Completion of Plein Air Paintings in the Studio

July 13, 2014 in Landscape, Plein Air

I’ve heard of certain art described as being painted “in the style of plein air”, but that description describes nothing, because plein air is not a style.  Some plein air artists paint in a more abstracted style, and some paint very representationally. Plein air painting, by definition, is painting in open air, on-site. It describes an activity as well as the painting produced during that activity. Plein air artists focus on capturing some aspect of the actual fleeting light. Usually the subject and the artist are at the mercy of the elements and the environment, but there are no rules — if the weather or bugs are nasty, the artist might paint from inside his car.  But very little, if any work, is done in the studio. When invitations are given for plein air works to be formally shown, usually the requirement is that most of the painting have been done outdoors, on site, from life, anywhere from 80% of the painting painting en plein air, to the purist’s position of 100% painted on site.

As for my plein work, occasionally I will correct a shape or add a detail in the studio, but usually my plein air paintings are fully completed outdoors, on site. Like many plein air artists, I have many plein air paintings stacked in my studio that for one reason or another, I consider unfinished, or with which I feel less than satisfied as far as the painting representing my impression of the scene and setting.  Some have compositional problems, because in addition to the value patterns showing the play of light, there are so many design elements to consider – line, shape, size, position, color, texture, and density, as well as the compositional principles of balance, rhythm, and harmony.

So this week when I was chased back indoors by some biting yellow flies, I worked in the studio, making a few corrections to a plein air painting I had produced in a Laurel Daniel workshop this spring. I removed a pesky, distracting “V”, made the greens more yellow and less green, and I added a little more light in the background, and a red boat shape.  The composition is more effective now, and more clearly represents my impression of the morning view, except for the boat of course, which simply adds interest.

2014-0425 Muted Perspective, Unfinished

As initially painted en plein air, the view from Gascoigne Bluff, St. Simons Island, Georgia

Oil painting of Gascoigne Bay looking through the trees and brush

Completed painting of the view from Gascoigne Bluff, St. Simons Island, Georgia

 

Commissioned Works En Plein Air

June 6, 2014 in Landscape, Plein Air

I recently completed two commissioned assignments in which specific subjects were requested.  In the first case, a specific style also was requested.  Fortunately for me, the stylistic samples I was given, ranged from the light and airy scenes of the French Impressionists to a piece of “outsider art” which had that sort of purely expressive sense of being painted by an artist who has not had formal training.  I was confident I could paint within that wide of a range!

The location of the first commissioned piece was in the gardens at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet, at a wedding reception, and my job was to paint the bride and groom’s first dance.  When I arrived to get the background started, the Forrest Williams band was setting up, and the people from Grayton Beach Catering were bustling about.  My background was blocked in when the first guests arrived, and I was enjoying the band singing “She’s as Sweet as Tupelo Honey”.  By the time the guests started arriving, my 10×8 painting was well underway, and a few of the guests would wander over and watch as I worked.  I let one of the children put some color on the bottom part.  When the bride and groom were announced and made their entrance onto the dance floor, I put down my brush and picked up my sketchpad and my camera.  After the dance, I laid in the figures on my nearly finished background and then finished the details in the studio using my sketch and my photos for reference.  Afterwards, I decided to paint another painting in the studio, making effort to paint in a more “Impressionist” style, with layers of short, patterned brushstrokes loaded with color, which was great fun.

Sketch of couple dancing outdoors

Plein air sketch

Oil Painting of Couple Dancing Outdoors by Bridge, Painted en Plein Air

Plein air painting, details in studio

Oil Painting of Couple Dancing Outdoors by Bridge, Impressionist Style

Studio painting

For mobile viewing

Sketch of couple dancing outdoors

Plein air

Oil Painting of Couple Dancing Outdoors by Bridge, Painted en Plein Air

Plein air

Oil Painting of Couple Dancing Outdoors by Bridge, Impressionist Style

Studio

 

The second commission was for Channing Gardner, a real estate agent, for a gift for his client.  My task was to paint the Seagrove Beach property as it was when it was purchased, before anything was built on it.  It took me two mornings to complete it, because of the changing light and the heat.  I opted for a wider format, painting it 12×24, which allowed me to include more of the coastal development to contrast with the empty lot.

