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A Summer to Create

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Claiming a history of at least 75 years in Hernando County, the Nature Coast Art League is kicking off the summer season with an exciting of events and activities. All of them intended to realize the NCAL mission, “to promote the visual arts in Hernando County and to encourage and support local artists. We do this by encouraging and supporting artists through educational programs for the continued development of their talents and skills.”

As regular meetings pause for the summer, members will convene for the Summer Create Along events, at which members will paint, draw or create something beautiful. “We all inspire one another!” read an event notice. 

The Nature Coast Art League celebrates their Summer Create Along events on Monday mornings from 9:00 am until 11:30 am. The Nature Coast Art League meets at the Weeki Wachee Senior Center, located at 3357 Susan Drive, Spring Hill. Guests are invited and welcome to attend 2 times before becoming a member of NCAL and a $1 admission is requested for all who attend. 

Newly inducted NCAL president Linda Graves intends the Summer Create Along events to be a welcoming creative forum for artists in all media. 

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“Artists are asked to bring any materials they are accustomed to using watercolors, acrylic, pen and ink, oils, etc. and a table cloth to keep their area clean,” said Graves. “We welcome any artist who would like to join us.  Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you are invited to check us out. As our guest you are invited to attend twice and then asked if you would like to become a member. Starting in September our monthly meetings will include various demonstrations and workshops provided by skilled artists that emerged from our group.”

Members also will stay connected through an active NCAL Facebook group. “Our artists are able to connect with one another and post their artwork. They also receive comments from the other members about it. The site is also used to announce activities they may want to attend,” said Graves.

Graves, newly minted president of the Nature Coast Art League, brings a great deal of league experience to the office of president. “In September of 2020 I became Vice President, and in May of this year I was nominated as President,” she said. “However, I have been a member of Nature Coast Art League for many years, at that time it was known as the Spring Hill Art League.”   

She also brings a rich artistic portfolio to her new role. “Since childhood I have always loved to draw and would doodle whenever I had a chance. My notebooks would have my drawings surrounding the ‘more important’ educational material that I was learning. When exploring career choices there was no question about it.  I would make art my career,” she said. “This is where my passion led me. Unfortunately I had an art teacher in high school that discouraged any possibility of my success and asked if I really wanted to be a ‘starving artist.’  Unfortunately I listened rather than following my dream.”

Yet Graves never abandoned the idea of becoming an artist. “I have experimented with a variety of media however presently I enjoy working in watercolor.  My artwork is typically whimsical which has emerged over the years.  Most of my artwork tells a story that only the viewer can imagine,” she said. “Like the old expression says ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ however the words are all different to whomever is viewing the painting.”

Graves is joined on the council by a board that includes: 


President: Linda Graves

Vice President: Anastasia Stavropoulos

Secretary: Lyn Bechtel  

Corresponding Secretary: Lois Biggins  

Treasurer: Bonnie Young  

Asst. Treasurer:  Joan Annicchiarico

Past President: Carol Babicz


Mary Ellen Caesar, Richard Deso, Jana Withers


Facebook Administrators: Yolanda Barreto, Karen Heidler  & Jana Withers

Programs: Diane Becker

Membership: Joan Annicchiarico

Publicity: Esther Pohl

Artist of the Month: Yolanda Barreto

Create Along: Lois Biggins & Linda Graves

Sunshine: Anastasia Stavropoulos

Phone Tree: Richard Deso  

(Information provided by Karen Heidler, graphic designer and volunteer for NCAL.)    

“Our board and fellow members are the heartbeat of NCAL. They are all very special and have hung in there during this terrible pandemic! Without the support of all of them I am afraid we wouldn’t see the comeback we are experiencing,” Graves said. Arising like a phoenix from the ashes of a global pandemic, the artists of NCAL are back to create and to spread their art and spirit across Hernando County.

“Covid stopped many agencies and businesses in their tracks.  Most of us were isolated and many endured hardships leaving them with a future that was bleak. Many artists lost their desire to paint and some still haven’t touched a brush,” said Graves. “I want to bring back that enthusiasm that was lost and stir up the gift that is in them. Instill hope for the future and a desire to create. I believe people are ready to come out of their homes and socialize again. NCAL gives artists that opportunity. I will also bring with me over 40 years of experience working for not for profit agencies therefore I am knowledgeable about many aspects of management making my position a lot easier.”  

Graves said that the board is meeting throughout the summer and exploring various venues through which to display their art work. And in the meantime, the group is having fun with art. “We have recently started a challenge project.  Each participant may be given a word or an emotion and will be asked to create something that depicts it. It may be a splotch of color painted across a watercolor board and each participant would paint on it accordingly. It is great fun,” said Graves. 

Ultimately, Graves says that the league is devoted to its mission to promote the visual arts throughout Hernando. “Our board works diligently to promote visual arts in our community.  This comes with a price however which means there are times where they have to put their own artwork to the side and concentrate on the business at hand,” said the new president of the Nature Coast Art League. “If I could have my dream I would love to have a board retreat where business was left for another day and they would have the time to do what they love most: create!”

NCAL Annual Membership is a Single Membership is $30; a Couples Membership is $40. A check for membership may be mailed to Nature Coast Art League, PO Box 6284, Spring Hill, FL 34611. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/NatureCoastArtLeague/.

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