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Art lovers, clear your schedules

Pottery, jewelry, photos, watercolors - whatever kind of art you fancy, it will probably be at the Tarpon festival.

Published April 7, 2006

TARPON SPRINGS - She's painted in the snow. She's painted in the rain. She's painted nearly every day for most of her life.

"If I don't paint every day I feel guilty," said artist Judith Rogers. "Except for Sundays. Sundays are for church and family."

And except for this Saturday and Sunday. Those days are for anyone who is as passionate about art as Rogers is.

More than 20,000 people are expected to converge on Craig Park for the 32nd annual Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival. The scenic Spring Bayou, site of the town's Epiphany cross dive, will be the backdrop.

"It's a wonderful art show in a beautiful setting," said Tj Davis, president of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.

More than 400 artists vied for spots in the chamber's only yearly fundraiser. The 250 who were chosen will bring a wide variety of work, including pottery, fiber art, glass, jewelry, metal, leather, wood, photography, graphics, acrylics, watercolors, oils and mixed media.

"Some of the finest artists in the country will be exhibiting," Davis said. "Come out and enjoy yourself."

Rogers, 63, is so passionate about her art that if she's out and about and sees something of interest, she has to draw it.

"I always have my sketch pad with me," she said.

Generally, however, Rogers works in watercolor, acrylics or, occasionally, oils. She likes to work quickly, on location, and does not sketch out her pieces first.

For this weekend's show, expect to see landscapes and seascapes of both Tarpon Springs, where Rogers lives during the winter, and of her native Maine, where she lives and has her art gallery from June to October. She also likes to paint old houses, portraits and animals, she said.

Her passion has led her to visit and capture a wide range of locations and sites throughout the world, including camels in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India and the green rolling countryside of Wales.

It has also led her to pass on what she has learned. Calling her work a "labor of love" and her talents a "gift and a blessing," Rogers said she thinks her work teaching here and abroad is an important part of what she does.

Her advice to aspiring artists is to paint every day.

"Use it or lose it," she said.

[Last modified April 7, 2006, 01:31:16]

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