Finding a Mentor: Morgan Samuel Price

September 1, 2017 in Landscape, Plein Air

I started plein air painting four years ago. I painted in the Quickdraw at the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, my first such event. I knew none of the artists. Afterwards, I chanced to be lunching at the table next to the one where master painter Morgan Samuel Price was sitting. Morgan had just won an award in the Quickdraw. My friend and I introduced ourselves and began talking with her, the usual niceties. Afterwards, I looked up her website to see who she was, and I was appropriately amazed by her paintings, both the skill and the affect. I was thrilled when I found out that she was offering a plein air painting workshop in Apalachicola that next spring. Apalachicola is only 100 miles away from my home. It is a village with an interesting history, and great painting subjects ranging from the working shrimping trawlers and oystering boats to decrepit shotgun houses and restored mansions. What a great place to take my first workshop in plein air painting! I blogged about Morgan’s amazing patience – that was in March of 2014.

I took two more workshops from Morgan – one the next year, in Apalachicola, and one last year, in Taos. This year I signed up to take her workshop in Dahlonega, Georgia, in October. I like learning to paint in different locations – it forces me to learn to paint things that are new to me. I got a call from Morgan in late spring, saying that she had space in her Estes Park workshop. I decided to go. Having grown up in Colorado, I was familiar with Estes Park, but I had not looked at it with artist’s eyes in over 40 years, and certainly not with plein air painter’s eyes. I had gone to Estes Park for a family get-together for my Dad’s 90th birthday, but it was wintertime, and the landscape is completely different when covered with snow. So I was completely agog as we drove Hwy 36 through the foothills to Lyons and then up the North St. Vrain Canyon. My awe grew as we continued up the canyon to finally stop at a quaint cabin just north of Estes Park, which would be home base for the week.

Whether it was the demos, the instruction, my awe with the geography, or simply the good company, and no doubt a combination of all that, I enjoyed this workshop like no other, and feel that I learned volumes! And that brings me to the reason I am writing this blog, which is to attest to the value of finding a mentor and repeatedly studying with that person. Of course it certainly helps if the mentor is a master painter!

With a good mentor, you develop a trusting relationship, which makes you more receptive to their suggestions and criticism, and more self-confident in your painting. You become better at the language of painting, better at explaining your challenges, better at asking the right questions, and you learn to observe at the right times, and to pay attention to what has previously eluded you. You even learn better teaching progressions for your own workshops. You become more in tune with your own motivations and you paint with more personal authority, trusting your instinct more. And you develop a stronger eye for assessing your own work, as well as that of others. I’m not saying there isn’t value in taking workshops from different artists — I have learned from a number of instructors. But the value in a mentor is the trusting relationship that develops, which makes it possible to listen to their feedback without feeling as defensive. I confess I still have some resistance, still wanting to justify why I painted something less effectively than I could, but I am able to understand and agree much more than I used to. I also am acquiring attitudes and standards of excellence which will be helpful to me in my career.

I can’t wait to get into the studio now and start working on larger paintings! The grandeur of the glacier-carved Rockies, especially on Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road, simply begs for large canvases. Below are the studies I did in this workshop.

Oil painting of the light on the tree behind Cynthia's cabin Montevideo  Oil painting of Book Cliffs before the storm

Oil painting of the falls cascading over the jumble of boulders in the Fall River Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park  Oil painting of the Big Thompson River below the cliffs at Sleepy Hollow Park, below Estes Park

Oil painting of a grove of aspen trees near Estes Park, Colorado  Oil painting of the cliffs at Sleepy Hollow Park, with backlit trees and grasses  Oil painting of the late afternoon light on the meadow at Moraine Park, above Estes Park

As always, contact me if you are interested in purchasing my work.

I am starting to more and more realize the value of paint sketches. Even when they don’t seem to have any merit at all – I always have learned from them. Below are some of my paint sketches. In the first one, I was looking for the right colors for the mountain and the sky. In the second, I was studying the colors and shapes of some rocks, and in the third, I was looking at the difference between ponderosa pines and blue spruce.

    

 

Habits and Routines in the Artistic Process

August 18, 2017 in Figure Drawing, Landscape, Plein Air

I am struggling with an absence of routine. Without it, certain basic maintenance tasks are neglected. I like to get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, read something inspirational, and write my 5 gratitudes, and do a short meditation before I get my day underway. But lately I have been getting sidetracked into the day’s business as soon as I get my coffee — starting with email correspondence, news, and social media updates, and I never get back to my morning quiet time. My life has been complicated by a pesky knee injury which has required a good deal of physical therapy and greatly reduced my physical activity. I am coming out of that phase in my life, increasing my activity, improving my nutrition, and I intend to restore routine to my life.

