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January 24, 2018

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Four artists. Four canvases. And two hours to create four combined works of art.

The annual Fort Myers Beach Art Association Paint-Around is an art event like you've never seen.

Because of the popularity of last year's event, this year's will be ticketed - so make sure to reserve a spot early.

This year's Paint-Around is set for Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m.at the association's gallery, 3030 Shell Mound Boulevard.

Tickets are $10 at the gallery, but can be purchased in advance online for a 10 percent discount at fortmyersbeachart.com.

The paint-around pairs up four artists, who are tasked with creating four paintings by rotating every 15 minutes to each canvas. Each artists starts a painting based on a photo or sketch they have, and in the end, every artist has to mesh their style to their fellow painters to make the paintings work.

When the evening comes to a close, the artists have, together, created four works of art.

It's a fast-paced, high-energy evening of fine art and fun.

"Last year we were close to building capacity so get your tickets early to make sure you see this amazing event," said Pam Flaherty, association spokeswoman.

The ticket sales will act as a fundraiser for the association's senior scholarships. During the event, there will also be a silent auction table and prize raffles.

This year's award-winning artists are Tracey Owen-Cullimore, Lisa Grinter, Neil Walling and Michele Barron Buelow.

Owen-Cullimore is an oil and watercolor artist, a Fort Myers resident from California and Texas. She said she's done a contest similar to the paint-around, but with a slightly different process.

Her style is "impressionistic realism," and typically she paints people and figures, usually using models.

"It's a fun way to bring people in to experience art and fundraise for scholarships," she said. The challenge for her will be "to express yourself in a painting, but pull together other's interpretations and get on board with other's direction."

Grinter is a long-time member of the art association since 1981 and a long-time artist. Before retiring, she was an art teacher, and she still teaches workshops for her neighborhood community center and at her church. Grinter describes her style as "creative naturalism" and typically works with acrylics and oils creating local landscapes.

"My challenge will be doing something figurative, that's way out of my experience," she said.

Walling spent his professional career designing cars. For 33 years, he helped create new looks for Chrysler show cars like Vipers and Prowlers. Now, the Michigan native and author has put his creative talents into fine art. Walling uses watercolor and oils in an impressionistic style, but said lately he's begun to dabble in the abstract. He's also joined the plein air painting style, learning to adapt to the elements to create his artwork.

Walling said his best strategy for the paint-around will be to go with the flow.

"When it gets back to you, it's not the same painting," he said. "You take it for what it is when you receive it. It will have your stamp."

Buelow is another Michiganite association member who's delved into the plein air realm. It was plein air that brought her to the association in 1999.

Unlike her three colleagues, Buelow is primarily an abstract artist who uses pastels to create impressionistic realism.

"I'll have to use oils for the paint-around. I'll be stretching myself," she said. "It's similar, but the brush is between me and the paper. With pastels, it's just me."

The paint-around breaks an art taboo: touching another artist's canvas.

"I've walked out of classes for people painting on my painting," Buelow said. "You're taught not to touch other's paintings. Here, we become one artist."

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