Florida Scenics Blog- The art of Sharon Osterholt

The Florida State Park Plein Air Painting Tour – Painting each of Florida's State Parks on location

Park #131 – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

We decided to take a week during Thanksgiving to visit the State Parks in the Florida Keys and finish out my Florida State Park Plein Air Tour. Just 10 more paintings to go!

On our way down, we were following a stormy cold front. Our timing of the drive from Orlando to Miami was perfect as ahead of us were dark clouds and we missed driving through much of the rain. Later we heard that there were tornado warnings that day!

The first stop on highway one in Key Largo was John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. We had a few hours of daylight left, so I thought I’d try painting the park.

Exploring the park I found this small beach with tall coconut palms. I set up my easel to paint and Rick drove off to try fishing on the other side of the bay.

The afternoon light was golden and glowing on the palms. I was enjoying the view and painting away, then I felt a rain drop, then another, and another! I thought it would be just a passing light shower so I carried my easel over to an overhanging branch to be out of the sprinkles. Then the sprinkles gave way to a downpour! Rick and our car was nowhere around, so I had to make a run for it and dashed with my gear to a restroom pavilion. I got soaked, but my closed easel protected the painting!

After the rain, I went back to my spot under the palms, but the light was flat with the overhead clouds. I finished up the painting from memory and we headed to our hotel.

The next morning we drove back to the park to try another painting. This time the front was gone, but it left behind 20 mph winds, with 30 mph gusts! Wind is not a plein air painter’s friend –  it can blow down the easel and even blow the brush in your hand!

All of the diving and snorkeling tours to the reef, and the glass bottom boats were canceled due to the wind. Amazingly the kayak rentals were open. We thought we’d get out of the wind back in the mangroves – but it was still just too strong! Rick did manage to catch a few barracuda – and I was able to take a picture of his fish holding the camera back handed over my head!

For more information about this park, visit their website


Pennecamp Palms – 8×10″ oil on linen panel

2 comments on “Park #131 – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

  1. marge drew
    December 14, 2015

    Awesome painting!! Fantastic photos.  I love the looks ofthis park.. Sure hope one day that I can go there.  Thanksfor sharing all of your hard but fun work..esp given  the weatherconditions..   Margé

  2. FlaScenics
    December 14, 2015

    Thanks Margé! The keys were a nice place to visit, but such a long drive! you have many wonderful beautiful places near you too!

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