“Florida Beach,” by Nancy Tankersley, 2017, oil, 16 x 20 in. Grand Prize at the Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival in Florida

When Nancy Tankersley saw this scene, she felt like it captured the feel of Florida. The judge at the Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival agreed.

Tankersley’s piece “Florida Beach” won the Grand Prize. “I was pleased with the painting mainly because of the design, and I felt it captured the iconic image of Florida that I was hoping to portray,” says Tankersley. “I was on my way to a designated painting location when I spied that simple turquoise building with the tall palm trees rising behind it — just the shapes I was looking for! It was early in the morning and the parking lot was empty except for a few cars so I was able to pick my spot, set up quickly, and paint under the shade of my tailgate. Perfect conditions!”

George Van Hook was the judge for the event. He says he had narrowed down the entries to just four possibilities for the Grand Prize. And when he looked at Tankersley’s entry, he saw the depth of her knowledge and experience in the paint. “I’ve known Nancy for a long time,” says Van Hook. “Her work goes back to earlier types of painting, to all the movements that those of us 55 and above experienced. It has very strong Diebenkorn influence, with strong lines and an abstract feeling to it.

“But it wasn’t just the paint handling — her piece absolutely captured the brilliant, blinding light of South Florida. I recognized that not only was she painting a picture, but bringing a lifetime of what she has learned in the art world into one small painting, and that’s what lifted that piece above the others.”

It truly was a painter’s painting. “Other artists came up to me came up and said, ‘That was a great choice,’” Van Hook recalls. “Non-artists asked, ‘Why did you pick that?’

“My buddy Jim McVicker and I drove by that same spot and saw that, and I can’t believe how she transmogrified that into a great painting.”

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