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Muralist Turns Garage Screens Into Art

Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 6, 2013 at 05:48 PM

LAKE PLACID - While Lake Placid is known as The Town of Murals, the idea to create larger than life art is catching on in other parts of the county.

Tomoka Heights and the Harder Hall neighborhood are just two places where artist James Strickland created more than 20 murals.

With an airbrush and the same type paint used on cars, Strickland works directly on semi-transparent screened garage doors.

Strickland's paintings of manatees, birds, a leaping largemouth bass, mountains and sunsets (or sunsets) catch the eye of the passersby.

Strickland said that until most art patrons see his work, they are satisfied with a simple representation of a palm tree.

"Most people are afraid to ask for anything else because they've only seen palms," said the 30-year-old on Wednesday. "Everything is different. No two murals are alike."

John and Syble Zembo, of Tomoka Heights, asked during the airbrushing process to have a sunset "calmed down a bit," while Jean Morrone was pleased to have the former Lake Placid High School student recreate and enlarge a painting first made by her late husband Nick.

"I wanted something different," said Jean Morrone. "It is a remembrance. I hear nothing but compliments from neighbors."

Strickland paints on screen from ideas created in his head, though sometimes sketched on paper, but not on the painted surface.

Spray paint presents a flatter look, while the final product using conventional brushed paint has lines. Strickland's airbrushed murals were prepared with several layers with a single base color painted first.

What at first looks like a mess, is then given an airbrushed outline and highlights last, said Strickland. The process is ongoing with elements added or taken away until the final coat of paint dries.

The garage screen murals take a day to paint and Strickland charges from $75 to $150 for each work of art.

"I love the challenge and to create," said Strickland. "I love to see it when it comes together."
Strickland works for JS Arts Custom Airbrushing. He also paints autos, wall murals, homes and businesses by airbrush.

The artist repainted several of Lake Placid's distinctive trash cans for the Lake Placid Mural Society.
Mural Society members Harriet and Bob Porter helped start the Lake Placid Mural Society.

Bob Porter talked about the effect of Stickland's work on the neighborhood.

"You walk down this street and what are you going to remember?" said Bob Porter.

Harriet and Bob Porter viewed the garage door murals for the first time on Wednesday.

"You look at it every time you pass it," said Harriet Porter.

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