From Destin to Apalachicola

November 1, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Oil painting of the food vendors and festival-goers at Destin Festival of the Arts, 2015When I take an art workshop, it provides a wonderful break from the full-time management of my pool service business and an opportunity to fully immerse myself in my art. I counted this week as a 6-day vacation, first participating in the two-day Destin Festival of the Arts (Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation) on Saturday and Sunday, then attending a Bill Farnsworth workshop through the Apalachicola School of Art Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and finally, painting with Mary Erickson on Thursday.

IMG_9627-2The Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters had a booth in the Destin Festival of the Arts, with 6 painters representing the group. I enjoyed interacting with the festival-goers, talking to the other artists in our booth, and plein air painting one morning. A lot of work goes into a festival booth. Marian Pacsuta and her husband erected the tent, so it was fully assembled with ProPanels and wind-weights already in place by the time the rest of us arrived to hang our art on the curtain hooks Marian provided. She had a small table set up, covered to the ground with black spandex cloth. I had made some flyers explaining our group, and some group business cards the day before, so those were on the table along with artists’ business cards and a clipboard for folks to sign who wanted to receive the weekly notifications of our painting locations. To make sure the booth was manned at all times, I had scheduled the 6 participating artists and two additional artists helping, in two- and three-person shifts throughout the festival. At the end of the second day, we all converged to pick up our art and take down the tent, a feat accomplished in a mere 20 minutes. Many of us painted en plein air during the festival. I arrived early on the second day and had an uninterrupted block of time to paint my scene en plein air before festival goers came, and then I was able to add in a few people.

Oil painting of a trailered oyster boat on shady private launchAt 5:00 the next morning I jumped in the car to drive the two-hour trip to Apalachicola for the Bill Farnsworth workshop. Bill is one of the featured “plein air ambassadors” of the Forgotten Coast En Plein Air event in Apalachicola. I had seen and admired his work, so when the Apalachicola School of Art advertised his workshop, it was an easy decision to sign up. The workshop was billed as Field to Studio, but the 20 mph winds and rains of the remnants of Mexico’s Hurricane Patricia were emptying out on the Gulf Coast, so we just painted in the studio using photo references that Bill had brought. His demos seemed to build from silhouetted shapes to high contrast to color, first completing much of the detail of his focal area before progressing to the less emphasized parts of the composition. The first day I painted the trailered oyster boat on the left, from a photo that Bill brought, and the second day I painted his photo of a blue truck at a seafood business.

Oil painting of a blue pickup parked beside a seafood marketAt the risk of losing my momentum here, a little rant about artistic ethics: It’s not right to pass off a painting of someone else’s image as your own. Photography is an art in itself. If someone else shot the photo, they made the compositional decisions, and probably did some post-processing. I encourage everyone to always make sure you disclose that you used someone else’s photo reference, and give him or her credit. I know there are an abundance of images available on the internet, and some artists, even recognized artists and instructors, merely download an image from the internet and then paint it. Some artists even copy other artist’s paintings, and call them their own! I’ve coordinated exhibits where artists signed a statement of ownership when  their work is clearly a copy of someone else’s work! Explaining rejections of art due to ethics is difficult when people do not have the same values. Don’t get me wrong, there is a world of benefit in copying someone’s painting, especially a Master. I never learned so much as in one semester in college when I made it my assignment to copy drawings by recognized Masters, from daVinci and Michelangelo to Degas. But it’s wrong to call it your own art, without crediting the artist or photographer. I’ve even had friends download my photos from Facebook and then re-upload them without giving me credit, instead of using the convenient “share” button that Facebook provides. OK, enough about that. So I do sell my workshop paintings that used someone else’s photo, to recover the cost of the workshop, but I always disclose it and would not enter them in an exhibit or competition.

