Bagdad-Milton Paint-Out 2016: Best in Show, Joan Vienot

October 2, 2016 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot


Click to enlarge

The annual Bagdad-Milton (near Pensacola, FL) plein air “paint-out” was Saturday, October 1, 2016. I was honored to win Best in Show. The judge was Fred Myers, retired professor of Fine Art (University of Northern Colorado, my alma mater). He said that he initially judges art on two primary  qualities — Does it invite you in? And does it have unity? The exhibit of plein air paintings produced that day will hang at the Santa Rosa Arts and Culture Foundation’s Dragonfly Gallery at 6815 Caroline Street in Milton, FL 32570 until November 11, 2016.

Gallerist Sally Miller invited the Pensacola area plein air painters to tour interesting scenes in Milton and Bagdad the day before the event.

Both days were exceptional, a clear and sunny 62° in the morning and 80° midday. Before painting, all artists were asked to go to the gallery first, have theirr blank canvases stamped to certify that the canvases indeed were blank, and then everyone went out to paint. I chose to paint at the Bagdad Boat Landing, one of the many locations we had visited on Friday. There were many possible scenes there. pink-and-blue-chairsThe one I had liked on midmorning on Friday, two chairs on a dock walkway, backed by kayaks and a ton of nautical stuff under a house, did not have the same light early Saturday, so I looked again at the flower-lined fenced entryway to a house, the view from the private dock, and finally, a neighboring yard where a big bull mastiff glared and barked at me from the other side of the fenced until he figured out I wasn’t going away. We were friends by the time I finished painting.

I am working with a new, smaller, James Coulter palette, and I am leaving my leftover paints in the palette, stowing it in the freezer at night. The paints are staying workable for longer than they would if I didn’t keep them in the freezer, but even so, I often find them at different consistencies the next time I use the palette. That was certainly true on Saturday, but once I start painting en plein air, it seems like the challenges just become part of the process. More than once it occurred to me to scrape out the old paint and squeeze new paint onto my palette, but somehow that seemed like it would take up too much valuable time. I was painting on a larger canvas than I usually use, 12 x 24, and I knew I had a lot to cover, so I hung in there with the less than ideal paint, finishing at the stroke of noon, right on time. It took six minutes to pack up and go, 8 minutes to drive back to the gallery, and 15 minutes to unload and frame and wire my painting, turning it in at the last minute, at 12:30, for the judging.

Below is my painting as completed there in the paint-out.

Oil painting of a boat in a grassy yard with the play of light under oak trees on the waterfront of a bay

Click for purchase information form.


Heaven in Taos, a Workshop with Morgan Samuel Price

September 2, 2016 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Photo of Joan Viewnot painting, by Morgan Samuel Price at MSP workshop in Taos, NM, August, 2016. At right is the painting Joan was working on:

Joan Vienot painting, photo by Morgan Samuel Price at MSP workshop in Taos, NM, August, 2016. At right is the painting Joan was working on:

In mid-August I traveled from my home in Northwest Florida, to Taos, New Mexico, for a plein air workshop with my favorite instructor and friend, Morgan Samuel Price. I traveled with Beckie Perrott, also my friend and a member of the group I paint with every week, the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters.

The sunlight is positively beautiful in Taos, especially early in the morning. The landscape is greener than I had imagined it would be, probably because it rained usually once a day.

Beckie and I stayed at the extraordinary B&B called Adobe & Pines Inn, which I rate with 5 stars! Our host, Christine, was so sweet and accommodating, and prepared fantastic breakfasts for us every day.

One of the artists in the class was local — Don Wallis, who helped find interesting places for us to paint, and shared his studio one afternoon when it was too rainy to paint outdoors..

Much of what Morgan taught seemed to me to be the first time I heard it, but she said she teaches generally the same concepts in every class. Maybe it has taken me three workshops to hear what she is saying!!

Below are the paintings I produced in Taos, each done with specific goals from what I was learning. Several are quite small, my intention being to make little practice pieces before I dug in with the concept I wanted to focus on. There were so many shapes I had never painted before — by painting a practice piece first, I was hopeful that the subject then in the second painting would not present as much of a challenge, so that I could pay more attention to the goal of the lesson. This strategy was not very successful — most of the time I bogged down and used up all the painting time on the practice pieces, leaving precious little time to do a second painting!

Oil painting of the labyrinth at Adobe and Pines Inn, Taos, NM

Labyrinth at Adobe & Pines Inn, Taos, NM

Oil painting of the side of San Francisco de Asis Mission, Taos, NM

San Francisco de Asis Mission, Taos, NM

Oil painting of the back of the San Francisco de Asis Mission, Taos, NM

San Francisco de Asis Mission, Taos, NM

Oil painting of the wildflowers and fenced meadow at Overland Sheepskin Co, north of Taos, NM

Wildflowers in the back 40 at Overland Sheepskin Co., Taos

Oi painting of 3 horses in a fenced meadow, Taos Valley, NM

There were 4 — one got away unpainted!

