Reading Palms: Palm Art by Sue Jernigan

Reading Palms: Palm Art by Sue Jernigan

Palm artist Sue Jernigan reads palm fronds for a living. After deciding what animal she’d like to paint, Jernigan examines her collection of fallen fronds to find a good fit. When she’s found just the right one, she cuts for thickness, size and weight to form her newest creature creation.

However, before the first brush stroke of a vibrant hue is made, Jernigan also washes, dries, sands the edges, and sprays a clear gloss acrylic on the surface of the fond.

“I also spray the back of the design and add two screws to hold the weight of the frond, and add copper wire for hanging,” Jernigan says.

Her creations are mainly brightly colored animals painted with acrylics. They make excellent subjects for the natural canvas.

Having grown up mostly in old Miami, Jernigan finds inspiration in all things tropical and related to the sun and sand.

“I was always admiring the sunrises and wished that I could paint God’s beautiful creations,” Jernigan says.

But the native Floridian wasn’t always an artist; in fact, she fell into this line of work quite by accident — a literal accident.

“In the summer of 2013 I was in a car accident with my grandson by no fault of my own,” Jernigan says. “I was recuperating from those injuries and eventually became very ill. I struggled with the solitude and down time, as I was always very active.”

With no experience whatsoever, the former medical field employee decided to try her hand at painting.

“I was excited about this challenge and it was also very scary,” she says. “I particularly love the Florida rich tropical plants and decided that the palm fronds are so plentiful in Florida, so they would be a great canvas.”

The mother of four started experimenting with acrylic colors and found that each palm frond sparked her imagination and creativity.

“Every frond is unique and tells a story,” Jernigan says. She credits her family with supporting her through her recovery, and painting adventures.

“I have learned through my experiences that things happen for a reason and other doors open up,” she says. “Now I finally have time in my life to get back on my feet and go to art classes with the guidance of Darlene Melius, my art teacher.”

Jernigan dedicates her artwork to two of her children, Jessica and Joel, whom she lost in a in a boat accident in Thailand. She signs her artwork as “sjj” in their memory.

All of Jernigan’s painted fronds are finished with clear gloss acrylic and can be displayed indoors or outdoors. The finished pieces are sold at farmers markets and several local shops. Jernigan also does custom orders.

For more information contact Sue Jernigan at 863-585-1435 or email