Oil painting of central Seagrove Beach westward towards Seaside, showing recently purchased empty lot

June is my busiest time of year in my day job, managing my pool service business, so I was not able to join the local plein air painters yet this summer until things lightened up this week.  We met near the pond at Mystic Port, a small collection of shops and restaurants north of Grayton Beach, Florida.  I was intrigued by the fountain, but never having painted one, I gladly accepted the suggestion of a more experienced artist, to put the splash on the surface of the water and then take a palette knife and drag upwards.  I am happy with the results — I can hearing the water falling.  Other works by our group on that day can be found on our Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.520412828081717.1073741866.285985251524477&type=1.

Oil painting of the fountain splashing at Mystic Port, Grayton Beach, FL

Learning to See Better through Plein Air Painting

May 20, 2014 in Landscape, Plein Air

2014-0508 Thumbnail Sketch, Boat in Drydock2014-0513 Value Sketch, Fishing BoatsDon Demers, one of my workshop instructors last week, tongue in cheek, said “Plein air painting creates bad drivers.”  He explained the hazard, that as a practicing plein air painter, one could be driving along and become mesmerized, staring at the shape or color of something, perhaps even something so interesting as the shadow of an underpass.  We all laughed of course, but I recognize the truth of his statement.  After practicing plein air painting for 8 days, I can’t look anywhere now without noticing wonderful value contrasts, delicious color intensities, and patterns of light leading my eye through compositions waiting to be painted.

The first workshop I attended was by invitation.  Twelve painters were selected to be in the “pilot” course for the Apalachicola School of Art Plein Air Academy.  Master plein air artist Don Demers is designing the curriculum, and Joe Taylor of the Apalachicola School of Art is planning the logistics.  Together they will come up with a course to be offered as professional development for the advanced plein air painter.  Don spent a good bit of time talking with each of us, as well as offering constructive tips with our paintings.  Of most practical value to me was his suggestion to set intention before starting a painting, and then to stick to that intention.  He suggested we draw “thumbnail sketches” of our intended paintings first, studying the value relationships and evaluating whether the composition would work as a whole, before we spent 3 hours painting it.  Some of my sketches progressed into paintings, some were mere studies of shapes or ideas discarded as perhaps too complicated or logistically difficult (the one above left required me to stand in an ant pile; the one above right was too complicated for my limited knowledge of fishing boats).

I learned something about photography after doing one such value study, and that is that my iPhone camera does not see the light the way I do.  In fact my camera hardly picked up the power of the light at all.  Here’s a comparison:

2014-0509 Value Sketch, Docked Sailboat iPhoto of Sailboat I Sketched

I completed two paintings and a couple of studies in the Plein Air Academy workshop.  Integrating what I am learning is always difficult — there has to be a period of intense, grinding focus, because painting is for the most part so visceral, and newly learned information so very intellectual.  I found myself completely exhausted by the end of the first several days.  I must have had every muscle in my body tensed as I tried to incorporate what I was learning.  I literally came home, ate supper, and went straight to bed, for the first 3 days.

Here are a few of my paintings from the Apalachicola School of Art Plein Air Academy workshop.

2014-0511 Typical page of Notes

Typical page of notes

.2014-0506 Port St. Joe Marina.2014-0508 Mooring Buoy.

 

2014-0507 Value Sketch, Marsh.2014-0507 Color sketch for Marsh.2014-0507 Marsh

 

Over the next few days I attended the Forgotten Coast En Plein Air event workshop with Greg LaRock and Ken Dewaard.  I wish I could remember everything they said.  It was fun to watch the different approaches of two accomplished artists.  Both were very strong on compositional tips.  LaRock often mentioned ways to lead the viewer’s eye through the painting, and Dewaard pointed out subtle color changes to look for, like the change in the tint of shadows depending on how much of the sky color they might be acquiring, or how much of the color of the ground.  Hopefully I absorbed a lot of it, even though I can’t recite it.  Below are the paintings I produced during their workshop.  In the first one, my challenge was to make the pile of rubble, mostly chunks of concrete, look interesting, like a rocky shoreline.  The paintings of the boats  and of the shirts for sale both challenged me to simplify.