Oil painting of sage in bloom in Taos, NM

Sage in bloom, Taos

Oil painting of the very short blue door and the courtyard path in the Taos Art Supply courtyard, Taos, NM

Taos Art Supply Courtyard

Oil painting of the bridge and reflective water at the Hacienda Martinez, Taos, NM

Bridge at Hacienda Martinez, Taos, painted indoors, photo reference provided by the instructor. The other paintings were done en plein air.

Plein Air Painting in the Heat

July 23, 2016 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Oil painting of pitcher plants painted en plein air at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport, FLHeat index is a calculation combining actual temperature with humidity, the result being what the temperature actually feels like, and a good gauge of the stress one suffers in the environment. Plein air painters paint in the open air, so they regularly subject themselves to extreme weather, often without realizing it, since they are absorbed in painting. That was the case when I painted with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at the E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center near Freeport, FL, this week. We were met by our most gracious guide, Laura Leslie-Sell, herself an artist, who took us on a short tour of the nearby grounds, showing us an old house on the property, with fat, happy, free-range chickens scratching in the dirt, and the tortoise area, where we saw numerous gopher tortoise burrows, and then through the hammock and down towards the creek, and finally back up past the rescued eagle, hawk, and bobcats. Also on the grounds, too distant to trek to, is a large bog filled with pitcher plants, a carnivorous plant that has fascinated me since I saw them for the first time when I moved to Florida years ago. Laura showed us a small patch the Center had for display purposes, and I decided they would be my subject for the day.

Back to the heat index… I set up my umbrella and easel and got to work on my pitcher plants. The shape of the pitcher plant is what interests me the most, a slender tube with a flap suspended over the top, inviting insects to come in to be dinner. With so many grouped together, they presented quite the challenge with the brush size I was using. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. But when it grew time for our soft critique and I began picking up my paints, I discovered that slight bit of disorientation I know is my first symptom of heat stress. I checked my weather app on my phone: the heat index was 107 degrees!!! I had known it was a scorcher; I had drank my refillable bottle of water and the can of LaCroix that I had brought but clearly it was hotter than I was able to endure for much longer. I quickly cleaned up and set out to find the other painters, to check on them. They all seemed fine, and one was painting on the shady front porch of the Center, where the air was moving a little bit. I was reminded of an instructor who said, regarding scene selection, that first she finds a nice, shady place, sets up her easel and palette, and then she turns around in a circle and looks for something to paint. That’s the wisdom of experience!

Paint Your Heart Out! Painting en Plein Air at Least Once a Week!

July 6, 2016 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

While I was employed full-time in my own business, managing the maintenance of 300+ swimming pools, some commercial, some residential, some high-use vacation rentals, in the resort area of South Walton County, in NW Florida, I was doing good to paint just once a week. I thought that as soon as I sold my business, I would immediately start painting every day. That has not yet turned out to be the case, although it is still a future goal. Currently I am painting for the most part still only just once a week en plein air, while I continue to provide consulting services to ‘my’ business, and while I get my home life organized and start building the business foundation for my art career. I feel very impatient, and it seems like life is moving like molasses, but then I look back and I see that mountains of change have happened. I trust that my closest friends for the most part forgive my thin patience as I find myself feeling stressed nearly to the breaking point. I have resumed more frequent stand-up paddleboarding now that my left hand has healed from CMC arthroscopy and that makes a huge difference in my “Zen”!  Also I began recovering neglected friendships this week, grateful that the people in my community are so rock-solid.

As I work on releasing an employment identity I have had for 35 years, I remember that I also have always identified as an artist. It’s just that there is a big difference between being a hobbyist, and being a career artist. My experience in business will be an asset. For now I am using the shoe-box method of accounting, and I am studying marketing, and I am continuing to improve my technique.

And that leads me to tell you of the encouragement I received from my dear friend this morning when I mentioned my plans for the day. “Paint your heart out!” she texted me. So I did, and I was pleased with my result, an oil painting of the dunes south of Western Lake at Grayton Beach State Park. In the distant background are the iconic “umbrella trees”, with the sugar white sand dunes topped by odd clumps of live oak, slash pine, and wild rosemary, pruned by the wind and the salt spray. I resisted the temptation to put the sweet yellow and red Indian Blanket flowers in the near foreground, since my intention was to capture the more distant skyline. The Indian Blankets will have to be painted another day. Below is today’s painting, 8×10, oil on linen panel.