Finally, on the last day of Bill’s workshop, the sun came out and the winds died down and the birds sang! We had opportunity to paint en plein air in the morning and again in the afternoon after Bill’s demo. I tried hard to remember Bill’s focus on relative temperatures of color, as well as relative values. I painted an old but still living tree, and I painted the St. George Island lighthouse and museum.

Bill Farnsworth 2

Bill Farsworth 1

Bill Farnsworth, Apalachicola, October 2015

Oil pain ting of an old misshapen oak tree in Apalachicola, FL Oil painting of the St. George Island light and museum

The day after Bill’s workshop, I took a bonus day away from work, since my staff had handled everything well in my absence, my only concern being when my office manager used the words “creative accounting” to explain how she resolved a cash-flow situation, oh dear.

I used my extra day to paint with Mary Erickson, the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air’s Artist in Residence at St. Joe Buffer Preserve. With my sweet host and fellow classmate and painter extraordinaire Lynn Wilson (On the Waterfront Gallery) and other friends and fellow classmates, I had attended Mary’s introduction a couple nights before, where she had shown her amazing paintings in support of the buffer preserve’s mission of appreciation and conservation of the wildlife and exquisite dune and marsh habitats.

We found Mary at sunrise Thursday morning, and watched her deftly capture the pink and orange light on the clouds and the dunes. I decided to paint on some 4×6 miniature linen panels that I had bought by mistake, intending to buy a different size, and only 5, not 50! I painted 3 studies of the wildflowers in the changing light over the course of the day.

Mary Erickson 1

Mary Erickson, Salinas Park, Oct 2015

Mary Erickson 2 Mary Erickson 3
Oil painting of wildflowers in Salinas Park, mid-morning light Oil painting of wildflowers in Salinas Park, mid-morning light Oil painting of wildflowers in Salinas Park, mid-afternoon light

All in all, a fabulous week, and delivering 5 newer paintings to be shown at On The Waterfront Gallery in Apalachicola, to boot!

Plein Air Painting With New Colors

October 20, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

As if I didn’t already have enough challenge painting en plein air, I recently tried out a new color, “cobalt green” on a couple of plein air outings. In both cases, the bright color was perfect for representing what I was seeing at the time, but it challenged me because I was unfamiliar with how it mixed with my other colors. At the Ft. Walton Beach Indian Temple Mound, I painted a bushy palm study, and at Grayton Beach State Park I painted a front-lit scene showing the colors to be much warmer and brighter than when viewed from my usual position of looking into the light.

Oil painting of a palm tree at Indian Temple Mound in Ft. Walton Beach, FL Oil painting of the fall grasses in the sunes of Grayton Beach State Park

The next week our Wednesday painting group, the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, met at the restored train depot in DeFuniak Springs, and we each painted various views around the depot and the surrounding lake yard. I chose a limited palette which included cobalt violet, a color I have carried in my paint-kit for a long time, but rarely use. It mixed well to create many of the red-violets I used to tie my painting together.

Oil painting of the train depot and tracks at DeFuniak Springs, FL, facing east

This past weekend I took a workshop from Keith Martin Johns hosted by my friend Lynn Wilson through her On the Waterfront Gallery in Apalachicola, FL. Keith taught us to paint using a 9-step value-scale from white to black for our method of changing the value of our colors. I never use my ivory black. It was a bit stiff when I squeezed it out of the tube, and I realized the tube may have been as much as 30 years old! Keith and Linda had provided us with photo references, and the assignment was to take two photos with two very different kinds of lighting, one predominantly sky, and the other a landscape, and compose a 24 x 36 painting from the two photos. I felt uncomfortable with the unfamiliar methodology, so it really forced me to stretch and grow, trying something new, with a sky I never would have attempted except for having attended this workshop! My effort is below. Because the photos were not my own images, I have priced this piece at just $300, which will cover the cost of the workshop and the materials, if you are interested in acquiring it.

Oil painting of amazing pink clouds swirling into the sunset over a marsh scene, painted in Keith Martin Johns workshop






These below are the two photo references the instructor provided that I used to create the composition above.

