course), Drawing and Painting, and Art History & Appreciation. She is very proud of her Tarpon students over the years, many of whom have received coveted art scholarships and gone on to prestigious art schools, colleges and universities. As an artist, Rosalie loves drawing in all mediums and has a passion for art history!

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Don Melander Watercolor

A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Don has just recently moved to Punta Gorda. Initially a self taught artist, he has also studied with internationally renowned teachers such as author and watercolorist Tony Couch, Australian watercolor artist Robert Wade and master artist Cheng-Khee Chee. Don paints charming and delicate watercolors and renders pencil drawings in a realistic style. The winner of multiple awards, including first place in judged and juried shows, Don teaches drawing and watercolor classes at the Englewood Art Center, and has had the opportunity to teach workshops both locally and nationally. He is a member of the Florida Watercolor Society, a signature member of the Southwest Florida Watercolor Society, the Sea Grape Gallery in Punta Gorda, the Minnesota Arrowhead Art Club, and an active member of numerous Charlotte County and Sarasota County art centers.

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Naomi Paquette Basket Weaving

Naomi, better known as Nony, has lived in Florida since 1992 when she moved from New England after a professional career with DTS as a point of sales system trainer

and programmer. She also owned a salon on Boca Grande. Art is her passion, and when a particular form of art catches her attention, she focuses on it until she masters it. She has taught Colored Pencil, Watercolor Batiking and Basket Weaving in Southwest Florida art centers for the past 12 years. She is self-taught in weaving and enjoys sharing what

she has learned with others in a FUN way. 

Robert Pavon Charcoal Drawing & Figure Drawing

Robert Pavon was born in Havana, Cuba in 1975. At eighteen he joined the United States Marine Corps where he served thirteen years in the infantry both at home and abroad. His art is mostly influenced by the classical art of realism from the renaissance with a focus on portraiture, figure, and still life. Deciding on formal training, Robert started school at Edison College and was awarded a scholarship for his work. He won an award at the college 2012 art competition at the Bob Rauschenberg art gallery. After receiving his Associate in Arts, he went on to study at Florida Gulf Coast University where he received a Bachelor in art in the spring of 2014. Robert has also been the recipient of many awards, including the Florida Gulf Coast University art award in 2013. His influences are the old masters of the renaissance and baroque period. This classical style is something he has always been drawn to and hopes to share with those around him.

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Marquellynn Raposa Painting

Marki is a graphic designer, art instructor, previous gallery owner and recipient of numerous awards for her fine art paintings. She received her master’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. Marki manages the Visual Arts Center’s members gallery, Goff Gallery. She works directly with the members to schedule, coordinate and assist in hanging art exhibits. She arranges private art parties through her company, “Lets Get Splashed”, a fun evening of art and wine for groups and/or private parties. Painting parties include acrylic painting on canvass, bags and wine glasses. She also teaches pet portraits from a photo.



Diana Reinhard Jewelry

Diana is a retired science teacher who has turned her knowledge of stones and her love of teaching into jewelry making. Her interest in art began over 25 years ago while developing a high school horticulture course which integrated art and science. Working with artists in the Baltimore area, she learned the techniques of creating "wearable art" using paper or cloth. Upon retiring from 31 years of teaching in Rockville, Maryland, Diana moved to Port Charlotte and created wearable art as fundraisers for clubs and organizations. Retirement also made more time for taking jewelry courses in dichroic glass, wire wrapping and PMC. Diana has utilized her teaching skills to instruct others in the techniques of creating paper or cloth jewelry and wire wrapped jewelry.

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Ron Sanders Oil Painting, Portraiture

Ron began pursuing art as a small child, working in oils by the age of nine, studying anatomy soon after, and selling his first commissioned work by the age of eleven. He received his BFA in illustration at the Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio, where he graduated with honors. Embracing his commercial training, he began working as a freelance illustrator while still in college. Ron has produced illustrations for advertising and promotional material, books, calendars and newspapers. His clients include Spike TV, Doubleday Bookclub, Harcourt and its subsidiaries, McGraw Hill, Chase Financial, The Boy Scouts, BF Goodrich Tire Co., The Detroit Free Press, and Minneapolis Star Tribune. Ron has also experimented with the imited edition print market, but his focus remains on original oil paintings. This has led to the exhibition of his work in prestigious national juried shows and more than a dozen art galleries throughout the United States and its territories since 1993. Visit Ron's website.

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Susan Shore Apoxie Sculpture

Susan was born in Michigan, to creative parents and siblings, and started her art career in middle school with a paper mache ducks. She moved on to oil painting after the birth of her children. The last ten years have been centered on sculpture and creating a new method for sculpting 3-dimensional art forms. In 2002, Susan discovered Apoxi Sculpt, a self-hardening polymer clay which she could use with her unique method of creating armatures out of floral wire and the Sunday newspaper. This provided a way for the novice, as well as the professional artist, to demonstrate their creativity more economically and in less time than conventional methods. Susan has authored "Adventures in Sculpting" and teaches classes using this method to sculpt animals, jewelry, flowers, and abstract as well as any other art form her students want to create. She presently teaches at the Punta Gorda and North Port Visual Arts Centers and the Port Charlotte Cultural Center. The rest of her "art time" is devoted to providing private instruction and exhibiting her creations.

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Clyde Sweatt Photography

Clyde developed an interest in photography as a teenager growing up in New York City. He began his education by studying Commercial Photography at the New York Institute of Photography. It was there that he became skilled at using equipment from 35mm to 8 x 10 view cameras and at doing studio and dark room work. Over the years, he’s taken additional course work in digital photography at the Nikon school and the Nikonians academy. After his studies, Clyde began a career in human resources management and later in municipal management. H also continued his practice of photography, at different times doing product, portrait and wedding photography. The majority of his work is of a photojournalistic nature, focusing on street scenes in New York City, as well as landscapes. His work has been exhibited in numerous public buildings. After Clyde retired in 2013, he and his wife moved to Punta Gorda. His retirement allows him to devote mote time to his lifelong passion: photography.

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Jack Vartanian Pottery

Jack is originally from Rhode Island and studied pottery at Roger Williams University, graduating with a BFA. He stayed at the university for 2 years to teach pottery 1 and 2 classes. Producing functional and decorative pottery became Jack's livelihood and teaching pottery his passion. He owned and operated a very lucrative high fire stoneware pottery known as Potpourri Potters in North Kingstown, RI. Before moving to Punta Gorda, Jack managed South County Art Association in Kingston, RI. In addition to managing the pottery studio, Jack taught pottery 1, 2 and advanced pottery classes at that facility.

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Pamela Wilson Gelli Printing

Pam’s passion for painting started at college in California. She moved with her husband to Vermont and discovered she wanted to continue painting. She had an opportunity to study with talented artists in watercolor and oils. Soon thereafter, she began to teach children and adults, both at an art gallery and in her home studio. A few years ago, after moving to Florida, her interest in art got more serious and she began trying different mediums. Oils and mix media became her passion. Her newest interest is Gelli plate printing and she loves to share her knowledge with others.

Beverly Yankwitt Abstract Painting

Beverly moved here from West Virginia with her husband, Ralph, and two children in 1985. Upon retirement from Merrill Lynch in 2012, she has been pursuing her true love – art. Beverly is a member of SeaGrape Gallery, the Florida Watercolor Society, International Society of Experimental Artists and a past president of the Board of Directors for the Arts & Humanities Council of Charlotte County. Her art has been accepted in many juried shows including the 2014 National Art Exhibition held at the Visual Arts Center. She works in oils and mixed media and especially enjoys abstract art in mixed media.

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