2014-0511 Value Sketch, Rocky Shoreline 2014-0511 Port St. Joe Rock-Lined Harbor 2014-0512 Carrabelle Launch

 

2014-0513 Value Sketch, Shirts For Sale 2014-0513 T-Shirts for Sale, Apalachicola

I actually had energy to paint a few small studies outside of class, the last several days, below.  Apologies for shooting the photos slightly crooked!

2014-05 Morning Light, Two-Mile Channel Oil painting of evening light on Two-Mile Channel, Apalachicola, FL Oil painting of full moon rising over Two-Mile Channel, Apalachicola, FL

 

And now back to my day-job!  But the shadows of those underpasses are starting to look mighty interesting!!

 

My Drawing Was Used to Illustrate a Berks Story Project

April 20, 2014 in Figure Drawing, Other Artists

www.joanvienot.comWell, for 2 seconds anyway, but still, it’s fun to have been involved!  It’s in a Berks Story Project interview with author/adventurer Cindy Ross, at http://www.berksstoryproject.com/#!cindy-ross/cmzr.  It all began last February when out of the blue, I received an email by way of the contact form on my website:

Hi Joan,
I’m an independent multimedia producer in Reading, PA. I’m writing to ask your permission to use one of your life drawings in one of my forthcoming productions. It is a short video documentary, in the story-telling style of The Moth, about how a woman resolved her conflicts with her father over her choices in life. She mentions in the video that she worked for a number of years as a life drawing model. I would like to show a couple of examples of figure drawings in that section of the video, including this drawing of yours:

http://joanvienot.com/figure-drawing/figure-drawing-how-lucky-am-i-1660#.UvADyvY29Ng
(top left)

The final video will be archived on our web site, berksstoryproject.com. The video will also appear on the web site of our local community access TV station, BCTV.org.

Unfortunately, though, I cannot pay a license fee, but I would certainly give proper credit. The Berks Story Project is a personal project and a labor of love for me and my co-producer. We make no money producing the videos, and we don’t charge viewers fees to watch them.

Please let me know either way whether you will grant us permission to use the drawing.

Sincerely,
David Walker

I was intrigued by the project, which their Facebook page describes as being about the extraordinary stories of ordinary people in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The Berks Story Project is a growing collection of short multimedia stories about people in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Created in 2009 by David Walker, the project was inspired by intimate first-person narratives told on radio programs such as Story Corps and This American Life. Jane Palmer joined David in 2012 as co-producer. Our mission is to share the extraordinary personal stories of ordinary people in our own community. These are stories about love and war, tragedy, hope and aspiration, dreams lost and found — the universal themes that bind us all. We find them in every corner of Berks, wherever people are willing to open up about a compelling, transformational experience. Joined together like the patches of a quilt, the stories form an evolving narrative of this extraordinary place.

Cindy Ross writes a blog at cindyrosstraveler.com.  Here’s The Berks Story Project documentary about Cindy Ross, “What Cindy Wants”.  My drawing is shown for about 2 seconds at 3:06, along with drawings by other artists:

Acceptance into A+Art 2014 Top of the Class Juried Show

April 12, 2014 in Landscape

I am pleased to report that both of the paintings I entered in the A+Art  2014 Top of the Class Juried Show were accepted.  It is a beautiful show of only 37 works, juried from 85 entries.  The juror and judge was Brian Jekel, an instructor at Pensacola Christian College.  It is an honor to be showing alongside the works of Susan Lucas, Charlotte Arnold, Melody Bogle, Heather Clements, Donnelle Clark, Lynn Wilson, Ann Welch, and Theresia McInnis, the award winners and honorable mentions, and beside the many other talented artists whose work was accepted, all members of the Local Arts Agency, Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.  McInnis won Best in Show with ‘Bromeliads Gone Wild’, winning the $500 Trustmark Bank Award and a solo show of her own in 2015.  Lucas won the Livingston Financial Planning $250 Award of Merit, Clements won the Watercolor UPS Store $250 Award of Merit, and Arnold won the Hidden Lantern Bookstore $250 Award of Merit.  The show will be exhibited at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, until May 30, 2014.  Hours are M-F, 9:00 to 4:00.

