BROOKSVILLE — Gina Fote isn’t interested in painting sunrises or seascapes. It doesn’t do anything for her.
“Art is supposed to provoke you and make you feel things and think things,” Fote said recently, looking out over her backyard that extends back 17 acres, east of Brooksville. “Don’t you want to look at something and it speaks to you?”
Fote, 27, is a St. Petersburg native who moved to Brooksville three years ago. She lives with her boyfriend, two horses, a pig and other animals in the Spring Lake area. They raise tilapia, cultivate an organic garden and aspire to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Her home is her studio — for now — where she paints, creates in other mediums and fashions jewelry out of repurposed, vintage parts.
“I’ve been more productive as an artist here,” Fote said. “I’ve found that quiet, that peace. It’s just more pure here. I’m not distracted by the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Fote recently has shown her work at Art in the Park and the Florida Blueberry Festival, where she said judges were impressed with how she paints eyes. And though she did not receive an award, she was among final contenders in the juried show.
Fote said she is “testing the waters” this year and plans to hit the art circuit hard in 2015.
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As a self-taught artist from a family of creative people, Fote said she become serious about her painting in the last year or so. Working as a server and bartender wasn’t what she ultimately wanted, and Fote realized she needed to begin devoting more time to art — and finding a way to pay the bills.
That’s when she decided to give her talents a shot and realized that becoming a tattoo artist would help her continue to create — and free up time to paint.
Fote apprenticed and has been tattooing professionally for the past year and a half.
“My painting helps makes the tattoos more interesting; more dynamic, composition-wise,” Fote said, adding people today want tattoos that are more realistic and look more like paintings.
“It really has turned into art on the body,” Fote said.
And while Fote feels living in Brooksville has opened her up creatively, she’s hoping her hometown will become a more open space for artists — transcending age, style and experience.
She doesn’t know why there are not more people like her. “Is it a lack of artists, or are they too afraid of how people are going to perceive it?” Fote said.
Much like the way St. Petersburg has exploded with galleries during the past decade, Fote envisions Brooksville as a more diverse community where artists can showcase their work. “It (Brooksville) needs to be its’ own entity,” Fote said.
And she is ready to do her part. Eventually, Fote would like to open a gallery somewhere in Hernando County, a space where she can host shows and offer classes for existing artists and anyone else interested in flexing their creativity.
“If you do what you love, you will be taken care of, somehow,” Fote said. “It took a while to accept that thought, and it may take a few years of ramen noodles, but it’s worth it.”