Considering 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!
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: http://npaper-wehaa.com/beachcomber/2015/08/s1/?output=html&article=2590071. 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: http://www.waltonsun.com/article/20150826/NEWS/150829408/16781/ENTERTAINMENT. So that put me in two newspapers in the same week!
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!
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.