Location: ArtWaves, 1345-A State Highway 102, Village of Town Hill, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
Drawing is fundamental to art-making, whether a preliminary sketch for another artwork or a finished piece in its own right. This course will present basic skills to the beginner and a good solid review for the advanced artist, in six 2-hour classes over 6 weeks. All skill levels are welcome.
Each class will consist of small segments of instruction, with mentored practice between each segment. We will talk about line and line quality, effective shape-making, creating the illusion of space, light and shadow, experimental mark-making, and elements of composition, all while practicing drawing technique and media exploration. Subjects will include both the traditional and the unconventional.
The fee is for all or part of the course. Class size will be a maximum 10 students, or a minimum of 6, and will be presented in the Fine Art Studio at ArtWaves, 1345-A State Highway 102, Village of Town Hill, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609. The studio is equipped with flat work tables for our practice. If you prefer working with a table-top easel or a free-standing easel, feel free to bring your own with a drawing board.
Supplies will be provided, but if you have your own favorite drawing supplies, you are welcome to bring them. Don’t buy anything special. We plan to use supplies similar to the following:
Ordinary #2 pencil
Ebony pencil – jet-black extra-smooth 6B or 8B soft graphite
Water soluble pencil, i.e., a Derwent Sketching pencil, dark wash, 8B, or a Derwent Graphitint pencil, any dark color
Charcoal pencil, paper-wrapped, extra soft
Nupastel stick or soft pastel, white
Water soluble pen, dark color with medium or fine point (Vis-à-vis or Flair)
White eraser, i.e., White Pearl
Watercolor brushes: a well-shaped rigger or #0 round; #6 round; and a wider brush
Soft thin cotton rag, small, for smudging dry media
Old sketchbook for note-sketches and for practicing at home. (Yes, homework!)
Good quality white paper, 18 x 24 and 12×18.
Optional: fixative to preserve your masterpiece. NOTE: aerosols may only be used outside the building. Blick Matte Fixative is inexpensive and re-workable.
We will work on the flat tables in the studio. If you are more comfortable with an easel, you may bring your own table-top easel or free-standing easel and drawing board.
Before making a firm decision to move to the Northeast to learn to paint the rocky shoreline, I decided to test my tolerance for the winter weather by living there for a couple of months. So I found a rental in South Portland, Maine, and on this past New Years Eve I started my drive north with my cat and some art supplies. For the most part my winter gear was perfect for my sightseeing and adventuring, thanks to new insulation technology. I think my coldest venturing was around 0°F, with a wind chill of 15 below. I did need to buy some different hiking shoes – “Arctic Grip” soles are a prerequisite for safely traversing trails any amount of snow or minimal ice. My “Yak-Trax” worked well for more seriously icy walks. But my fingers nearly froze during the three seconds I would unglove in order to shoot a photo with my iPhone. Chemical hand warmers inside my mittens just couldn’t re-warm my fingers fast enough. So I broke down and bought some rechargeable electric gloves — Best. Invention. Ever. for cold-weather photography. My raingear and snow pants did well to block the wind, which was fairly constant at the shore. There were some days that it might have been warm enough to paint outdoors, but hauling my gear up and down 2 flights of stairs wasn’t something I relished, so I painted from memory and from reference photos when I got back indoors.
My experience was fairly tame, since it was a mild winter in a very civilized city. There was only one true Nor’easter and just a few storms with freezing rain. I would guess around two feet of snow fell over the two months I was there but my host did all the shoveling and snow-blowing, and the city was immediate in plowing and salting the roads.
My exploring took me as far northeast as Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, and south to Cape Ann and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
The area around Acadia National Park has every kind and color of rock and all of the ocean drama that I want to learn to paint. Most certainly cities have more cultural opportunities and events, but for my goal of learning to paint the rocky shoreline, it is better to be closer to my subject. I can always make day trips to the art museums in Rockland, Portland, and Boston. I anticipate that I will be more inconvenienced by the winter weather than I was in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, but I don’t think it will be unmanageable. To be frank, the tourist season may be more of an aggravation to me than the weather. A friend of mine says our lives are ruled by the availability of parking!
And now I am back in Florida, waiting for a callback from the apartment complex where I will be renting when I move to Maine. I expect to be making the move sometime around mid-summer. I will be taking my paddle board and my canoe, but I am starting to pare down my other belongings, including my piles of paintings and drawings. Stay tuned, if you are following my Facebook page — I may be posting some amazing bargains and some freebies!
