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Vibrant Interpretations: Artist Carol McArdle Brings Natural Beauty to Life

Apr 20, 2022 08:38AM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELAN

Carol McArdle has an uncanny ability to capture realism and embellish it with brilliant blues, stunning pinks, and gorgeous greens. She brings Florida’s shoreline, wildlife, birds, and sea creatures to life using oils and acrylics. For reference, McArdle works off photographs that she has taken in state and national parks, preserves, beaches, and other natural areas. She then transforms the real-life images into paintings that capture the essence of her subjects. 

Born in Jamaica and raised in Bristol, England, McArdle, who bills herself as “The Florida Artist,” always dreamed of moving back to a tropical paradise. In 1995, she came to Southwest Florida and thrived in her new environment. “As I found myself surrounded by the saturated colors of tropical vibrancy and the diverse ecosystems unique to Florida, my creative interest grew,” says McArdle, who is just as motivated to study her subjects as she is to re-create them on canvas.  

McArdle first researches the subjects, then captures them with her camera. Next, she carefully plans her compositions and slowly brings them to life in her studio. Multiple reference photographs are used for each composition to add dimension and perspective.  

She loves beach scenes, with their sea grapes and mangrove trees, but, unfortunately, some of her most beloved areas have been altered by erosion or development. McArdle can still paint her favorite scenes even if they no longer exist as they have been captured in her photographs. “I can recall the location depicted in every painting of the local scenery and am happy when others also recognize the location,” adds McArdle.  

When she began her Natural Florida series, she focused on scenery, but soon the beauty of the shorebirds intruded. She then began painting the birds, and they became a subject in their own right. McArdle’s bird paintings have been nationally recognized and are greatly sought after. One of her favorites, the roseate spoonbill, stands out with its gorgeous pink feathers and confident poses. She has painted a series of green turtles more recently using her own photography for reference. 

McArdle sells original works and custom-ordered giclee prints of all her works. Many of the giclees are hand embellished, making them a cross between an original and a print. The giclee prints are stretched on canvas like an original. They look so much like the original work, capturing both color and depth, that people usually cannot tell the difference. High resolution allows the prints to be very large. A 20-inch original painting can become a 60-inch print. This means her work is often highly suited to the expansive walls that can be found in large homes or commercial spaces. 

McArdle’s work has been shown in galleries, but she now sells directly to customers who love the tropical atmosphere of Southwest Florida as much as she does. 


Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media. 



Carol McArdle