Building Presence as an Artist

September 10, 2015 in General, Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 10.41.18 AMConsidering all of the exposure opportunities today, no artist should be “unknown”. With a little footwork and by using my few computer skills, I have solidified my presence as an artist, both in my community and also elsewhere.

First, I try to do my part to support the arts. I volunteer as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, serving on the A+Art Committee whose mission is to exhibit member artists work in the community. That, plus my attendance at the local art network meetings, and now serving as Coordinator for the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, have put me in touch with many other artists and art opportunities. And I share literally everything on Facebook. My friends tell me I should be on Instagram too, but for now, I am limiting my time budgeted for social media.

Being involved in public activities gives me opportunity to have my work seen.

It all started when I suddenly found I had a lot more free time after my pool service business growth slowed during the drop in the economy in 2007. I returned to my practice of figure drawing in 2009. In late 2012, I decided I wanted to pursue my art more seriously and I hired a coach, SaraMae Dalferes, for 10 twice-a-month sessions to help me make some changes in my thinking which was very effective in propelling me into action. One change was so simple as putting intended activities on a calendar and making them a priority — it’s amazing how that simple action and a little resolve opened the doors! In 2013, after about 8 years of receiving the weekly notifications, and 8 years of having intended to do this, “someday”, I finally began painting with the local group of plein air painters. My three-year plan was to regain my skills with color-mixing and brushwork in oils, 30 years mostly dormant. Way back then, my medium was watercolor. I dug out my college-era oil paints, identified the ones that were still viable, and started putting together my plein air backpack. The next week I started painting!

Plein air oil painting of Indian Blanketflower at Grayton Beach State Park

Walton Sun: “Western Lake Wildflowers” by Joan Vienot 8×10 $450

While I was practicing figure drawing, in 2010 I started blogging about my work. I have no idea how many people actually read what I write — I don’t study the analytics — because the writing itself is what benefits me as an artist, helping me to realize and absorb what I am doing and how my work and my spirit are growing.

At the end of July of this year, I painted a plein air nocturne at the Blue Moon Drum Circle my best friend Leslie Kolovich organized. She wrote a story about the drum circle for the local arts weekly, The Beachcomber, submitting my painting to illustrate it, and the editor used my painting for the cover photo (above left) and wrote me up as the featured artist for the week: Also one of my paintings was selected for an art exhibit at the local hospital, and my painting was one of three used to illustrate the story in the Walton Sun, another weekly paper: So that put me in two newspapers in the same week!

Painting created for "Celebrate the Masters", a show of artwork derivative of and inspired by a recognized master

Jackson Pollock at the Beach, created for CAA/A+Art’s “Celebrate the Masters”, a show of artwork derivative of and inspired by a recognized master. Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock used house-paint to make huge non-representational “all-over” paintings to capture an energy of “allness”. I chose to paint with drips and drizzles akin to Pollock’s, and house paint colors similar to his earlier, subdued palette. Mr. Pollock worked hard to eliminate any figure in the ground, so he would have been horrified to see this iconic dolphin jumping from the water. He also never would have condescended to the 40×30 size restriction of the show for which this was painted! 40×30 $750

I also exhibit whenever possible at our local arts organization’s events. I filled one of the Summertime Tour of Homes houses with plein air works in June of this year for the Cultural Arts Alliance fundraiser. Also one of my paintings was juried into CAA/A+Art’s Top of the Class Show in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and one of my submissions was selected for Celebrate the Masters in DeFuniak Springs, FL. I also showed two pieces in the annual members’ show for Artists of Apalachicola Area, and I showed two in the member’s exhibit at CAA’s Artsquest Art and Music Festival in the spring. This fall I will be showing 8 or 10 pieces in the Destin Festival of the Arts (Mattie Kelly Art Festival) with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, and two in A+Art’s One Size Fits All. I also participated in the Quickdraw timed paint-out at “The Forgotten Coast En Plein Air”, with the good fortune of selling the piece I painted, on the spot!