I used to blog weekly. I couldn’t believe my eyes this morning when I saw that my last post was 2 months ago. This was a certain message that I need to re-organize my life.

It’s not that I haven’t gotten things done, or that I have neglected my spiritual and psychological health. But I have neglected a lot of things, obviously blogging being one of them.

So why does that matter? Because blogging is one of my chief way of assessing progress, with a little introspection on the side. Self-assessment is essential for monitoring progress.

In brief, projects accomplished and actions taken over the past two months:

  • Continued coordinating and attending weekly Wednesday morning plein air painting excursions with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, with the goal of maintaining community among the painters, and maintaining if not improving my skills.
  • Organized and hung a small exhibit of works by the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters in the lobby of Northwest Florida State College South Walton Center, with the goal of constantly exposing young minds to plein air painting, and with the end goal of creating appreciation for the genre, encouraging young artists, and perhaps inviting future participation and patronage.
  • Served as coordinator for a juried exhibit of plein air paintings for my local arts alliance at the Foster Gallery, preliminary to an event we are planning for this fall.
  • Completed my 4 months of physical therapy for IT Band Syndrome due to knee arthritis (what a pain!!)
  • Vacationed in Montana for a week with my sisters from Colorado, and their families, and visited my 97-year-old Dad in his senior home in Colorado, and shared pie with my brother and his family there.
  • Completed a commissioned painting for a patron.
  • Exhibited in two special exhibits at the Foster Gallery – showing two plein air paintings in Outdoor Magic 2017, and a figurative piece in Faces & Figures.
  • Studied DVD’s by plein air painters Laurel Daniel and Joseph McGurl.

Below are studies and works done over the past couple of months.

Oil painting of the "umbrella trees" at Western Lake in Grayton Beach, FL, at dawn, a commissioned work 8"x48"

See full-size at Umbrella Trees at Dawn. This painting was commissioned by local friends who had a very specific space where they wanted to hang it in their house, a space roughly 9″ x 60″. The painting is 8″ x 48″. They gave me the subject, an iconic local treeline that we know as the “umbrella trees”, at Western Lake near Grayton Beach, Florida. They wanted to see it every morning and smile. So I chose dawn.

 

Oil painting of the first light of dawn coming over the mountain to kiss the grassy hill at Green Bear Ranch, Eureka, MT

The first light of dawn coming over the mountain to kiss the grassy hill at Green Bear Ranch, Eureka, MT, painted en plein air while on vacation with family two weeks ago. (click photo for larger image)

Oil painting of the road cut across Dickey Lake, MT, on a day hazy from the smoke of forest fires in BC, Canada.

Plein air painting of the road cut across Dickey Lake, Montana, on a day hazy from the smoke of forest fires in BC, Canada. (click photo for larger image)

Oil painting of the grassy rise edging the roadside park between Basin Bayou and Villa Tasso on the Choctawhatchee Bay in Florida

A roadside park in Choctaw Beach, on the Choctawhatchee Bay in NW Florida, painted en plein air. (click photo for larger image)

Oil painting of the lake at Lincoln Park in Niceville, FL, with the muted colors of a cloudy day

View from Lincoln Park, Niceville, FL, on a cloudy day, painted en plein air. (click photo for larger image)

Oil painting of a V-bottomed boat at Nick's Restaurant on the Choctawhatchee Bay at Basin Bayou near Freeport, FL

V-bottomed boat at Nick’s Restaurant on the Choctawhatchee Bay at Basin Bayou near Freeport, FL, painted en plein air. (click photo for larger image)

Oil studies of the light on the water at Thomas Pilcher Park in Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Plein air studies of the light on the water at Thomas Pilcher Park in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. (click photo for larger image)

Oil painting of a bend in the creek, showing the transparent tannin-stained water over the sand bar, at Turkey Creek in Niceville, FL

Plein air painting of the a bend in the creek, showing the transparent tannin-stained water over the sand bar, at Turkey Creek in Niceville, FL. (click photo for larger image)

I drew Katie and Marley for a special exhibit by my local arts alliance called “Faces & Figures” at The Foster Gallery. Katie is a neighbor in my community who walks her dog in Eden Gardens State Park. On this day, she was sitting on the bench up by the bayou. The paper actually is a very light blue — the camera incorrectly corrected for color-cast. (click photo for larger image)

As always, contact me if interested in available art or a commission.

