Artist’s work reveals changes in springs

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Margaret Ross Tolbert first began painting the springs of Florida more than 25 years ago.  Prompted by a gallery director who wanted some Florida landscapes, Tolbert traveled to Blue Springs in Gilchrist County and painted the first of what would become an ongoing affair with capturing the essence of Florida springs. “It’s just unbelievable that, as a human, you can experience something like that,” Tolbert said from her Gainesville home and studio Thursday afternoon. Her paintings, sometimes measuring 11 feet across, are meant to bring the viewer into the space, she said.  They are rendered in broad swaths of blues and greens, sometimes suggesting the surface of the water with its play of reflections, other times revealing the sun-lit mouth of a watery cavern. “It’s all about the viewer entering the springs,” she said.  “That’s what paintings do, they postulate a different world, and you want to go there.  I like the idea of captivating people.” Not long after she began exploring springs as a subject, she discovered Manatee and Fanning springs.

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