Oil painting of the dunes south of Western Lake, at Grayton Beach State Park

Last week we painted at Ft. Walton Landing Park in Ft. Walton Beach. An simple orange dinghy caught my eye, my interest being the strong orange light and shadow, as well as the interesting shape. I scrubbed it out twice before I painted it the size I wanted, and then solved a compositional problem by adding another piling on the right. (Thank you for the tip, Weezie.)

Oil painting of an orange dinghy tied to the dock, Ft. Walton Landing Park, Ft. Walton Beach, FL

And the week before last, we painted at the amazing, beautiful “impossibly blue” Morrison Springs, near Ponce de Leon. I got caught up in the staccato of “impossible greens” shining through the dark cypress at the edge of the spring.

Oil painting of the light through the cypress trunks at Morrison Springs, Ponce de Leon, FL

It’s been a good several weeks. Today I mentored a fellow painter on compositional conventions, and I coached her to use tools available to her in today’s day and age, namely, her phone-camera, which serves as an excellent viewfinder. I use mine all the time, often taking a number shots or more before I decide on a particular viewpoint and framing of a composition, and then from there perhaps moving an element or two to create better balance, rhythm, and harmony. In fact, I am making images all the time, with my camera, and I am convinced that it has strongly boosted my feel for good composition.

For people who live on the Emerald Coast or people visiting from Ft. Walton – Destin – Santa Rosa Beach – eastern Panama City Beach areas, if you would like to receive notification of our weekly Wednesday painting sessions, email me at PleinAirEmeraldCoast at I serve as coordinator for the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, which merely means that I am in charge of email!

Sixteen members of our group are exhibiting works at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast now through August 31, 2016. Stop on by!

ECPAP Show postcard

Jan Faubel Writes About Joan Vienot

June 14, 2016 in Landscape by joanvienot

Jan Faubel, Educational Advisor and Adjunct Professor at Northwest Florida State College, is a member of the DeFuniak Springs Art Co-Op, and she has taken on the task of writing about each member for the local paper, the DeFuniak Springs Herald Beach Breeze. Ms. Faubel has Masters Degrees in Art Education, Humanities – Art History, and English Literature. Following are the three chapters she wrote about artist Joan Vienot, published April 7, 14, and 21, 2016.


Fresh off the Easel, Part 1, By Jan Faubel

Joan Vienot

Joan Vienot with People's Choice Best in Show award at Local Color Plein Air Festival, Lynn Haven, FL,November 14, 2015

Joan Vienot with People’s Choice Best in Show award at Local Color Plein Air Festival, Lynn Haven, FL,November 14, 2015

Plein Air painter, extraordinaire, Joan Vienot of Santa Rosa Beach, embraces oils, watercolor, and graphite, as well as nupastel media to capture both the beauty of landscapes and the nuances of the human figure. “Plein Air,” refers to painting outdoor, on site, rather than in the studio, and completing at least 80% of the painting outside. Consequently, Joan, along with most other Plein Air painters, tends to create smallish works due to the time constraints of changing light. Joan claims not only a Bachelors of Fine Art but also a Bachelors in Health/Physical Education/Recreation. In addition to her formal Fine Art training, Joan has also studied under some of the best contemporary artists via their workshops. Those notable names include Morgan Samuel Price, Greg LaRock, Laurel Daniels, Julie Gilbert Pollard, and Tom Lynch.

In addition to these world-class artists, Joan is particularly influenced by the “drybrush and pencil drawings of Andrew Wyeth,” the great 20th century New England artist. Joan comments, “Even as a teenager, I could immerse myself in my treasured books of his works, feeling the warmth of the sun shining on the old jacket hung near the door, smelling the musty interior of the barn, hearing the rushing of the breeze through the grasses, the crunch of the boots on the snow.” She continues, “[Wyeth’s] certainty of the light, the composition, his ability to catch a single moment, thrill me like no other artist, even in the absence of color with his detailed pencil sketches. In fact, his drawings may be the reason I take so much pleasure in drawing as an art form in itself. They stop me and make me look, and they thrill my heart.” Indeed, Joan’s intuitive landscapes reflect the homespun, grounded, heartfelt, internalized reality so well-associated with Wyeth’s work. She has a clear connectivity to both land and sea, embracing all that is nature.

