Art meets preservation: Cottages on Indian Rocks Beach

- On Indian Rocks Beach, you might see three women painting beautiful pictures, but they're not scenes of the beach.

They're creating paintings of some special little houses.

Jessica Binnie and her husband Matt bought one of the cottages about a month ago.

"My favorite part is sitting here in the morning having coffee and having this view," said Jessica.

Her's and other small cottages here have survived and so has the view.

"They walk down the road and they can see the gulf. It's not like the great wall of Florida," said Mary Rose Holmes.

That's what she calls the tall condos that line other beaches.

Holmes and two friends are armed with paintbrushes to fight the trend. They're called the Plein Aire Cottage Artists.  

Plein Aire means that they paint outside.

They've created more than 150 paintings of local cottages.

"We may paint the same cottage again, but on a different day, the sky is different. Once you start painting outdoors, you can't go back to the studio," said Helen Tilston, who paints with Holmes and Violetta Chandler.

They're helped convince the city not to grant the variances required for big condos to replace the little, old cottages.

"We don't see many cottages getting torn down. What we see is people fixing up their cottages and painting them," said Holmes.

They've been painting cottages for 18 years with no plans to stop.

"It's just to connect with old Florida," said Chandler, "Just the simplicity of it."

The Binnie's hope more people will buy and preserve cottages. On this beach, big dreams come in little cottages.

Tampa filmmaker Lynn Marvin Dingfelder has made a documentary on the Plein Air Cottage Artists called "Save Our Cottages: Artists With A Cause." 

It premieres November 16 at The Largo Cultural Center. for more information visit

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