 

Joan Vienot, Live Event Painter

June 13, 2017 in Landscape, Other Art, Plein Air

Several years ago I was asked to paint the bride and groom’s First Dance at their wedding reception. That first request blossomed into more as word got out. I have dedicated a page on my website to Weddings, Etc.

Last fall I painted at a beautiful wedding which was held outdoors in front of a magnificent private mansion. The weather was gorgeous, the light exactly mirroring the day before when I had visited the site to work out the details with the wedding planner. I arrived about an hour early, so my painting was well underway by the time the first guests arrived. A trio played classical music behind me, to the accompaniment of the splashing sound of the beautiful marble fountain beside me, and pre-wedding cocktails encouraged the convivial atmosphere. Guests looked over my shoulder as I continued to structure the mansion, cheating the color towards the warm glow I knew would be present at the moment I was asked to capture, which would be the bride’s father escorting the bride to her wedding. (I had taken a few reference photos of the wedding planner standing approximately where I thought the bride and her father would be walking, so that I had an idea of scale when I started the painting.)

I was amused that a few of the guests wanted to have their photo taken with me painting — apparently my activity was something essential to their anticipated memories of the occasion. But I was wholly unprepared for the revelation that my work would be so significant to the bride, surprised and pleased that she had my painting printed on her Thank You cards!

And then gratitude upon gratitude, when she included a photo of me painting, in the feature article on her wedding in The Knot, the premier magazine for “all things wedding”! The issue will hit the newsstands on June 26, 2017. Below are small photos of the 3-page article, and the fourth one is a composite of the photo of me working and the list of vendors. Click each image for enlargeable view.

Click image for enlargeable view.

Click image for enlargeable view.

Click image for enlargeable view.

Click image for enlargeable view.

 

Faded Glory

June 11, 2017 in Other Art

Oil painting of faded American flag and rusty flagpoleSome paintings beg for no words. I painted this painting on the sad day the American president withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord.

Went to a Garden Party, en Plein Air

June 4, 2017 in Landscape, Plein Air

Sometimes our local group of plein air painters receives an invitation to paint at an event. When that happens, usually 4 or 5 of us will show up, and it is always fun. The garden party today, at Clay30A, was no exception. It was the 5th anniversary for the Seagrove Beach, FL, nursery and gift shop. I meant to arrive an hour early, because the party was only scheduled for 2 hours in the afternoon, and I wanted a head start. Alas, somewhere I lost an hour, so I arrived right after the party started. Several fellow painters were already hard at it. The business is a cornucopia for plein air painting – brilliant light and color and contrasting dark shadows galore. I often bite off more than I can chew when we (the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters) paint here, so today I purposefully chose a simple subject, pots of flowers hanging from a tree. I correctly guessed that the sun would be starting to hit the flowers by the end of the party at 5:00, which was when I would be ready to paint the light. From when I started at 3:00 until then, I was busy with simple shape making and background colors. At the end, I was pleased with my result, so I gave it to the owner to thank her for inviting our group. To our surprise, she gave each of us a sweet card and gift. I am so grateful to live in such a classy place! Below is my painting. There was one change I made after shooting this photo — I removed the pot hanger I had started to paint in below the lowest hanging pot on the right. I decided that it would be difficult to identify, and that visually it would be less confusing to have the pots just hanging from the tree.

Oil painting of hanging impatiens at Clay30A nursery and gift shop, Seagrove Beach, FL

Trying Something Different, en Plein Air

June 4, 2017 in Landscape, Plein Air

I grow faster as an artist if I occasionally try something new, with a technique, a medium, or a subject I don’t normally use. Last week I posted a work in soft pastels. I’ve painted a couple more since then, for more exposure to the medium. Pastels are an excitingly different medium than the oil paints I normally use.

A month ago, I enjoyed oil painting using only black, white, and gray, to meet the requirements of a call for art by my local arts alliance. I painted en plein air, on a 12″ x 36″ stretched canvas, at Salinas Park near Port St. Joe, Florida, on the road to Cape San Blas. The marsh there is one of my favorite scenes. When I was a mentor for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air in 2016, as a Florida’s Finest Ambassador, I taught 3 sessions at Salinas Park, but there is a difference between painting as a demonstration, and painting for the sheer pleasure of it. I loved doing this painting using only black, white, and gray. The only times I have painted with this palette of neutrals is in classes, either as a teacher or as a student. I really ought to do it more often, making a completed painting out of a value study, such a beneficial exercise! Unfortunately, the painting was not accepted into my local arts alliance’s exhibit — so I can’t wait to see the art that was accepted! To see a larger view of this painting, CLICK HERE.