Painting created for "Celebrate the Masters", a show of artwork derivative of and inspired by a recognized master

Mark Rothko at the Beach, created for CAA/A+Art’s “Celebrate the Masters”, a show of artwork derivative of and inspired by a recognized master. Mark Rothko’s “color-field” works are intriguing because of their simplicity, coupled with his intention that the viewer stand as close as 18″ away from his 8′ canvases, to be fully immersed in the experience of the artwork. The beach is one of those places where you are immersed in the vastness of the experience. Being a representational artist instead of an abstract expressionist, I decided to paint the beach in sort of a Rothko fashion, using large blocks of color, except in one block indulging in the transition from turquoise blue to the emerald green typical of our local Gulf Coast waters. 36×36 $650

I have been attending the Florida Chautauqua Assembly Plein Air Paint-Out for the past couple of years, and have been asked to instruct a plein air painting workshop at next year’s event. This will launch me on the next step in my career, sharing what I have learned and helping others to enjoy plein air painting!

Also there are the donations to fundraisers, which benefit organizations I wish to support.

It takes some effort, but it has served me well. It’s one thing to be an artist, but it’s another to be recognized, and I am grateful to those individuals and organizations along the way who encourage, support, and provide opportunity. Most especially, I am grateful to the patrons who appreciate and purchase my art! Sales not only validate my efforts; they also pay for the art supplies! After all, a lot of paint goes onto a lot of canvases before one catches the eye of a buyer!

At left is “Jackson Pollock at the Beach”, which was accepted into A+Art’s upcoming show, “Celebrate the Masters”, an exhibit of artwork derivative of and inspired by a recognized master. I also painted and submitted for the same show, “Mark Rothko at the Beach”, at right, but it was was rejected. Making lemonade out of lemons, since I really love the colors and the idea, I am hanging it where I get to see it every day, in the hallway of my businesses, 331 Pool & Beach Supply and Pool Pal.




Knowing Myself, Accepting Myself, as an Artist

September 6, 2015 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

You cannot draw and paint frequently and with intensity, without it changing how you know yourself. And with knowing yourself, comes self-acceptance, forgiveness, and eventually, compassion for others. My revelation this past week was that I am less certain that I see the whole picture. I say that with regard to my art, but also with regard to life situations.

I prove it to myself every time I pick up a pencil or a paintbrush. But this past week it was just as clear and obvious in my management of certain sticky business situations. I found I easily was able to let go of a lost cause, when I realized the customer was locked into his perception of the situation and couldn’t see the bigger picture. Ordinarily I would have struggled a good bit providing more information, but in this case, I knew I wasn’t going to change his mind, so I was able to calmly release him to his certainty that my crew was doing a bad job. And in the second situation, the first conclusion of someone having made a bad mistake evolved into someone having nearly hurt themselves badly in making that mistake, and finally to the conclusion that no one made a mistake — the situation was caused by an electrical problem and not humanly caused at all. So by not seizing on the first apparent explanation, and continuing to keep my mind open and not alienate the variously involved people in the process, I eventually was able to reach the truth. I see this as a direct metaphor for how I have to approach my drawing and my painting. I make huge mistakes when I go with my first impression, and then if I am patient with myself and with the process, I can come closer to the truth.

Below are my efforts this past week at our twice-a-month figure drawing session at the Bayou Arts Center of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.

