Sep 21, 2023 - Culture

St. Petersburg painter Kayla Heintz adds twists of magic to Florida nature

A woman stands to the right of a table with paintings and prints of Florida nature scenes and animal and plant life.

St. Pete artist Kayla Heintz selling her work at a market. Photo: Courtesy of Kayla Heintz

St. Petersburg artist Kayla Heintz studied environmental science and biology in college, and it shows in her vibrant paintings of Florida landscapes, animals and plant life.

  • There's also a twist of the supernatural. In a painting of inner tubes floating down the Rainbow River, a flying saucer rises over the tree-lined bank, a yellow light beaming down from its base.

What's happening: Heintz, 32, has been a full-time artist in St. Petersburg for almost two years, working at markets around town and, in August, hosting her first solo exhibition at Coastal Creative titled, fittingly, "Nature, Nostalgia, and the Weird."

State of play: A Florida native born and raised in New Port Richey, Heintz painted and drew as a child but lost touch with her creative side after high school, she told Axios.

  • She picked it up again while she was a student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, doodling plants in her botany classes. A professor saw her talent in the drawings and encouraged her to keep going.
  • After a few years working for Hillsborough County's water department then for a startup with family members, she decided to take the plunge into full-time art.

The intrigue: Nature is Heintz's main inspiration, but she also brings in a childhood fascination with aliens, UFOs and all things supernatural.

What she's saying: "Adults have so much pressure to have it all together all the time, and I feel like we lose the magic and wonder we had when we were kids," Heintz told Axios.

  • "I want my art to make people see [that] magic in the world again."
A painting of the St. Pete Pier and St. Petersburg skyline at sunset with purple tentacles curling out of the water and a flying saucer hovering overhead with a light beaming down.
One of Heintz's paintings, showing the St. Pete Pier and St. Petersburg skyline with a twist of weird. Photo: Courtesy of Kayla Heintz
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