Painting of the sailboats in the fog at Oak Marina in Niceville, FLJoan recounts her, initially embarrassing, first Art honor, which came in second grade: “my crayon drawing of John Glenn walking up to his rocket was chosen to illustrate the news feature of my classmates’ stories about him orbiting the earth. Now I appreciate that experience as my ‘first public recognition’ as an artist!” More recently, in October 2015, Joan won the People’s Choice/Best in Show, Local Color Plein Air Festival, in Lynn Haven, FL; in January 2016, she received Third Place, Southeast Regional Juried Art Show, at the Mattie Kelly Art Gallery at Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, FL.; and also in January 2016, Joan was the Featured Plein Air Artist and Workshop Instructor, 2016 Florida Chautauqua Assembly, DeFuniak Springs, FL. Joan’s personable teaching style engaged her workshop participants. Joan and her followers were a fun group to watch as they painted around the lake yard and throughout the Chautauqua events.

Joan shares that she admires those who provide opportunity for others to experience the arts and who support the various art programs throughout her community. She appreciates the hard-working volunteers and staffs of numerous arts organizations, arts educators, and art networks. But most significantly, Joan values her dearest friends who put up with her “endless photography and the frequent halting of an adventure as” she “gets lost admiring the color of a rock or the shadow of an underpass.”

Joan informs us: “As an art educator, I know there are many studies that indicate students participating in [arts classes] consistently perform better in both arts and sciences and have higher standardized test scores. . . . I know that solutions in business and life come to me more easily when I am regularly practicing art, and my sense of spiritual well-being is greater when I am creative. I believe that communal soul is expressed through a community’s encouragement of the arts. I was thrilled with the amount of public art [in] Toronto . . . , and I treasure that experience as a frame of reference for a community which supports the arts.”

Because Joan was so forthcoming in her interview, this column is a first installment. She shared much that I know you will find fascinating. Meanwhile, stop by the DeFuniak Art Co-op to enjoy Joan’s amazing paintings.


Fresh off the Easel, Part 2, By Jan Faubel

More of the Joan Vienot Story

                  “Being an artist is a state of awareness, coupled with a spirit of sharing,” observes Joan Vienot. “Being an artist requires me to be truthful, brave, humble, playful, attentive, forgiving, attached and yet detached, expressive, focused, open-minded, persevering, and studious. It requires me to pay attention, but also to relinquish attention, to own and then to release, to surrender and to conquer, to respect the ebb and flow of the cycles of energy and effort,” she explains. From a philosophical standpoint, Joan comments, “I believe that Creativity is the closest humans can come to practicing our own divinity. Problem-solving, harmonizing, expressing, sharing, birthing, all of these are aspects of creativity, in contrast to violence, harm, and destruction. The making of art and the enjoyment of art are essential human activities; not to allow for this is barbaric. In any final analysis, from foreign relations to growing a garden, it goes better if there is an art to it: a dance, give and take, a gracefulness. Art and artfulness provide the je ne sais quoi. There are two aspects to art—throughout the larger part of our lives, art is the enhancement to our lives as an end product which we enjoy. But for me as an artist, during the time while I am producing art, I experience and survive and have memory of the process, with the end product simply being a coming and going, where my inspiration takes my soul through the valley of the shadow of death before I climb out on the other side, a changed person. The process of making art is, for me, an essential part of my spiritual and psychological evolution.” As a final note, Joan admits, “Well, OK, that may be a little dramatic—because besides all that, it’s just fun!”

When asked how her work has grown within the past 10 years, Joan shared that ten years ago her pool business was thriving—a mixed blessing for her. It provided a good living but left her little if any time to make art. A few years later, when the economy shifted, she found herself with a slower pace at work, thus leaving her with time to be creative. Her first step was to join a figure drawing class. Since Joan had specialized in figure drawing at the university, she was in her comfort zone. That reawakening of her creative spirit led Joan to carve a studio out of her guest house with the intention of painting. In 2012, after having received 8 years of invitations to join the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, Joan decided to embrace her desire to paint landscapes on-site. Encouragement from the group fueled Joan’s need to paint, but she still had not totally committed to being a full-time artist.

Stay tuned as we continue to delve into Joan Vienot’s life as an artist. All artists have different stories which lead us simultaneously inward to discover our inner artist and outward to engage the world. We are forever works in progress!


Fresh off the Easel, Part 3, By Jan Faubel

Joan Vienot: A Work in Progress

Last week we left Joan transitioning into a full-time artist. This week we find her commenting, “I was committed to making changes in my life, to be that full-time artist I had dreamed of being.” To reach that goal, Joan credits the influence and direction of friends Leslie Kolovich and Jane Burns, as well as life coach Saramae Dalferes. An epiphany revealed to Joan that throughout her life, she had placed Art as something “nice, [but] an optional extra, not a necessity” thus repressing her innate need to paint, to make Art. As a result, Joan makes a solid date every Wednesday with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters. To reinforce her new life plan, Joan elaborates that as her painting skills improve, she paints more, and her passion grows, compelling her to paint even more; “So in the fall of 2014, I set [my] intention to sell my pool service business, and I began taking the necessary steps so that I can indeed be a full-time artist.” To that end, Joan developed a 3-year plan: learning to paint Plein Air regularly, taking as many workshops and classes as possible, and studying marketing, a phase that merged into Year #4.

