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Pages of paradise: Famed local artist releases new book

November 9, 2012
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Recently returning home from his summer residence in Cleveland, Ohio, famed artist Craig Petersen is eager to boast his latest collection of tropical landscapes and watercolor masterpieces, comprised into a lovely, full-color coffee table book titled "Florida Memories" highlighting the lifestyles and landscapes of beautiful Southwest Florida and the "characters" that live within them.

"I'm so proud to say, with the help of my beautiful wife, Joy, I was able to come out with a coffee table book that has more than 50 of my paintings in it," the artist eagerly boasted. "The first half of the book contains the beautiful scenery of the local area, and the second half is more of the characters on the waterfront and musicians abound. It's been so fun to put together."

Most of Craig's original watercolors may also currently be viewed at Ding Darling's National Wildlife Refuge Center, during the artist's showcase in the science center, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, with free admission to everyone.

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Famed local artist Craig Petersen is eager to share his new coffee table book, titled “Florida Memories,” comprised of nearly 50 brightly colored watercolor images of our local scenery and the characters that dwell within it. An exhibit of his original work is currently on display at Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve through Dec. 31.

"I spent almost the entire summer and my retirement fund framing all of the originals for the wildlife refuge gallery, and it really is a lovely exhibit," he said.

The Indian Creek winter resident is proud to now offer several of the paintings that may be viewed at Ding Darling in one simple and easy package his new book.

"Everybody that has seen my artwork gives the pieces such nice reviews and as individual prints start at $45 I thought if we put a book together with everything in it, for the same price as one print $45, you have everything in one shot," he stated. "Of course, if they'd like it, I'd sign the book. And, having just returned to Fort Myers Beach and setting up at Ding Darling, it's been received so well. I'd love to do a book signing at Bonita Bill's one afternoon, too."

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Bonita Bill's is one of Craig's and Joy's favorite hang-out spots along Fort Myers Beach. This is where he was first inspired to paint many of the "characters" you can see in his collection from Kirby and Shelli to Pete, Danny North, Space Ghost and so many more.

The approximately 40-page, 8-by-12-inch book contains more than 50 images of Craig's fantastic work, including about 20 images of his local "characters"?collection, retails for $45, and may be purchased online at and

More about Craig Petersen

Fact Box

The artwork of Craig Petersen


What: An array of original watercolor paintings, created by the local artist, that showcases the natural beauty of Southwest Florida

When: Nov. 1 through Dec. 31

Where: 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel Island

Cost: Free admission

More info: Visit

Since 1980, Craig Petersen was able to work professionally in his craft, teaching, running workshops, creating greeting cards, commissioned calendars and other creative pieces.

"I've been very lucky to create art professionally for so long," he said. "Before that, I studied for 10 years under well-known artist Fred Leech, while still a part of my family's coffee business."

Craig was humbled when he was asked to showcase his work for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland a few years back, and starting about six years ago, he began to paint the beach life that he had come to love so much while visiting.

"I started my beach paintings about six or seven years ago with beach scenes and 'the Characters of Bonita Bill's,'" he said. "As soon as I first came down here, I fell in love with the area and the tropical surroundings."

Now officially retired, Craig still enjoys painting area attractions and local "characters," capturing realistic and detailed subjects in their natural state, utilizing primarily watercolor and acrylic paints.

"I want to make my paintings, so, when someone were to look at them 100 years later, that's exactly what those subjects looked like 100 years earlier," he said.

For more information on the local artist, visit and



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