By Tara O’Neill
(Don’t blame me, the title wrote itself)
Lee Horton is the newest artist to join the Artist Colony at the Esplanade. I first met him professionally as past participants in Leadership Marco’s annual Wet Paint Live! Scholarship fundraiser, but, until we met again last week, I had no idea how varied were his talents, nor how impressive his background.
You’ll find Lee a relaxed and easy-going guy to chat with. So, when he casually drops bombs about his years as writer/illustrator for Hallmark and American Greeting card companies, you can’t help but do a double-take, then scramble to catch up with the conversation still in play: “…when I was studying with my friend, Bob Fagan.” That would be Bob Fagan the watercolor instructor on PBS television.
These days Lee runs his own (and quite successful) commercial photography business – portraits,special events, real estate/interiors which segue sweetly into his artistic photographs. A trip to his website revealed a tenderness for subject in both genres, creating a very intimate viewing experience. It will be rewarding to see the real deal hanging on real walls.
Then there are the watercolors. Oh my! Delightfully brave use of color and sophisticated compositions make for perfectly original interpretations in this make-no-mistakes-medium. Lee prefers painting on location, and that freshness certainly comes through in the final images.
What has many of us waiting with bated breath is the arrival of his etching press, which Lee describes as a work of art in itself. Traditional metal-plate etching is a rare and elegant marriage of art and science. Definitely a make-no-mistakes-method.
Interestingly, with all these irons in the fire, Lee has plans for more. “With all this new space,” he explains,“I’ll have room to further explore acrylic and mixed-media projects.”
A bit of tongue-in-cheek, I asked him what he does in his free time. Not missing a beat he tells me that’s devoted to playing mediocre golf. I’m guessing no time for practice.
What? You haven’t had enough? Lee and his brother Dave are the creators of Hortoons, a whimsical comic strip that appears regularly in Island Sun News (Sanibel) and Coastal Breeze News (yep, right here!)
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. Contact her through www.taraogallery.com