Oil painting of the marsh at Salinas Park, Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL, painted en plein air in black, white, and gray

The pastel works I completed last week are below. I specifically worked on creating the illusion of distance in all of these paintings, by softening distant edges, reducing detail,and reducing distant intensity and heightening the values. Pastels are pure pigment, and it is a challenge to reduce the intensity when you only have a couple hundred colors. Painters who work regularly in pastels have probably a hundred shades and tints of each color, perhaps a thousand colors in their box. As an oil painter, I am accustomed to mixing my colors. So it was a lot of fun allowing the brilliance of the pure pigment to show.

As always, message me if you are interested in owning any of my artworks.

Soft pastel study of a the afternoon light on the marsh at Bayou Texar, Pensacola, FL   Soft pastels painting of the marsh and bridge on Bayou Texar, Pensacola, FL

The Need to Paint

May 21, 2017 in Landscape, Plein Air

Soft pastels painting of an old leafy treeI have been in Apalachicola, Florida, for two weeks, immersed in plein air painting.The first 10 days were the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, where some 25+ artists are invited to paint, demonstrate, and share their talents and stories, with hopes of generating sales of works produced throughout the event. The second 4 days were a convention of sorts called Plein Air South, with demo’s by multiple artists painting in the same general location at the same time, panel discussions, lunch-and-learn sessions, lectures, and paint-along sessions, from early morning to late evening, a marathon of learning, painting, and networking, generally refilling the well, creatively-speaking. One of the demonstrations I attended was given by Marsha Savage, who painted with soft pastels en plein air. Oil paint is my usual medium, but I like to explore other media for a change of pace. A month prior I had signed up for a local plein air pastels workshop which was scheduled two days after my return from Plein Air South, and although I was exhausted, I happily attended, freshly inspired in particular by the freshness of Marsha Savage’s pastel painting. The instructor of the local workshop was Fred Myers, who used to teach art at the University of Northern Colorado, where I received my art degree in the late 70’s. Fred was my favorite art professor, teaching figure drawing and painting. After his demonstration at this workshop, I made several thumbnail sketches of scenes, to study and figure out the darks and the lights, and I found my mind also wandering back to Marsha’s demo as I sketched. Then I tackled my subject, a gnarly, aged magnolia tree, covered with the buds of the blossoms that would surely be decorating it in the coming weeks. While the painting I produced is probably typical of the paintings I do, no doubt my work was influenced by having watched both Fred and Marsha work.

I think that every exposure to plein air painters and plein air painting brings me closer to the level of awareness that I strive for personally and in my paintings, which in this case was the mood of the tree scene. I had the overwhelming feeling that it was a good tree to sit underneath to think, perhaps even sharing its wisdom as well as its shade. It satisfied my compulsion, my need to paint, at least for that day.

Keeping up With Inventory: Sales, Week of April 13, 2017

April 16, 2017 in Landscape, Other Art, Plein Air

LABEL BY ARTWORKARCHIVE.COM

Inventory record keeping can be a chore. I have many paintings. Some are on my studio walls, some are in storage, some are entered in shows, some are entered in competitions, some are in galleries, and some are out on loan. I used to simply upload my works to my website. But I might want a list of the paintings in a collection at a particular gallery, and my website cannot make reports. For that I rely on an online inventory system called Artwork Archive. This site allows me to assign my artwork to various collections (galleries, competitions, locations, etc.). It generates nice reports, and it can create gallery labels with as much or as little information on them as I want. For example, for a recent show at St. George Plantation on St. George Island, FL, I opted to include the one-paragraph “description” on each 4 x 6 label, because each of the paintings had a story, my experience and observations while I was painting it there on location, with which I knew the viewers would identify.

Artwork Archive also allows me to immediately mark a piece sold, and to record where it was sold and by which gallery or exhibit. It was a valuable tool this week, when a number of sales happened through various avenues. I sold a plein air painting off the easel on Wednesday, to the owner of the house in my painting. I also sold 3 paintings this weekend at the the St. George Plantation show. One of the galleries showing a number of my paintings called to say they had sold one painting, and also a small figure drawing, and the interior design shop representing me sent me a check for the proceeds from 3 paintings sold. Plus I received an order for a commissioned painting. It was a good week! Artwork Archive made simple the record keeping for these sales.

It also can make a beautiful report on any single painting, complete with image.

Before I started using Artwork Archive, I used to try to keep a spreadsheet of sorts, but it was cumbersome, to say the least. I still keep a spreadsheet of due dates and delivery dates for competitions and exhibits, but the bulk of my record keeping is on Artwork Archive.

Below are my sales for the week, a sample of the necessary record keeping. The first five are recent paintings.

