Friday, September 25, 2020

A Larger-Than-Life Celebration of Florida’s Birds


Denise Santos adds the finishing touches at her workshop in Goodland. Submitted Photos

Denise Santos adds the finishing touches at her workshop in Goodland. Submitted Photos

The first thing you notice when parking in front of the Donna Fiala Wellness Center at Eagle Lakes, East Naples is a towering seven-foot tall cotton-candy pink roseate spoonbill installed on a front entry wall of the Center. Your eye is drawn to it immediately. Denise Santos, artist from Goodland was commissioned to create a series of hand painted collection of Florida birds for the outside walls of the Donna Fiala Wellness Center. The roseate spoonbill is the first bird in the series. According to Denise, the birds will be used for educational/ environmental awareness.

Denise admitted that she’s never created an interpretative drawing of a roseate spoonbill. She started the process by first selecting the bird. Feathers were another first for her. Working from real images of the spoonbill, Denise wanted to make sure that she captured

Artist Denise Santos (left) and Commissioner Donna Fiala in front of the seven-foot tall roseate spoonbill at the Donna Fiala Wellness Center.

Artist Denise Santos (left) and Commissioner Donna Fiala in front of the seven-foot tall roseate spoonbill at the Donna Fiala Wellness Center.

the uniquely shaped bill and the stunning pink coloration, with light pink on its wings and darker pink shadings on the fringes.

Once Denise had decided on the spoonbill, she started painting the area that attracted her first. Then she stood back and tried not to look at the whole pattern, but worked on one small area at a time. It took Denise one month to finish the seven-foot roseate spoonbill.

Coming soon is a burrowing owl, which will be the second bird in the collection. In real life, the burrowing owl is the size of a water bottle, but the artwork for the Donna Fiala Wellness Center will stand about five feet tall. Both the roseate spoonbill and the burrowing owl are on the Florida “threatened species list.”

Denise Santos has thirty years experience in the sign business and

The burrowing owl, a work in progress. The second bird planned in the series of Florida bird murals at the Donna Fiala Wellness Center. Photo by Denise Santos

The burrowing owl, a work in progress. The second bird planned in the series of Florida bird murals at the Donna Fiala Wellness Center. Photo by Denise Santos

is known for her work in Marco Island and Goodland. She has an eye for color, a love of the creative process, and a brave willingness to try new and different projects.

Denise is also well known for her ongoing project of finding the “lost dolphins” of Marco Island and giving them a makeover. Fifteen years ago, 36 dolphin sculptures were designed by local artists and placed in various locations throughout the community. Over time they have become faded and worn. “It will take more than just a touch-up to bring them back to life again,” says Denise. She has completed the restoration of three dolphins, and is currently working on her fourth dolphin restoration. As in the restoration of the dolphins, Denise’s collection of handpainted Florida birds are labors of love.

For more information on Denise Santos’ artwork visit denisesantosdesigns.com.

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