NEW TAMPA – As far back as Mary Ellen Curran Bitner can remember there has been a creative side to her character.
As a youngster she channeled it toward the performing arts, primarily music.
“I also was always making things,” said Bitner, who taught herself how to draw and paint as well.
However, during those years, whenever she could find some spare moments – in between planning school lessons and raising two children – she spent it with a paint brush in hand.
During her summer breaks she also dabbled in painting but it wasn’t until after she relinquished her role as a teacher that she decided to further nurture her skills by taking an art course at Hillsborough Community College.
“Painting has really been the light of my life,” said Bitner, who ranks it as her second favorite pastime, behind spending time with her two grandchildren.
Craving all things related to art, Bitner founded the New Tampa Arts League in 2006, and helped grow it to a group of about 70 artists.
She also instituted the Artist of the Month practice at the New Tampa Regional Library, 1001 Cross Creek Blvd., in which one NTAL artist each month is selected to display his or her work.
Bitner, a Tampa Palms resident and past president of the group, was chosen as September’s Artist of the Month, an honor she’s experienced in years past.
Her creations consist of landscapes, still life, floral, traditional, contemporary and abstract, an art form of which she is especially fond. Pastels are her medium of choice because she likes the vibrancy of their colors.
Bitner is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, a recent designation she noted was done through an election process. And her abstract pastel, “Symphony to an Unruly Child” was juried into the 40th annual Pastel Society of America Exhibition titled Enduring Brilliance held at the National Arts Club in New York City.
Her award-winning work has been shown and juried in galleries throughout Alabama and Florida, including the Sound FX Show at the Tampa Museum of Art. Her paintings also have been sold locally, nationally and internationally.
“When I paint, I become a part of another world where time stands still and music flows through my consciousness,” Bitner said.
To see more of her artwork visit www.marycurranbitnerart.com.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.