Definitely not a junkyard dog
Faithful 'Pepper the poodle' is found at thrift shop,
reunited with Florida artist after more than 20 years

By Michael E. Abrams

Florida Wildflowers

Sopchoppy –  A happy discovery in a thrift shop has reunited a favorite dog and a Florida artist who loved him. Pepper the poodle was gone, but not forgotten.

“Pepper” was one of Edmond Revell Sr.’s favorite dogs – but Pepper suffered a fearful fate – his lovingly detailed and professionally- framed oil portrait had strayed to a shelf at a thrift shop.

  “I can’t believe somebody put that there,” said Revell, an easygoing Sopchoppy native and "pretty-much self-taught" Florida artist who has been painting for 60 years. He doesn’t remember how the painting left his hands, but more than 20 years have passed. He welcomed the old friend, and gave him a new coat of gloss.

The irresistible portrait of the poodle with the faithful eyes and wise disposition was purchased for a song at a Goodwill store by this writer who sometimes shops at thrift stores for sturdy frames for his photographs.

Such intense love and understanding in the eyes of a dog seemed to beg for some answers.

  A Google search of the signature led to phone call and a trip down to Sopchoppy, a historic river town about 45 minutes south of Tallahassee. Where a paved road ends, we shook hands with Revell at his Cricket Hill Studios, and met his wife Virginia Lucille, or "Ginger." They've been married for 42 years.

Reunited with his loyal dog, Revell  swiftly detached Pepper and sprayed him with gloss. He nailed the canvas back into the frame. He values the painting at $400, but much of his work is priced for double that or more.

  "I believe I painted this in the 80's," said Revell. "He was a poodle, rambunctious, full of mischief. He's got a good home now, so what the heck. At my age I don't worry about a lot of stuff like that."

Mrs. Revell was born in Madison, the fourth cousin of Capt. Colin Kelly, a courageous bomber pilot and early casualty of World War II whose monument is located in the town square. "I had never heard of Sopchoppy."

"When I first met him (Mr. Revell) I didn't know anything about art," she says. "He gave me a painting and I gave it away. I didn't realize that the painting meant a lot to him. It would have been valuable now." 

"Now I love it (painting). I can't do it myself, but it's interesting to see his artwork improve."

  Sopchoppy was small town compared to Madison. There were no paved roads.

"I was born in the house right across the field," says Edmond Revell. "My son's got it now."

He's painted the famous old schoolhouse in Sopchoppy where he remembers his teachers.  The school closed in 1959.

In a modular studio, his brush work catalogs much of North Florida’s scenery and some of its people. He's had a show at the FSU Museum of Fine Art, so people are aware of his talent.

A Florida artist with a memory

Edmond Revell has painted cowboys and Indians out west, Amish farmers, but mostly he's represented Florida the way it should be.

He captured the old B&W fruit stand on Monroe Steet 25 years go -  it's no longer there - with a stunning red awning and an old pickup truck in front. 

He's painted the wooden railroad station in Sopchoppy with a steam locomotive chugging by, old boats on stilts at Carabelle, two blue-jeaned fishermen in a boat, one telling a tall tale and another breaking out in laughter.  Look closely to see a small bream wiggling on a hook.

He’s used water colors but prefers acrylics. His impressionistic Florida scenes on his best days can hold their own with the work of some of the more well-known Florida artists.  His work brings out the life and color of tree, pond, cloud, sun and shadow.

When he began painting lessons, he painted on plywood and a lesson was 75 cents. His first set of oils cost $2.50 "and that was for the oils, the paintbrush and the cleaner."

Vietnam war veteran

 He has had four tours in the Navy, totalling 21 years, retiring at age 38. He recalls "the Lebanon crisis, the Dominican Republic crisis, and then we had Vietnam." Revell did some painting while he was in Vietnam. When the U.S. left Vietnam,  the rules said you couldn't take things out of the country, and so some of his artwork is lost forever. "They got confiscated coming back to the U.S.," he said.

After retirement, he went to work for the state road department, but found that he could make more money oystering - "more in one day than with the state for a month."

Then, he went into the shrimping business. At one point, they rented out their house and raised their kids on a houseboat. The couple eventually bought a trailer and travelled the United States. He painted native Americans out west, the Amish, and anything that caught his eye.

On their living room wall is a bucolic painting of the Sopchoppy River.

"That was the Sopchoppy River before people ruined it," said his wife. "You could actually go there swimming and fishing and have a good day. It's not like that now."

The Revell family enjoys westerns on TV and Mrs. Revell was watching an old Randolph Scott shoot 'em up.


           The old fruit market on Monroe Street in Tallahassee

      The train station in Sopchoppy with a steam engine on its way

          Two friends fishing on the river enjoy a good story

    Red sunset over a peaceful beach,  palms in North Florida

The way things used to be on the Sopchoppy river.

Revell has painted a picture of Lee Marvin as a cowboy in the movie "Cat Ballou." He remembers "in the old days" when  music came over the AM radio from Cincinnati on Saturday nights and you could tune it in, in Sopchoppy.  "In the old days,  all we got was country-western music," he said. "I like western but I don't like country very much."

 Revell sells many smaller versions of his paintings, and specializes in notecards. He can be reached at 850-962-2183 and the website for his studio is at

     Photos by M.E. Abrams; close up of poodle by Gerald Grow