Oil painting of Tucker Bayou in warm tones, stylized from photo app, www.joanvienot.com

“Tucker Bayou”, 30 x 40 x 2, oil painting on gallery-wrapped stretched canvas

Oil painting of the dune forest and the rose-tinted grasses bordering Western Lake in Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

Grayton Beach Rosy Grasses, 12 x 36 x 3/4 framed oil painting on stretched canvas

Studying from Morgan Samuel Price

March 30, 2014 in Landscape, Plein Air

2014-0323 Apalach Afternoon Behind the Island

The view from where I stayed

2014-0324 Coombs Inn

Coombs Inn and the Church

2014-0325 Scrub Oak Grove

Scrub Oak Grove, St. George Island

2014-0326 Apalachicola Marina

At the Marina Under the Bridge

2014-0327 Scipio Creek

Scipio Creek

2014-0328 Rainy Day at 'Up the Creek'

“N 2 Deep”

 

Last week I attended a plein air painting workshop in Apalachicola, Florida, taught by Morgan Samuel Price. The location of this fishing village is just two hours from my home, an easy drive but far enough away that I chose to stay in a rental property rather than commute. I learned so much I hardly know where to begin.  It will probably take me years to assimilate it. The difficult thing about an intense learning situation, is that much of it is communicated abstractly in words and absorbed into the left brain, while painting is performed on the right side of the brain. Fortunately, Morgan demonstrated during and after each lecture, to help us make right-brain sense of the concepts she was teaching. And she didn’t seem to mind repeating answers while each of us gained just enough understanding to ask the same question the previous student had just asked. “Morgan, what colors are you using now?” “Ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, and hansa yellow,” Morgan would answer. And the next student would ask, “Morgan, what colors did you mix to get this color?” And Morgan would patiently answer, “Ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, and hansa yellow.” To be fair, though, the different colors we were asking about were entirely different colors — it’s just that Morgan is a wizard at color mixing, and can make any color on the palette out of ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, and hansa yellow.

The first day, Morgan taught us about various materials and how to hold the brush for different angles of brushstrokes, and she taught us about color value, intensity, and temperature. She taught us more about those topicss every single day. She also taught us about  color in context, about composition, about creating the illusion of receding space, how light falls on horizontal surfaces vs vertical surfaces, how the eye moves through a painting, and even how to doodle on a scratchpad that sits by the telephone. She taught us about clarity of value and precision of shape. She taught with ease and good humor.  And she patiently answered again, “Ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, and hansa yellow.”

We had some good sunshine the weekend before the class, but our only sunny day during the class was the first day, Monday. After watching Morgan paint a simple alleyway with so many luscious values and such obvious perspective, making it look oh-so-easy, she turned us loose to paint in the afternoon. I choose the bright yellow siding of the Inn where everyone else was staying, and tried to capture the perspective of the sidewalk receding toward the church in the background. Even in my frustration (left brain / right brain confusion), I already had begun to learn. It is in the struggle that I find I truly learn, whether the painting shows that learning or not.  There is some confusion between the palm tree and the porch roof which makes the porch roof look like it is angled wrong — it’s not.  But as we joked in class, sometimes we need arrows and words printed on our painting to explain different elements.  My painting of the Inn could use several arrows.

The next day we drove to St. George Island, and I painted a grove of scrub oaks which had a play of light on the tree trunks that interested me.  I struggled with that light, but Morgan said to be definite with it — so I put down my tentative little brush and made some bold swaths of light, giving it much more of the feel that I wanted.

On Wednesday, two of the other students and I got lost from the rest of the class.  We painted near the base of the bridge to SGI, at a marina.  I painted on 16×20 canvas panel instead of my usual 8×10. I enjoyed using bigger brushes, but found myself being very stingy in mixing my colors, never mixing enough paint.  It’s difficult to paint with no paint on your brush.

