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 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.
Joan 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.