Part of that Marketing phase includes local recognition, something that Joan has realized by being awarded a one woman show because of exemplary performance in the Local Color Plein Air Festival. Additionally, she won third place in the Southeast Regional Juried Art Show (ADSO), with all three of her entries being accepted in the show—a noteworthy accomplishment! And in January 2016, she was the Featured Plein Air Artist at the Chautauqua Assembly, conducting a well-received workshop: “Teaching, sharing my passion, and helping others to achieve their [passion] has always excited me, and it feels so easy, so I will continue to look for teaching opportunities as I further progress in my art career.”

When asked what famous art she has seen and been impacted by, Joan cited her love for the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists in NYC’s Museum of Modern Art where she came face-to-face with Van Gogh’s Starry Night: “Teary-eyed, I was not prepared for the power of the piece seen in person, having looked at it for hours in photographs.” Joan’s goal is to make viewers of her art stop in their tracks, be captured by the moment, and feel her thrill of painting!


The DeFuniak Springs Art Co-Op is located at 782 Baldwin Ave., DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433.

Documentation en Plein Air

June 11, 2016 in Landscape by joanvienot

In a dispassionate sense, plein air painting is documentation of what the artist sees and experiences. I’ve heard workshop instructors use the word documentation. I have used the word to describe the business of keeping records, the primary purpose being to have a defense if someone were to question actions taken. In business, record-keeping is such a necessary evil, that it is difficult to apply the same word to something so joyful as plein air painting. For the most part, I am a truth-seeker, not just about what I see, but about what I perceive, stretching from the mundane to the eternal questions of the universe, of which many are closer to being answered by the time a plein air painting is finished!

Sometimes I like to sit with a plein air painting after I bring it home, and ponder whether or not I want to add a detail or two in the studio, to improve the composition, or the legibility, or the impact. Usually I leave it as is, preferring the spontaneity of expression to accuracy or finesse.

Below is an 8 x 10 I painted yesterday evening, in our county seat, DeFuniak Springs, Florida. There is an old clock on the street corner, with the name of the bank cast into its housing, that fascinated me, with the evening light creating an interesting combination of oddly colorful pastels in the background building and the street. The colors were particularly appealing to me. As sundown approached, the yellows and pinks became more and more intense. It was fun — I would like to go back and paint this scene again.

Oil painting of the bank clock on Baldwin Ave., DeFuniak Springs, FL, painted en plein air

Earlier in the week I painted with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at Eden Gardens State Park in Point Washington, Florida. It is one of our favorite places to paint, with a restored antebellum mansion central to the gardens and massive, Spanish-moss bedecked live oak trees. We had received a good bit of rain as a tropical storm passed south of us in the Gulf of Mexico, and that rain revived the resurrection fern decorating the live oak trees with bright yellow-green new growth. The day was clear but the summer heat made it seem hazy, so I avoided the temptation to detail anything, and instead let the awkward shapes of the trees merely serve as a framework for the fern.

Oil painting of the Wesley Mansion at Eden Gardens State Park, painted en plein air

I live on a gorgeous section of the Gulf Coast, with beaches of sugar-white sand so fine it squeaks underfoot like dry snow. This mansion at Eden Gardens is second only to the beach, as a popular venue for weddings. I have painted at several receptions, and have acquired a domain which redirects to a page on my website set aside for my work for weddings: 30A is the beach highway where I live, and has become a geographic identifier for the area. I decided to start marketing that work, so a couple of days ago I created a 30A Wedding Painter Facebook Page. I hope to have more to report soon!



Florida’s Finest Ambassador at Forgotten Coast en Plein Air

June 7, 2016 in Landscape by joanvienot

At ‘America’s Great Paint-Out’, the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, I was thrilled and honored to be one of the six artists selected from across the state of Florida to be a Florida’s Finest en Plein Air Ambassador for 2016-2017. Kathleen Denis, Jill Berry, Karen Ann Hitt, Joseph Palmerio, and Randy Pitts and I were honored with an exhibit of our work at the event gallery on Reid Avenue in Port St. Joe and those paintings are now being shown in various venues across the state. In addition to being included in the commemorative Collector’s Guide for the event, the Ambassadors were invited as honored guests along with the event’s invited professional artists to the various receptions.

