Clewiston Artist Spotlight: Painting with Wild Abandon: Grace Woodward

CLEWISTON — Grace Woodward is an acrylic painter who creates giant, vivid, colorful landscapes with a contemporary flair. From classically beautiful beachfront sunsets to ominous scenes of dark and stormy clouds hovering over Lake Okeechobee, her creations are absolutely breathtaking.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Hopper
“Sugarcane Sunset,” a painting that will soon be abandoned in Clewiston, by Grace Woodward.

Ms. Woodward describes herself as the ultimate introvert. She said she always had a feeling of being socially awkward, and most of her art is hung along the walls of her modest home studio, hidden from the public eye. However, she hopes to one day be brave enough to exhibit her work in places like the Clewiston Museum and the Barron Park House Gallery.

Ms. Woodward grew up in Palmer, Alaska, as a homeschooler living on a self-sufficient Alaskan homestead. Her day-to-day routines, as a child, included feeding her dog sled team, milking the family cow and slopping the pig. These were all chores which were to be complete before first light. By sunrise she could be found in the loft of the barn, painting her own versions of the beautiful landscapes that surrounded her.

She went on to earn her bachelor of fine arts degree at Florida State University, falling in love with Florida, and eventually settling in Clewiston in 2003.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Hopper
“Woodstork Wallow”by Grace Woodward, painted plein air along State Road 80 in Clewiston.

She focuses on her artistic pursuits, while running a small hobby farm.

“There is so much beauty here. There are the burning sugar cane fields, sprawling pastures filled with cattle, and wildlife at every turn, not to mention the amazing sunsets and thunderstorms. There is no shortage of artistic inspiration,” she said.

Her abstract paintings, which often focus on rural ways of life, are inspired by the southern Florida landscape. When out of the studio, Ms. Woodward spends most of her free time fishing, hiking or biking. She’s rarely spotted without her faithful dog, Gator, whom she found abandoned along State Road 80. “He knocked over my easel one day, while I was plein (of or relating to painting in outdoor daylight) air painting a flock of wood storks that were gathered around a drainage ditch. It was love at first sight,” said Ms. Woodward.

Ms. Woodward spends hours on each painting, and surprisingly, she abandons them in public places for people to find. She says she hopes they bring joy to anyone who finds them, saying: “We all have our struggles, our own battles we have to face each day. I just hope my art finds people who might need a little mood booster, and it helps them feel a little lighter that day.”

She abandons about two paintings per week on average, and plans to put more out around town during the holidays. So, if you’re out and about in Clewiston, keep an eye out for her brilliant artwork and maybe you’ll find one.

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