Thursday found us at Scipio Creek, at another marina at the north edge of Apalachicola.  The pelicans and seagulls put on a continuous show for us while we caught the hazy pinks and lavenders in the middle ground and the muted grays in the distance, in contrast with the richer colors and more contrasting values in the foreground.

And then, sadly, it was Friday.  I painted beneath the overhanging deck of ‘Up the Creek’ Restaurant, with a vicious thunderstorm popping lightning all around me.  Nearby strikes three times chased me back further underneath to the center of the marine storage area under the building, which I imagined was safer.  All of the colors of my scene were washed out, at times it being so dark there was no color at all.  The last thing I painted were the reedy grasses and trees in the background, when suddenly I realized it was time to critique, so I packed up and hurried back.  I will dim the intensity of color on that foliage to make it recede more — it’s a little too bright, like the sun is shining on it, which it wasn’t.

A plug for my excellent host, the owner of the property where I stayed, Robert Lindsley:  Visit the Robert Lindsley Studio and Gallery at 15 Avenue E near the waterfront in Apalachicola.  And to the VRBO agent, my new friend Mike Klema — just search “VRBO Apalachicola” for Vacation Rentals By Owner, and Mike’s units will come up.  He was very accommodating, and I loved my place behind the island, right on US 98!  I had the thrill of seeing both the sunrises and the sunsets, as well as the parade of fishing boats every morning, and the abundant species of birds.  I’ve posted below a few photographs of my week, which all in all I enjoyed very much.

 

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunset

Sunset

Low tide

Low tide

Atmospheric scenery

Atmospheric scenery

Fishing boat

Fishing boat

Eagle below my house

Eagle below my house

Demo in the alley

Demo in the alley

Class and demo on the beach

Class and demo on the beach

Morgan critiquing

Morgan critiquing

iPhonography Bicycle

iPhonography Bicycle

iPhonography Grasses

iPhonography Grasses

Plein Air to Colorado and Back

March 6, 2014 in Landscape, Photography, Plein Air

Photograph of the moon setting over Buffalo Mountain, in Silverthorne, CO, with the alpenglow preceding the sunrise

Photograph, moon setting over Buffalo Mountain in Silverthorne, CO, in the alpenglow of the sunrise

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that this year I have the intention of attending as many workshops as I can afford, to learn as much as I can from artists whose work I admire.  At the very least, if i am traveling anywhere, I am justifying it by taking my paints.

Oil painting of the view from Four Amigos at Silverthorne, Colorado

So last month when I traveled to Colorado for my Dad’s 94th birthday and then to the mountains to play in the snow with my two sisters and their families, I took my Guerrilla Painter’s Box, with every intention of painting every day.  I had forgotten that where there is snow, then it probably will be snowing!  So the light was too dim for inspired painting, and the weather suitable only for playing in the snow, until the last day I was there, when the sun finally came out.  I stepped out onto the front balcony and caught the view of the mountains across the way.  I left that little 5 x 7 painting there with my sister as a small thank you for the adventures.

Oil painting of a snowy Colorado mountain sceneI took a lot of photos, thinking I would paint more snow scenes later, but life has been hectic since I returned, so I only managed one, at left.

Yesterday I again painted with th Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters group in my home area in Florida.  We met at Baytowne in Sandestin, FL, and I painted the brightly colored shops reflecting into the pond.  It was chilly, and the light was low, with rain predicted, but the lake was flat and the reflections just a bit choppy.  To brighten my colors, I choose a canvas I had under painted orange, and I allowed some of the orange to show through my colors, and I scratched off some of the paint in places where I wanted lines, so the lines shine a bright orange.

Oil painting of the shops at Baytowne in sandestin, FL, reflected in the lakWe met near the fountain for our critique.  Another artist had the misfortune of dropping his painting and the edge of it sliced a diagonal scrape across the face of my painting, so I had some repairing to do afterwards. I am happy to report that the painting is no worse for the wear.  sometimes these sorts of things happen when you are painting outdoors — it’s all just part of the experience, where things are never entirely under control.