Warm-up sketch of large nude female standing, hand on hip Warm-up sketch of large female nude, standing Warm-up sketch of large female nude propped on elbows
Warm-up sketch of large female nude, seated Warm-up drawing of large female nude lying twisted with elbow overhead
Large female seated, looking pensive Large female standing Large female seated, leaning forward on elbow


Plein Air Symmetry

August 20, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

I can’t remember the last time I painted my subject dead center in a symmetrical composition. But the live oak tree at Oak Marina had such a commanding presence yesterday morning that I decided to give it a go. It probably is 500 years old, with at least three main trunks coming up out of a common root, typical of live oaks in the wild. I remember learning when I was running a campground near where I now live, that when a branch of a live oak is plowed under, soon there will be several sprouts coming up from it, and which if allowed to grow, will form a small grove, all with a common root. Some trunks might join together, like this giant oak appeared to. It’s crown stretched at least three-fourths of the way across the water-frontage of the marina.

I was painting with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, the local group of weekly-painting plein air artists. I have volunteered to be the group’s coordinator of this year. Every Sunday I email everyone with the coming Wednesday morning location, and whoever shows up paints. For myself, I find that painting plein air with a group provides a social component that gets me out to paint when I otherwise might just blow it off, like when things are hectic at work or the weather is iffy.

The clouds came and went, rapidly changing the colors of the subject. sometimes the reflected light on the hard shiny leaves was blue, and then when the sun came out again, the colors would warm and glow. The Spanish moss swung underneath with the light breeze. The tree is so big that when you stand underneath it, it gives a feeling of rock-solid fortress-like security, but from a distance, it looked young again. This was one of those days that I personally identified with my subject.

Oil painting of the huge live oak tree at Oak Marina in Niceville, FL

Contact me if you are interested in purchasing my paintings, or click on the photo of the painting and a specific form will come up.

Surviving the Heat, Painting Plein Air

August 13, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

With the heat index over 100, any activity requiring intense focus, such as plein air painting, can actually become dangerous, because staying cool and hydrated is not the first thing on your mind. Instead you are focused on capturing just the right amount of rose in that barely orange chunk of concrete, or the touch of sky blue reflected on a shadowy surface. But the heat has no mercy. So only 3 die-hard painters without good sense showed up this week to paint. I was glad I was one of them — every time I paint, I learn.

I was painting with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at Coffeen Nature Preserve in Miramar Beach, Florida. World War II bunkers and missile tracks punctuate the beautiful nature trails wending through the wild. A few small areas of the preserve are groomed for recreational use and sight-seeing. Outside of the preserve are the houses of Four Mile Village. Caretakers Bruce and Susan Paladini watch over the preserve, welcoming guests and providing information. You have to call ahead and get their permission to visit.

I have fond memories of the area. Long ago I used to visit my dear friend Jane Henkle who lived in Four Mile Village. She would take me over the dunes to the coastal dune lake bordering the preserve, and we would sketch and paint. The last time I came to the Village was to visit her daughter after Jane died.

Every time I have come to the Preserve and to Four Mile Village, I have avoided looking at the giant barn, the first structure you come to after checking in at the office. I have always thought it generally to be a monstrosity, such a big building situated in the middle of the wild, natural beauty. But yesterday in the morning light, it caught my eye.

I sketched in the light and shadows first, to help me remember what it looked like when I finished the painting at the end of the allotted 3 hours. I left the sky until last, not sure whether it was going to cloud over or not. What initially interested me in the composition were the dark openings of the doors in the broad sunlit side of the barn, but I also noticed the sky blue reflected on the shady side of the building, and the brightly lit tree in front of that side. And then I got distracted by the intricacies of the trailer full of brush trimmings, and then the light behind the sand pile! What a fun painting, every part of it!

I finished it and then drank about a gallon of water!

Oil painting of the barn and grounds trailer at Coffeen Nature Preserve, Miramar Beach, Florida

Painting at Deer Lake State Park

August 5, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Oil painting of the view of the dunescape from the boardwalk at Deer Lake State Park in Walton County, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Uncertain whether it would rain or not, I deployed my sun umbrella when I set up to paint with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at our weekly outing, this week at Deer Lake State Park. The beach breeze promptly blew it over and inside-out despite my wraps of rope around the stem. I was a little craftier in in how I tied it down the second time. I had to head it into the wind a little, which meant it initially was useless but 45 minutes later, it shaded my palette and canvas perfectly. And it never rained while we painted.