Mentoring Linda Quinlan

Forgotten Coast en Plein Air Painting Station, with Linda Quinlan

We Ambassadors were tasked with mentoring novices at the plein air painting stations throughout the event. For a mere $25, people were able to sign up online to have a one-on-one two-hour oil painting session, with supplies and equipment provided by Blick Art Materials, the program itself sponsored by Duke Energy. The schedule offered 15 two-hour one-on-one sessions over 5 days for each Ambassador, 90 sessions in all. My art degree and training as an educator and my experience in teaching was an real advantage, so that my chief challenge with teaching one-on-one was speaking simply and succinctly. The job was not difficult, because all of my “students” had visual understanding. However by the 4th day my feet were complaining — which now gives me opportunity to plug Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution Soothe & Sleep with Lavender, available at the Apalachicola CVS!

2016-0511 St. Joe Bay Buffer State Preserve

Click for larger image

My lodging was at the quiet and peaceful St. Joseph Bay Buffer State Preserve. Every morning I was inspired by the early morning light creating shades of metallic pastels on the the bay just outside my door.

While at the event, the work continued to come in. I received a request to provide a workshop for my local arts organization in Santa Rosa Beach, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, a second request to provide a workshop for the Beach Art Group in Panama City Beach, and an invitation to speak at the Arts and Design Society’s July luncheon in Fort Walton Beach. I also am coordinating an exhibit of works by my home plein air group, the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast in July and August for their Arts in Medicine program. One thing leads to another.

Last year was the year I was going to focus on marketing, and this year on developing a workshop schedule. Marketing couldn’t happen last year – my business didn’t sell as soon as I had thought it would, and this year is turning out to be marketing and developing a workshop schedule both in the same year. I also intend to develop a studio practice. Up until now, I have primarily focused on painting en plein air, so as a result most of the pieces I offer are less than 11×14, most being 8×10. Working in the studio will allow me to paint larger works.


Below are some of my recent works, painted en plein air.

Oil painting of two angled tree trunks at Port St. Joe at FCenPA Quickdraw

Forgotten Coast painting station demo sample 9×12


Oil painting of the marsh from Salina Park, Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL

Forgotten Coast painting station demo sample 4×6


2015-0509 Lightkeepers Cottages

Forgotten Coast nocturne, Port St. Joe 8×10


2016-0525 Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Okaloosa Island, bayside


 Three 6×6 studies of clouds over the Choctawhatchee Bay
Oil painting of cumulus clouds over the Choctawhatchee Bay, from Nick's Restaurant; 1st of 3 Oil painting of cumulus clouds over the Choctawhatchee Bay, from Nick's Restaurant; 2nd of 3 Oil painting of cumulus clouds over the Choctawhatchee Bay, from Nick's Restaurant; 3rd of 3


Plein Air Convention and Beyond

May 5, 2016 in Landscape by joanvienot

Pastel painting of a cove clifflike in Nova Scotia

I attended Plein Air Magazine’s 5th annual Plein Air Convention and Expo in Tucson, Arizona, a few weeks ago, for a week of lectures, demonstrations, and painting with 900 other plein air enthusiasts. The pre-convention workshop was presented by Matt Smith, an amazing painter who discussed his theories and practices and showed examples of everything from subtle temperature shift to panoramic composition. It was fairly overwhelming, and I took a ton of notes. Other convention presentations conflicted and overlapped, requiring choice and sacrifice. My intention was to learn about Marketing, so I attended Plein Air Magazine publisher Eric Rhoads’ Marketing Boot Camp lecture series which started every morning at 6:30 AM. Another seminar was offered by the magazine’s marketing team, who presented essential elements of every aspect of marketing, from developing a Curriculum Vitae to managing social media, gallery representation, and website development. I’ve got some work to do over the next year!

One of the demonstrations I attended was performed by Nancie King Mertz, who used pastels. I had not worked much with pastels as a medium alone, though I had a number of colors which I believe my mother had given me, that she did not use. When I was in college, I had used them merely to add background tone in some of my figure drawings. After attending Nancie’s demo, I went to the Expo store where fantastic deals were offered by manufacturers and distributors, to feed or hook every attending artists’ addictions – media, tools, toys, and DVD’s – and I bought a set of Sennelier soft pastels, the “Paris Collection”. As soon as I got home, I signed up for 4 lessons from our local Artist of the Year, Melody Bogle, who teaches pastel classes at our Bayou Arts Center for the Cultural Arts Alliance.

In the first two sessions, I painted a 9×12 of our Gulf Coast lupines. I immediately could see why pastelists need so many colors. My collection of 120 half-sticks was hardly adequate; I borrowed a the more subtle colors from Melody. A few days later, two commission patrons visited by my studio, and they left with Lupines, my first pastel, sold!

My second painting in soft pastels is above, a scene from my first artist-vacation 15 years ago, a trip to Nova Scotia. While I was painting it this week, I again experienced the feelings which prompted me to spent some time standing in that spot, enjoying the visual feast. It is my hope that people viewing my art also get some sense of that awe, the energy of that specific place.