Painting Plein Air in Rosemary Beach

February 3, 2014 in Landscape, Plein Air

Oil painting in purple and yellow, showing the Rosemary Beach Town Hall and Post Office, from Highway 30AWhat a difference in the weather this weekend!  After an ice storm paralyzed the Deep South midweek, I was so happy to be painting in my shirtsleeves on Saturday!  And what a change from last weekend, when I was painting at the Chautauqua Festival in my snowsuit!

The Rosemary Beach Foundation offers a “Girls Getaway on Superbowl weekend, and plein air painters were invited to paint there.  This made the third weekend in a row for me to be painting plein air.  I painted for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I was out in the open, near the road and near the sidewalk, so I had many visitors, making it a fun and interesting day.  I painted the Town Hall and Post Office, at right.  Those buildings actually are white, but what interested me was the face of the Post Office, showing the golden light reflected from the side wall of the Town Hall. From where I was standing, I couldn’t actually see the directly lit side of the Town Hall.  I could see the shady sides of both buildings.  To make the reflected light really obvious, I painted both buildings lavendar.

After lunch, I turned 180º and began painting the street scene northward on North Barrett Square, from Wild Olives towards the Hidden Lantern Gallery where our finished paintings were being displayed.  I worked quickly, trying to catch the gist of the architecture.  Clouds had come so the shadows and lighting I had enjoyed in the morning were diffuse.  I could see that my perspective was warped, but I wasn’t terribly invested in the painting as a finished product.  I continued painting in order to learn how to handle my brushes and make convincing architectural shapes.

Oil painting of the view north near Wild Olives on North Barrett Square in Rosemary Beach, FloridaA student on a bicycle approached and we talked a little and I learned he was an artist.  I asked him his website, but he said he was not yet that “advanced”.  So I told him he could see more of our work in front of the Gallery, which he apparently viewed and then came back to further engage me. He started by saying, “I disagree with what you are doing.”  I should have bid him adieu right then and there, but I was intrigued, and gave him my attention.  He offered his limited view of creativity, that there was no value in painting what someone else had already created, such as architecture.  It sounded like this might not be the first time he had given this speech, and it sounded like some of the pointless arguments I had heard in college, as to what is “legitimate” art.

By this young man’s definition, I doubt that he would have appreciation for a musician playing a symphony written by someone else, or a dancer performing someone else’s choreography.  I lad lost interest as soon as he said he didn’t paint things that were “already painted”.  But he pressed his point until I actually started to get irked.  It became clear that his intention was to dismiss plein air painting, and to elevate his style of expression, whatever that is. I abhor “exclusive” thinking.

One of the things I have so enjoyed among nearly all of the artists I have met at this “mature” (middle-aged) point in my life, is their support and encouragement of each other. an attitude of INclusion, not EXclusion..  I believe that no artist should be discouraged from whatever path they are on at the moment, and their work should not be judged as to its “legitimacy”, but rather that anyone making any effort to express themselves visually, should be encouraged, that all artistic expression should be supported and nurtured.  In fact I think that everyone is an artist, and we ought to help each other retrieve that creative spirit, whether singers, or carvers, or painters, or poets.  It is a shame that so many people, somewhere along the way, stop trying. I guess it takes a good streak of stubbornness to retain creative drive, because somewhere along the way, every creative person must overcome the energy of those claiming their expression to not be “good” enough, or expressive enough, or “legitimate”.  It was when this student dismissed my protests by pronouncing “The truth hurts”, that I realized the depth of his arrogance.  I told the young man that it was better to support and encourage other artists, and not to judge their efforts and try to discourage them.

I thought it was going to rain the next day, so I stayed in my studio, and I repainted the scene I had been painting the day before, using black and white photo references (above right).  Later that day, I about dropped my teeth when I drove back to the Hidden Lantern to pick up the painting I had done the day before, discovering that the street was made of dark gray brick-pavers, not the red-orange color I had painted.  It never even occurred to me that they might be something different — red-orange seemed so right!  So there you are, a true enough representation of the shapes that interested me, coupled with my own sense of what the street “should” look like, Ha!  Another fun thing about plein air painting, or even studio painting from photo references after doing a plein air study, is that if I paint the same scene again, even from the same vantage point, it would turn out to be a completely different painting.