Deer Lake State Park contains beautiful, unspoiled, pristine sand dunes. The very long boardwalk is elevated to provide superior views in all directions, protecting the habitat below from feet beating a trail to the beach. Clouds came and went, but that didn’t matter as I blocked in the skyline of dunes and water. However, when I looked for the light and shadow the next time the sun came out, I realized I had forgotten to put my whites on my palette. I looked for them in my collection of tubed paints – nope, not there. Apparently still sitting on my table in my studio. Now what? The other painters were all a good hike away from me, so I decided to paint without borrowing white for as long as I could. I had toned the bottom half of the canvas with beige acrylic before I started, so it wasn’t stark white. The dunes were very white though, where the bare canvas showed in between the painted bushes and grass. I decided that was a good thing. I decided that I might not need white, if I could be disciplined enough to not paint where the white needed to be.

Park visitors walked past me, on their way to the beach, but some stopped to watch. They complimented my work, and some talked to me. I enjoyed that. There are times when I am seriously challenged by my painting, when I might not be in the friendliest of moods, but today’s painting was fun and interesting. Working without white made me a bit nervous, but it also provided an excuse if the painting didn’t turn out good, so I think I may actually have been fairly relaxed.

The group met in the picnic shelter back at the parking lot, for our “soft” critique, and we then packed up and met at a local restaurant for lunch.

Another beautiful painting adventure!

Blue Moon Drum Circle Nocturne en Plein Air

August 1, 2015 in Figure Drawing, Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Nocturne en plein air, Oil painting of a drum circle on the beach on the night of the blue moon, 7/31/15

Blue moon is the term for the second full moon in a single month. The color of the moon is normal, not actually blue. It happens about every 3 years. Painting the blue moon is an opportunity that comes, well (forgive me), only once in a blue moon. So I had to paint, instead of beating a drum, at the Blue Moon Drum Circle last night. My dear friend Leslie Kolovich organizes drum circles once a month, usually in her studio. It had been touch and go whether we would be able to meet on the beach for the moonrise, the weather forecast changing by the hour. The night before, she and I had actually come up with Plan B in case we were rained out, creating a slide presentation of images of the blue moon (most of them tinted blue) that we found on the internet, that we would project onto one wall of her studio, sized to cover the whole wall. But we were thrilled that Plan A worked out. Being a plein air painter and a nature enthusiast, I think that anything outdoors is infinitely preferable to being indoors.

I quickly set up while the drum circle participants socialized. I used a wash of red and black acrylic paint to tone my 8×10 stretched canvas before I started. I was eliminating the stark white of the canvas, so that distracting white hollows of the canvas texture would not show underneath if my hasty brushstrokes skipped across the canvas in my hurry to capture what I knew would be quickly-fading light. I am an oil painter, and I wanted my wash to be dry before I started – the reason for the wash being acrylic.

I joined the drum circle for the stating of goals. Leslie explained that the energy and timing of the blue moon is perfect for enlisting the support of others in the attainment of our goals, if spoken out loud. We all listened to each others goals — mine to someday retire and become a full-time painter. Afterwards the group began drumming, an easy gentle beat, while I returned to my easel to lay in the basic shapes of the beach, the dune skyline, the Gulf of Mexico, and the sky. The sound of the waves added an ebb and flow to the rhythm of the drums. Occasionally someone would start chanting, and I smiled when someone led everyone in a couple of wonderful howls, calling to the moon that was still beneath the horizon.

