Tom Freeman and Marcia Pennington - Artist Profile

The Lake Wales Arts Center is excited to be hosting the Florida Nature Exhibit in the Micheal Crews Gallery. We asked local artists Tom Freeman and Marcia Pennington about their career, ambitions, and inspirations. We hope you enjoy the interviews!



What is the most rewarding part about being a professional artist?

TF: The most rewarding part of being a professional artist is selecting subject matter that means a lot to me and have other people like it enough to purchase it.  It is particularly rewarding when people have an emotional reaction to one of my paintings.

MP: As an artist it is rewarding to conceive and execute a work of art which incorporates the elements and principles of fine art and is visually pleasing.

What aspects of Florida's history inspire your work?

TF: The natural beauty of the state of Florida is my inspiration.

MP: Florida history is often naturally infused into various paintings, as in the two murals in the lobby of the Lake Wales Medical Center depicting Bok Tower Gardens and the Lake Wales Art Center, another historic building.

When people see your work, what do you hope they remember?

TF: When people see my work I hope they will remember what they have seen in their Florida experiences – beautiful scenes including forests, sparkling water, old houses and barns, and all the plants and animals of the state.

Did you go to school to study visual art? If not, what did you study and why?

TF: Originally I planned to become an engineer, but after the war (WWII) there was no room at the University of Florida and I ended up in the first class of men at Florida State University in Tallahassee.  I studied commercial art and never looked back.

MP: I studied art a Rhode Island School of Design.  After experimenting with various forms of art, I graduated in art education.

What is the most rewarding part about being a professional artist?

TF: The most rewarding part of being a professional artist is selecting subject matter that means a lot to me and have other people like it enough to purchase it.  It is particularly rewarding when people have an emotional reaction to one of my paintings.

MP: After retiring from the school system, I began to paint, sometimes plein air on site, sometimes from the eye of my camera, I feel satisfaction when I capture a landscape or animal in a painterly fashion.

What aspects of Florida's history inspire your work?

TF: The natural beauty of the state of Florida is my inspiration.

When people see your work, what do you hope they remember?

TF: When people see my work I hope they will remember what they have seen in their Florida experiences – beautiful scenes including forests, sparkling water, old houses and barns, and all the plants and animals of the state.

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Did you go to school to study visual art? If not, what did you study and why?

TF: Originally I planned to become an engineer, but after the war (WWII) there was no room at the University of Florida and I ended up in the first class of men at Florida State University in Tallahassee.  I studied commercial art and never looked back.

MP: I taught art in elementary school for 15 years in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  I then became an art supervisor, helping art teachers in their classrooms, writing curriculum, and presenting workshops.  My most rewarding career achievement was the principalship of a fine arts magnet school.

Did you ever work within the school system for visual arts education? If so, can you name a rewarding experience while teaching?

TF: I worked in several businesses, some of which I owned, and taught art in high school in the Polk County Public Schools.  I also taught adult painting classes at night at the Art Centers in Lake Wales and Frostproof.

Can you speak on your first art sales experience?

TF: The first painting I sold was to one of my students who bought it for his patent’s 50th anniversary.

What makes you so successful in this community as a artist?

TF: I paint what I like, but I pay special attention to what other people like also when they make requests or commission something specific.

What is your favorite piece that you have painted?

TF: My favorite painting is of the “Cypress Cathedral” in London Creek, one of the most beautiful places in Polk County, only accessible by air boat.

What is one of the biggest challenges about being an artist?

TF: One of the most challenging and satisfying aspects of being an artist is to achieve my goal of making people happy to own and enjoy one of my paintings.

MP: It is always a challenge to make a selection and begin a new painting.  Once started, form, shape, and color take over, and the fun begins.


To find out more about the Florida Nature Exhibit, please click here.

Isabel Wadsworth