The paintings I created at the plein air convention in Arizona are below. It’s a wonder I could paint anything at all, because of the disconnect between what I was learning or relearning at the convention, and what my right-brain could assimilate and immediately put to work.

2016-0416 Tucson Greens
Oil painting of a mountain ravine at Picacho Peak State Park, in Tucson, AZ

I painted this first painting, at left, outside my motel room door. The desert started at the edge of the hotel grounds. In the middle ground were some flat-roofed buildings providing pinks which played well against the greens of the distance, and finally, the late afternoon light on the mountains.

Names were drawn for different benefits and prizes throughout the convention, and I won a critique with Jove Wang and Kathryn Stats. This is the painting I chose to be critiqued. I was pleased when both gave favorable comments. Click on the painting for a larger version.

The darker painting of the mountain ravine was painted on the last day of the convention, a full day set aside to paint at Picacho Peak State Park. I believe I was the first painter to come into the park, probably because most of the convention attendees had been at the closing party the night before. I backpacked my gear about a half-mile up a trail until this scene presented, with the light just giving a glow in the the crevice between the mountains. I was passed by several hikers and painters later, but only had one four-legged visitor, a salamander who gave me a wary eye for a long time before moving on.

I am very pleased with Desert Mountain Ravine’s hint of early morning light. The sun was above the ridge line, to the left of the picture frame, but only the warmth creeping into the ravine interested me, in contrast to the cool sides of the mountains.


I am back home now, and I am very lucky to live a mere two hours from the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, the regional plein air invitational and paint-out, where I will enjoy a week of demonstrations, learning-lunches, presentations, and receptions. But I will be working this year, participating as one of the six Florida’s Finest Plein Air Ambassadors selected from various parts of the state, who are assigned the task of mentoring plein air novices in one-on-one 2-hour sessions which are offered 3 times a day, for the first 5 days of the event. This will conflict with and prevent me from participating in certain parts of the event, but the experience of the 15 one-on-one sessions of mentoring will be invaluable! There are still 3 slots left in my schedule, if any of my readers are dallying: 2016 Painting Stations (click here).

Later this month, I will make a serious effort at absorbing more marketing information, by participating in the webinars and activities outlined in Art Marketing in a Box, a program produced by Plein Air Magazine. When I first started painting en plein air, 4 years ago, I had planned to spend the first year trying to remember how to mix colors and how to use my brushes. The second year I was going to go to as many workshop[s as I could afford, and in my third year I was going to develop a marketing plan. Developments in my day-job prevented me from devoting the necessary time to my art marketing plan, so I postponed it to this year. I intended to start teaching a few workshops in my fourth year, and that has already started, with one workshop at the Chautauqua Assembly in DeFuniak Springs in January, and now the mentoring sessions I will be doing this week in Apalachicola. I continue to be surprised at how effective that suggestion was when my career coach told me to put my first weekly plein air painting session on the calendar 4 years ago! Thank you, Saramae Dalferes!

Oil painting of potted plants and arbor in a nursery


At left is my impression of one of the colorful plant racks and displays covering the grounds of Clay Garden and Gift Shop, east of Seagrove Beach, where our local plein air painters group met this week. It was a bonanza of light and color, and the paintings of the nine painters attending reflected our ecstasy at being in this “eye-candy store”. The owner has invited us back!, A Progress Report

April 24, 2016 in Landscape by joanvienot

2016-0419 Picacho Peak State Park - Desert Mountain Ravine

Desert Mountain Ravine, Picacho Peak State Park, Tucson, AZ, painted at the 5th Annual Plein Air Convention. 11 x 14, oil on linen panel, painted en plein air. Click on image to go to Purchase Information Form.

When I began my website, I was documenting my progress by blogging. I committed to blogging because writing about my efforts seemed to cement my progress. As I look back on earlier works, I can see my growth in expression and craftsmanship. Now I am ready to step into another part of my career, sharing my work with a broader audience.

I have been invited to be a Florida’s Finest Plein Air Ambassador for the 2016 Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, the annual event of national renown held in the area of Apalachicola, FL, the second week of May every year. As an Ambassador, my job, along with 5 other artists selected from across the state, is to mentor newcomers to plein air painting, to introduce them to outdoor, on-site painting. Some may never have touched a brush before, and others may be accomplished studio artists who simply haven’t had the pleasure of painting outdoors yet. I’ll be available for any of three 2-hour time periods per day for 5 days, May 7 through May 11, 2016. Here’s where you sign up for your one-on-one 2-hour session: and go to Events and then Painting Stations. Sponsorships enable the incredibly low fee of only $25!! Following are my assigned locations:
Lighthouse, Port St. Joe, Saturday May 7, 2016
Riverfront Park, Apalachicola, Sunday May 8, 2016
Salinas Park, Cape San Blas, Monday May 9, 2016
Reid Avenue, Port St. Joe, Tuesday May 10, 2016
Reid Avenue, Port St. Joe, Wednesday May 11, 2016

I look forward to seeing you there!!