When it became difficult to distinguish the colors on my palette, I turned on my tiny book lights — one for my canvas and one for my palette. Shortly after that, I heard someone “Ohhhhh” over the sound of the drums, and a couple of people stood and craned their necks towards the distant coastline,and I saw a glow behind one of the structures on the beach. They, with their view unobstructed, saw the reddish moon peeking over the dunes. In a few minutes I did too, a beautiful red-orange orb, bright enough to make the close clouds glow.

Every painter is familiar with the anxiety of having a nervous twitch just at the moment of laying the brush tip on the canvas to render a detail. It’s worse when you are painting a starkly contrasting color. Especially orange. “Confidence, my lady, do not fear!” And just that fast, the moon was in the painting! Soon after that, I stopped, picked up my paints and backpack and trekked back to my car. I took a photo of my painting and texted it to Leslie along with a few photos of the group at sunset.Then I rejoined the group for a little drumming of my own.

But there was something bothering me about the painting that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Later, when Leslie received my texts, she texted back, “The beach looks like snow.” That’s a common description of our sugar-white sand beaches here on the Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida, but I wondered what I needed to do to make it look more like a beach. Then it dawned on me — beach vegetation! So this morning I popped in a little vegetation suggesting sea oats in front of the dunes, and that made all the difference. I pronounced the painting Done.


Below is a pen-and-ink sketch of another one of our drum circles, drawn inside Leslie’s studio during the drumming.

Pen-and-ink sketch of drummers in a drum circle

Giclée prints available, 6×15 stretched canvas $90; 6×15 paper $45.



Plein Air Painting at Alaqua Animal Refuge

July 20, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Detail of 2015-0715 Emu at Alaqua Animal RefugeI paint with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters which meet every Wednesday morning to paint somewhere in the Okaloosa-Walton two-county area in Northwest Florida. Last week we met at Alaqua Animal Refuge. What a treat. Interesting animals everywhere, and fantastic areas of light and shadow between the barns and sheds and trees. I had been at Alaqua only a few times before this, to adopt a couple of cats, so this was the first time I looked at it through a painters eyes, with no other agenda.

After walking much of the immediate grounds, admiring Gorgeous George, the turkey strutting his full regalia, and the pigs, and the horses, burros, goats, and of course the dogs and cats and kittens, finally I found the emus, and decided I wanted an emu in my painting.

Alas, the perspective and the brilliant light in my scene completely dominated the emu. But I still have titled it “Emu at Alaqua Animal Refuge”, honoring my original intention. So often that is the case, that when I paint en plein air, the “what” that I thought I was painting either doesn’t get painted at all, like the Indian Blanket flowers I had intended to paint last week, or else the focus shifts during the painting, to the perspective and the light.

The painting is 12 x 24. I also have posted a detail showing that indeed there is an emu in the painting!

Plein air oil painting of the light near the emu's pen at Alaqua Animal Refuge near Freeport, FL


The Practice of Art

July 10, 2015 in Figure Drawing, Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Certain pursuits are referred to as a practice. We think of the practice of law, the practice of medicine, the practice of meditation. I consider my art to be a practice — I practice figure drawing, I practice plein air painting. I think of it as lifelong learning, each painting or drawing a new experience.

I stopped figure drawing a few years ago when the logistics became more difficult, and instead I began plein air painting. Now, when I go to the life drawing sessions my local arts alliance supports, I find my practice a little rusty. But thanks to my friend Melanie Cissone for bringing the local figure drawing opportunities back to life, figure drawing is getting easier again. Bohlert-Massey Interiors in Seacrest Beach, Florida, has been selling my figurative pieces and suddnely I am hard-pressed to re-supply their stock, so I am happy that my practice is paying off.

Below are some recent works from both of my practices. Click on them and use the attached form to message me if you are interested.

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Plein air oil painting of the herons on the bridge at Veteran's Park, Okaloosa Island, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Plein air oil painting of the "umbrella trees" from the south shore of Western Lake at Grayton Beach State Park

Plein air oil painting of Indian Blanketflower at Grayton Beach State Park

Figure drawing of older child-fashion-model