By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- To some people, a building is just a structure with walls, doors and windows, but to Ellen Rantz, buildings are characters that are worth remembering, so she immortalizes them in pen and ink.
Mrs. Rantz, known professionally as E. Marie Francis, is an artist living in Vero Lake Estates, but she has let the creative winds blow her to Fellsmere and Sebastian where she has sketched and drawn several buildings.
"When you're drawing these places, it brings back all the memories you have of that place," Mrs. Rantz said.
Mrs. Rantz is currently working on a sketch of the yellow Spanish-style house on County Road 512 on the way into Fellsmere and she would like to start sketching the Catholic Church building, Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, but she has completed pen and ink drawings of historic buildings, such as the Marian Fell Library and the Marsh Landing restaurant.
"I was also commissioned to do the church across from Marsh Landing and the historic Fellsmere train station, which I did from a photograph. I also did Squidly's Books and the Victorian Lady in Sebastian," Mrs. Rantz said.
Simple vertical, horizontal or diagonal strokes, combined with tiny dots and circles all come together to recreate familiar structures on medium bristol paper.
"The best part about pen and ink is that you can take it with you wherever you go," Mrs. Rantz said.
A lifelong artist, Mrs. Rantz has a house full of art, some are her own pieces, while others belong to her husband, fellow artist and wood worker, Carl Rantz.
Mrs. Rantz moved to Indian River County permanently in 2005 after visiting for several years, but changing addresses didn't change her passion for art.
In Massachusetts, Mrs. Rantz was an elementary school art teacher for 25 years and she continued teaching with a position as an art teacher at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.
In addition to pen and ink, Mrs. Rantz also works with acrylics and a technique called reverse painting on glass.
Today when she is not working on her own art, she spends time at The Foyer Art Gallery at the Emerson Center in Vero Beach where she is the director.
Over the years she has participated in dozens of regional and national artist competitions.
At the local level, she will be turning in a re-purposed object as an entry to the Thrift to Treasures auction, a benefit for A Second Chance Thrift Store and Training Center in Vero Beach.
Mrs. Rantz's sketches of notable Fellsmere locations are available to purchase on postcards at Ditch 13 Gallery and Gifts in downtown Fellsmere.