~~ Joan Vienot

Buy Original Art Instead of Prints – Here’s Why

April 3, 2016 in General, Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

I will never forget the moment I saw the original of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as a young adult. Overwhelmed, I felt its impact in the center of my chest, and tears came to my eyes. I had admired the expressionism in Van Gogh’s works since I was a teen, staring at my book of print reproductions of his paintings for years prior to that visit to the museum.

Why then, did the original have such an effect on me? I can only say that for me, the original has the spirit of the artist, his time and his vision. It was as if I was, in a way, actually meeting Vincent Van Gogh. Probably also some of it also was due to the fact that the painting had become iconic to me. But there was the visceral reality of the original painting, its physical presence, seeing the actual paint, the colors mixed by the artist, the brushstrokes, the canvas sometimes showing through the impasto, indicating the haste or the care taken, all of the things one sees when looking at an original painting, providing a glimpse into the artist’s experience. “This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,” van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, from France. [Excerpt from the Museum of Modern Art’s webpage,]

Isn’t that really what a painting is, a representation of what the artist “saw”, whether in actuality or in his or her mind? That is my intention in sharing my art, to share my vision, to share my experience of my environment, my own appreciation for what I see and how it all fits together, the light in the composition, and the way the elements work together – the lines, forms, colors, and textures. I share my thrill.

While it is true that printing processes are always improving, an original painting is so much more impactful than a print. People see differently than a camera. And in the technical process of reproducing the image of a painting, colors separate and forms change, with the mechanical image sometimes showing the paint layer underneath instead of the one on the surface. My own print-maker brings me multiple proofs, tweaking the cast, correcting a color here and there, and even still, sometimes I feel compelled to go back in with a brush to tighten up some of the details, or I have to make the decision to live with color separation in areas where there was a perfect blend in the original painting. My own photos miss values by as much as 2 steps on a 10-step scale, and fail miserably when it comes to capturing certain colors, most especially the pinks of sunset. The original painting has the energy, the color mixes, the form as the artist intended, while in the end, a reproduction is what we end up settling for.

The solution? Buy original art! Certainly buying prints is better than not buying art at all.  I can supply giclée prints from $50 to $650, depending on whether you want a good paper print or if you want a larger-than-original gallery-wrapped canvas. But a print is still a print. There are reasons to buy print reproductions, such as when something is whimsical or if your taste changes frequently. But it is absurd to buy a house for several hundred thousand dollars, or several million, and then to decorate it with cheap prints. Purchasing original art is a way of honoring yourself. You deserve original art, art that you pick out, art that transports you. Original art has an energy far exceeding that of a print.

I made a decision some time ago to hang nothing but original artwork in my own home. It enhances the energy in my home by tenfold, worth every penny. Every time I enter a room, I actually look at the art on my walls, and I have the same feelings that prompted me to buy it in the first place. Each piece commands attention and contributes to the energy in my home. This is in such contrast to the print calendars I have hanging here and there, the images certainly beautiful, chosen for their theme, but purchased as a necessity and easily ignored. Original works of art contribute far more than prints, in much the same way that real wood carries a stronger energy than veneer or faux finishes.

You and I are sensitive to energy. We can meet a person and know in our gut, instantly, whether we have “good chemistry”. The same is true of inanimate objects, the stuff we surround ourselves with. It’s the reason we want to escape from our plastic-and-concrete workplaces to visit the scenic wonderland of nature. Our home is our haven, and we should surround ourselves with energies that enhance our sense of well-being and our vitality. We honor ourselves by purchasing original art.


Oil painting of the brook line and shadow patterns at Lincoln Park in Valparaiso, FL

Click on image for purchase information.

Plein air painting is risky — sometimes the light changes so fast you feel like you are chasing it. But I struck gold with the scene I chose when I joined the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters on Wednesday for our weekly outing this week. We painted at Lincoln Park in Valparaiso, Florida. It had been raining for several days over the previous week and weekend — my garbage can had 18″ of rain in it (warranting yet another note to my garbage man to always turn it over after emptying!). The grassy earth was like a wet sponge, sinking underfoot, each step flooding my painting Crocs. I set up my easel beside the purple splash of a wild iris blooming near the brook at the edge of the park. I was exhilarated by the play of light and shadow in the warmth of the spring day.