International artist likes teaching on Goodland

Scott H. Shook

Artist Dee Beard Dean looks out across the bay in front of the Little Bar on Goodland and sees nothing but potential as she moves from student to student making suggestions.

“I love teaching here, it’s a wonderful spot,” Dean said, as her eyes scan the scene in front of her. “You have boats, you have water, you have the little buildings, the little boat houses, beautiful little docks. It just has everything and anything you want to paint as an artist. It’s a favorite place for me.”

Dean, who lives in Charleston, S.C., was on the island Monday to teach a workshop through the Marco Island Center for the Arts.

“I drive down from Charleston to do the workshops,” Dean said. “We have people fly in from around the country for the workshops. We usually have 8-10 people. Every year we have different people. I just enjoy teaching here so much. You can see how beautiful it is. The light on the water. It’s just got everything. And we can eat lunch here. Great lunch, great lunch."

Today she has eight students behind easels along the skinny seawall in front of the iconic Goodland restaurant. A parade of restaurant-goers snake their way along the seawall to see how the students are doing. The students seem to enjoy interacting with them.

One student, Mary Moran of Naples, an experienced painter herself, appreciates the opportunity to work with Dean.

“She does beautiful work,” Moran said of Dean’s painting. “But she’s also a good teacher.”

“I painted here 20 years ago on my own,” Dean said. “Fifteen years ago I was asked to have a show at the art center. Then I was asked to teach four years ago. So I’ve been back every year.”

Dean enjoys painting—and teaching—en plein air, which means in the open air. She gives workshops internationally.

“I teach workshops in Italy and France, San Miquel de Allende in Mexico and in Panama. I’ll be painting in the gardens of Provence, France in September.

“The artist’s life is pretty exciting when you’re an instructor and you teach en plein air painting,” she said. “En plein air painting was discovered by the impressionists at the turn of the century. They discovered that light is different in the morning than it is in the afternoon. That’s why Monet painted the haystacks so many times. He painted them in the morning, then he’d paint them in the afternoon. He discovered that light was very different.

“We see far more with two human eyes than a camera can ever see,” she said. “We learn to paint better that way.”

Dean thinks Goodland ranks with the most beautiful places to paint.

“There’s a lot of beautiful places in this country to paint,” Dean said. “But this is just one I happen to have discovered. I think it’s quite lovely because it does have everything.”

More information

For more about Dee Beard Dean, whose work includes portraits, en plein air, landscapes, figurative and abstracts, go to A book about her art, “Dee Beard Dean, A Painter by Providence,” by Michelle Morton, is available on her website.