 

30A Songwriters, Chautauqua, and Girls Getaway, an Exciting 3 Weeks

January 21, 2014 in Landscape, Plein Air

Oil painting of the view from the Oak Marina at Niceville, FloridaI am painting 3 weekends in a row, or at least I plan to.  Let’s just say I’m taking my vitamins, in preparation for that much painting!

Last week I went to the Oak Marina, in Niceville, for the weekly outing with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters.  It was a bit breezy and chilly, but nothing like the 40 hours below freezing the week before!  I dare say no one here in Northwest Florida was out painting that week!  I know I wasn’t — I was huddled by the fireplace.  This week I just put on my wind pants and turned up my collar.

I was working on a canvas panel that I had underpainted with a sort of a russet color acrylic, which initially I regretted, because it was difficult to cover when I was trying to paint my sky.  Later in the painting I achieved the results I had wanted, when I scratched down to the underpainting for the detail lines.  Accomplished fellow painter Charlotte Arnold told me to feather downward on the juicy paint to turn my splotches into Spanish moss, on the huge oak bordering my painting.

Oil painting of eucalyptus in a blue pot at Grayt Grounds of Monet MonetThis past weekend was highlighted by the annual 30A Songwriters Festival, one of two amazing festivals produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance, the area arts organization here where I live.  I was privileged to work with my friend Leslie Kolovich who produces podcast interviews.  She had several singer-songwriter artists and groups in her studio over the weekend, who performed live and impromptu for us.  You can listen to those podcasts at www.supradioshow.com.  Below is a quick iPhone photo of THE Jeep Rosenberg being interviewed (I love this job).

photo-7
.....
Oil painting of Chinese lion statue at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet

In the mornings I painted plein air in the gardens at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet, the wonderful coffeeshop and event venue that is displaying some of my work.  They put my work on easels throughout the gardens, for the weekenders strolling through with their coffee, who chatted with me while I painted.  It was downright cold the first day, so I looked like the Michelin Man, dressed in my quilted snowsuit.  The second morning was much warmer, and I enjoyed the sounds of a band playing for the coffeeshop patrons while I painted.  Grayt Grounds is selling my work online too:  Click here!

This weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, January 24-25-26, 2014, I will be painting “on the circle” around the lake in DeFuniak Springs, FL, for the Chautauqua Festival.  A number of painters from our local plein air group will be there, as well as some traveling specifically for this event.  The festival has dedicated a room for us to hang our wet paintings, and has invited us to show our work.  On Friday the 24th, I also will be attending the opening reception for the A+Art “Outdoor Magic” exhibit of plein air paintings at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College.  I might still be in my painting clothes!!

And the weekend after that, on Superbowl weekend, I will be painting in Rosemary Beach, during the Girls Getaway, again with other local plein air painters.

Anyone can paint at these events.  If you want to paint with us, you may contact me through this website and I will put you in touch Beckie Perrott, who graciously informs us of all these plein air opportunities.

This last painting I made this weekend, was one of the two stone Chinese lion statues in the gardens at Grayt Grounds.  With the typical bugged-out eyes, and a large pearl in his mouth, this iconic statue was harder to paint than I thought it would be.  I ended up not painting much of the surrounding foliage, spending most of the time trying to capture his face.  This lion was different than most of this type.  Most of these are in pairs, as is this set, and the male lion has a ball under his right foot, and the female an inverted cub under her left foot, but this lion has a four-legged critter sitting under his right foot, a critter I could not identify.  I’ll have to ask the owner, who owns the jewelry store next to the coffeeshop.