If you’re receiving 2 emails each time I publish a new blog, it means you are subscribed to both my old website RSS feed and my new email newsletter. Thank you for joining my new newsletter, and for your long-time support of this blog!
Because of the way RSS feeds work, I can’t remove you from the old list myself – but it is easy for you to remove yourself from that RSS feed if you prefer just one notification for new posts.
First, identify which email you received from the old RSS feed. These emails send from “email@example.com” and look something like the screenshot below.
Scroll to the very bottom of the email from firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll see the following text. Click the “unsubscribe now” link.
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When you sign up, you receive a free download of my work “Grayton Fog.” This is a high-resolution image suitable for printing. I recommend ordering a print at your local print shop that you can display in your home or rental property. You can also use it as a digital wallpaper on your computer or phone. In the newsletter, I’ll keep you up to date on my new posts, art shows, and new works for sale.
Welcome to all new subscribers, and thank you to my long-time readers for continuing to follow my journey.
My life began taking a radical turn in a new direction a year ago while I was taking a course mentored by Dr. Michelle Gordon. The misfortune of having my official “launch” as a serious artist foiled by the pandemic in 2020 had stalled me, and Dr. Gordon’s program proved to be a good reset. The segment on healthy thinking included a fun exercise, visualizing my ideal day. I knew where this was going to go — if I could picture my ideal day, then I could start living it now, at least the parts that could immediately be put into action!
I pictured living in a grand house on a grassy cliff with giant windows looking out to sea. The view from the side windows would be the rocky cliffs receding into the distance. There would be a path down to the beach so I could easily transport my plein air painting supplies on my electric cart. The gorgeous scenery would provide infinite inspiration. Art exhibits, live theater and the symphony would be in town a mere 10 or 20 minutes away, and my daily routine would include a walk on a trail near the road. Evenings would be filled with laughter and camaraderie of small gatherings of fellow creatives sharing dinner with me, the meal prepared by my award-winning chef of course. To cement the visualization, I got out a slatted, cradled wood panel that I had picked up on a whim, and I painted the imaginary view from my house looking out to sea, and a few weeks later I painted the view I was visualizing through the side window, the receding line of cliffs. Without my knowing it, the mysterious wheels of change were already starting to turn, as I was being pulled towards my visualization. On one of my walks near my home in Northwest Florida I even caught myself experiencing the happiness of being in that ideal place — one part of my road actually was lined with the same type of grasses I imagined would be on the path through the grassy cliff!
I had no idea where this coastal cliff might be, but that detail did not matter. What would be fulfilling to me was to be in an area of exciting, endless inspiration to paint. After living for 40 years on the beautiful but flat Emerald Coast, I hungered for more dramatic landscape, scenes with a lot of angles and contrast; water crashing on sharp rocks would fit the bill. I spent a lot of time looking at the US coastline on Google Maps, looking for rocky shores with easy access, and then image-searching those areas. Northern California is supremely beautiful, as is the Pacific Northwest. But then I looked at other factors, like climate, wildfire and wind. I have vacationed on the jaw-droppingly beautiful coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia, so I started thinking more and more about New England, even though the winter might be unappealing.
Meanwhile, back to reality… A dearly departed friend used to say, “When uncertain, chop wood and carry water.” In other words, maintain routine, do your chores. For me, the chores that needed doing were necessary repairs on my house, postponed until I retired from my non-art career, and now it was time to take care of them. So, with the experienced guidance and support of my real estate friends Kim and Keen, I repaired and renovated my house and my studio and had the slightly wild-looking yard cleaned up. My contractors re-shaped the trees, graveled the driveway and carport, installed a water feature for my geothermal heat-pump, and replaced a few aging appliances. Kim and Keen then sold my house for me and my dream became a possibility.
That dream has evolved — I would like to spend the next productive part of my life learning to paint gorgeous scenery in different parts of the country — first maybe two years on the rocky coastline in New England, and then maybe a couple of years painting the spires and arches around Moab, and then possibly northern California or the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps down around Sedona or north to Glacier National Park, just letting my heart call me to the next beautiful place to paint. Or I could fall in love with the first area I go and decide to put down roots, who knows! Colorado will always be home because my family lives there, and I grew up there.
