One of Carla LeFleur’s favorite places to be is in front of her easel with a paintbrush in hand and a palette of watercolors and acrylics. When she moved to Mease Life nearly two years ago, she opted for a two-bedroom apartment to convert one of the rooms into an art studio — a special light-filled place where she basks in the serenity of her view overlooking Dunedin.

LeFleur’s specialty is contemporary, large-scale canvases of seabirds, from pelicans majestically perched to colorful flamingos showcasing their beauty to snowy egrets resting their immaculate feathers. And with Dunedin being a stunning coastal city, it’s easy for her to find seabird inspiration with walkable access to downtown and the water. Lafayette & Rushford Home loved her artwork so much, the downtown shop has a number of her paintings for sale.

LeFleur is grateful her artwork can be found in people’s homes, and that painting has brought her so much peace and joy. “It’s a stabilizer, especially in the times we’re in right now,” LeFleur says. “It keeps you going, and it’s just something that relaxes me and is great for the mind. I thoroughly enjoy it and wish I would have started earlier. It’s been a salvation for me, actually.”

Ten years ago, LeFleur faced a difficult time in her life when she lost some close family members, as well as her dog and cat, all within a year and a half. The creative expression of painting was the solace — the “Godsend” — she needed for a grieving heart. When she moved into Mease Life, she discovered a revived passion for painting all over again.

“It’s such a pleasant place, and I’m lucky to be here,” LeFleur says. “Everyone is very nice, and if you need anything, they are right there to help you, like helping me with hanging and rearranging in my studio. I feel safe, secure, and happy here.”