Most of my paintings and images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

 

Winter Solstice, Deja Vu, Beginning Again

December 22, 2013 in Landscape, Plein Air

2013-1220 Labyrinth

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the day in the northern hemisphere when daylight is shortest, exactly one full year after the ancient Mayan calendar rolled over and began a new cycle.  2013 has been a new beginning for me, a year when I have manifested my decision to start plein air painting, and to become a full-time artist at least two days a week by the end of the year.  I cannot say that my two-days-a-week of being a full-time artist are 48 hours in a row, but rather, a few hours here and a few hours there over the course of the week, but most certainly taking up at least 16 “work time” hours.  Not all of it is actually the production of artworks;  some of it is framing and presentation, of course blogging, Facebook networking and looking at other artists’ works and art news, studying, taking a workshop, supporting the arts by attending openings and events locally, and giving art instruction.  Another significant part is the nourishment of my spirit, which I have come to realize is closely tied to my life as an artist, and must be factored in as a necessary investment of my time.  As I become aware of various energies and energetic systems, I find my senses heightened, and my creative energy has become more of a compulsion, so that I don’t just WANT to create, I MUST create.  My joy has multiplied exponentially.

I celebrated the Winter Solstice yesterday with a group of dear friends who share a commonality of spirit.  First we had breakfast at my house – cantaloupe, pineapple,cheese, croissants, and coffee and hot tea – with stimulating conversation punctuated by a visit from a young man who said his name was Ryan, who seemed to appreciate our conversation but wouldn’t have anything to eat.  He did say it was refreshing to be treated nicely.  He gave us some literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  His visit was limited by our plans to meet another dear friend at a labyrinth nearby, our intention to be walking it at the exact moment of Solstice, which was 11:11 AM Central Standard Time.  The labyrinth is on private property in a gated community, and we had received permission to use it.

After Leslie read us an invocation to set Sacred Space, Caroling began her walk, and after a respectful distance each of us followed — Maddie, Mary, Eda, Leslie, and myself.  This labyrinth meanders in a complex, continuous path from the outside to the center, with 11 circuits through four quadrants of a perfect circle.  You eventually end up in the middle, and then make your way back out again.  Your mental state is your own — some ponder the great questions of the universe, some simply commune with nature.   You can walk as fast or as slowly as you want, and if you have a question in your mind, by the time you are done with your walk, you probably have some clarity, or at the very least, peace.  We walked as individuals, as slowly or as fast as we wanted, sometimes overtaking each other, sometimes completely stopping for a moment or two.  Sometimes we passed by each other on adjacent paths, or even met each other on the same path, always acknowledging and honoring each other, perhaps with a nod, perhaps with a bow, and occasionally exchanging a sweet hug, mostly in silence.

My thoughts in the labyrinth often returned to review the changes in my life over the past year, especially spiritually and artistically, growth in so many ways, strengthening of old relationships and forging of new ones, some of it hesitant, some of it bold.  Eileen, Cheri, Donnelle, Felicia, Michael, Colleen, Beckie, Melissa, Susan, Miffie, Ginny, Jennifer, Bob, Steve, Saramae, Sean, Anne, Ed, Weezie, Sandra, another Mary, Pat, and so, so many more, a whole crowd of people, from the past too — were your ears burning?  And as I walked the winding path, it occurred to me that this path was familiar, hadn’t I been here before?  But of course I had — the path right next to me, where I had just been, had the same scenery, but it was a different path, and I was on another, sometimes going the same direction, sometimes the opposite direction, sometimes in light, sometimes in shadow, a metaphor for my life, a metaphor for my year.  My mind would wander, and then return to the present moment with the birds flitting and chirping in the surrounding forest, and my friends playing and pondering on their walks nearby, and I would have that odd feeling of deja vu and realize I was still here, on yet another circuit of the labyrinth, another circuit of my life, beginning another year of growth and expansion.

My goals for this new year are simple:  to continue on my present course, and to take as many workshops as I can afford, from plein air artists whose work I admire.  So far I already have signed up for a workshop with Laurel Daniel and one with Morgan Samuel Price and I confess, I am more than a little excited about this.  It’s going to be a fantastic year!  So to all, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Joyous Kwanzaa, Magical Solstice, and Happy Holidays!  And also to all, Happy New Year!

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The above photo of my friends in the labyrinth, was altered using a photo app called “My Sketch”.  The plein air paintings below were completed in mid-November, the first two, and the other two this past week, in mid-December.

Oil painting of a creek running into Mack Bayou, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida Oil painting, impression of a creek running into Mack Bayou, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
 2013-1218 Grayton Beach State Park Dune Scrub  Oil painting of the dunes at Grayton Beach State Park, in the winter