Oil painting of General Miller's relocated house, in Point Washington, FL

Oil painting of two immature barn owls recently flown from the nest, St. George Plantation, St. George Island, FL

Oil painting the marsh view at Nick's Hole , Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve

Oil painting o the Egrets' Pond on Leisure Lane, St. George Plantation, St. George Island, FL

 

The following paintings also sold this week.

Oil painting of the bright light on the water of the Gulf of Mexico at Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida

Oil painting of misty palms in Marler's Park, painted en plein air

Oil painting of the beach foliage and beach umbrellas along the gulf-front at Seaside, FL, painted en plein air

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

All of the above paintings have sold. If you have a scene that you would like memorialized in a painting, contact me on this website’s “Contact Form”. I am happy to do commissioned work.

 

The Practice of Plein Air Painting

February 12, 2017 in Landscape, Plein Air

We “practice” yoga, we “practice” meditation. Plein air painting is “practiced”. Like yoga, and like meditation, plein air painting is performed, hopefully, with increasing awareness and perhaps with increasing skill, but I don’t know of any painter who thinks their practice is “perfected”. Even though a plein air painter might occasionally paint the best painting of her or his life, the next painting still begins with the proverbial blank canvas. I paint weekly with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters. Actually, I coordinate the weekly sessions, sending out the location to the email list of 240 people, and meeting the group of 2 to 15 painters who might show up. We paint for 3 hours, and then have a soft critique, followed by lunch at a local restaurant. The social aspect of the weekly get-togethers reinforces my practice.

In January, it was foggy for one of our sessions, at Turkey Creek in Niceville, FL. By the time we finished, the fog had lifted and colors had appeared, but initially my scene appeared to be monochromatic. I used a different approach for this foggy scene. Normally when painting en plein air, the darks are laid in first. But to create the atmosphere of light through the fog in this painting, I painted the light brownish-gray sky and water and the very light value background shapes, layering the darker, closer shapes on top.

Oil painting of the dunes at Henderson Beach State Park

The last week of January we painted at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, Florida. The Florida Panhandle coast from Panama City to Pensacola is covered with sugar-white, fine quartz sand from thousands of years of erosion carried down to the Gulf of Mexico by the Apalachicola River. The white sand picks up reflected color from everything around it, and sometimes the compliments of those colors are sensed by the viewer. The sand might appear pink next to the green foliage topping a dune, or warmer and yellower near cool shadows.

The next week we painted at Camp Helen State Park, which is on the Walton County / Bay County border. The park contains hardwood live oak and pine hammocks, marsh ecosystems, and sandy beach. I hiked out to a view of the dunes, where I could just make out the skeleton of the old pier. I was challenged by the puffy little clouds covering most of the sky, with a little blue peaking out just here and there.

The first weekend of February, I drove two hours east to the village of Apalachicola to meet up with my friend Lynn Wilson, owner of On the Waterfront Gallery and President of the Artists of Apalachicola Area. Lyn is sponsoring monthly Weekend Warrior painting workshops, and this weekend was the first, taught by Atlanta artist Debra Nadelhoffer. I took the workshop both to learn and also to observe the logistics, since Lynn has invited me to teach the workshop in May. Debra likes to paint the sky with different colors of the same value in order to impart the shimmer or movement of the air that she sees. I painted the above painting, and later was painting on a new canvas, trying to learn how to paint the blinding glimmer of sunlight on water, when passers-by stopped and asked to purchase the above painting. The following paintings were also painted in the Nadelhoffer workshop, as I tried new color combinations, and exaggerations of color.

After returning home, I painted with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, and found myself experimenting with color temperatures in order to enhance the feeling of space and mood. I did not finish the painting (below) and did not keep it, satisfied with what I learned in the process.

All of these paintings are available for purchase. Contact me for information, using the form that comes up when you click on the painting.

 

Attention Subscribers!

December 9, 2016 in Landscape, Plein Air

If you signed up to receive email notifications of new entries on my website, joanvienot.com, please sign up again, so that you will continue to receive notifications. The system I was using from 2010 until now, the end of 2016, is no longer supported, so we had to change. The subscription field is located top right on this screen above if you are on your computer. If you are on your phone, please scroll down to the bottom. Thank you for your interest!

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Here’s a plein air painting I completed recently, from LuLu’s Restaurant in Destin, FL. It was a breezy, sunshiny day, and the bright colors of the chairs immediately caught my eye. The scene was so busy that I felt like a kid, playing with the shapes and using colors I seldom use, very different from the tones of natural landscapes.

Oil painting of Lulu's Restaurant bayside, in Destin, FL, painted en plein air