And now, just one year after visualizing my ideal life, here I am, in Maine. Actually I am here for only two months, January and February, to test my tolerance for the worst of the winter weather before I commit to moving here, and to do recon on longterm rentals. I’ve been staying in South Portland, Maine, for the month of January, exploring the scenic coast here and enjoying a little of what this sweet area has to offer. If you follow me on my personal Facebook Page, you know that I have not found winter to be a deal-breaker. February will include a widening of my circles as I look for longterm rental options. Next week I will drive up to Acadia National Park. At the end of February, I will return to my apartment in Florida to gather up my life. On the way home I will look at the coast of New Hampshire and then Cape Ann in Massachusetts.
Stay tuned to follow my adventures in this giant, intentional upheaval of my life.
And, if you have a home on a grassy cliff overlooking the sea somewhere, I would be happy to discuss house-sitting for you, if my cat Rafiki approves!
I am exhibiting 5 selected works from my Sea & Sky Collection at J. Leon Gallery in Miramar Beach, Florida, from October through December, 2020. Below is the press release for the First Friday Sip’N’Stroll on October 2, 2020.
J.Leon Gallery + Studio Debuts Four New Artists at Sip N’ Stroll Event
“J. Leon Gallery + Studio Sip N’ Stroll event showcases four new artists, a live artist painting, and champagne for guests to enjoy”
Destin, FL – (October 2020)… On Friday, October 2, 2020, J.Leon Gallery + Studio, the area’s newest fine art gallery, hosted their second Sip N’ Stroll event and debuted four new artists. The gallery welcomes new artists, Estelle Grengs, Joan Vienot, Sereen Gualtieri, and Susan Lucas to their talented lineup of eleven featured artists.
"We are so happy to welcome these new artists. Each artist brings new life to the already vibrant band of artists featured at the gallery. We encourage guests to stop by and take a look at what these new introductions have to offer."
- Jason Lindblad, Owner & Artist, JLeon Gallery + Studio
(Artists From Left to Right – Sereen Gualtieri, Susan Lucas, Kathy Schumacher, Estelle Grengs, Joan Vienot, Jason Lindblad)
Artist, Kathy Schumacher
During the Sip N’ Stroll event guests received a first look at the gallery’s new Fall Art Installations featuring eleven talented artists from the Okaloosa/Walton area. Visitors took a tour of the gallery and the fully functioning ceramics studio while enjoying wine, champagne, and light eats. An evening filled with creativity, guests also experienced a live painting by artist, Kathy Schumacher. Upcoming Sip N’ Stroll Dates: Friday, November 6, 2020 | 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 4, 2020 | 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
With the safety of guests, artists, and staff as our top priority, guests have the freedom to wear a mask and social distance during the event.
J.Leon Gallery + Studio is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For additional information, class and workshop signup, and to view upcoming events visit jleongallery.com and follow the gallery on Facebook and Instagram.
J.Leon Gallery + Studio 13370 US Highway 98, Miramar Beach, Florida 32550 Phone: 850.842.3051
J.Leon Gallery + Studio is the area’s newest, fine art destination. Born with a vision to make high-end art attainable for everyone, J.Leon supports and promotes its artists while presenting guests with unique ways to engage with and uncover their next favorite work of art. More than a gallery, J.Leon is home to a working ceramics studio and offers a robust calendar of events and classes. Art is for everyone! Artists and art appreciators will not want to miss the opportunity to call J. Leon Gallery + Studio their creative home.
…for the prospect of an exhibit at Anne Hunter Galleries in Seaside, Florida in the spring of 2020 gave way to floundering aimlessly for a while. Did you get the COVID-Blues? I sure did!
Initially my world was turned upside-down by the abrupt closure of my just-opened exhibit and the resulting kibosh on my art marketing strategy. And then the nightly news turned ghastly, and I became a victim of what has been called “doom-scrolling” on my phone, hopping from one awful news story to the next, constantly searching for true assessments of how bad it all really was, a sure-fire way to kill your muse. My routines were disrupted completely. In a desperate attempt at regaining control over something, anything, in my life, I started having my morning coffee and doing my morning readings and meditation downstairs in my studio instead of in my quiet room. At least that got me into the studio every day. It was a start!
I have partnered with fellow-artist and friend Cheryl Ploegstra for monthly accountability progress reports on art production and goals. That helps a lot with pandemic survival – it requires a little bit of record-keeping, and record-keeping proves to me that I am not really floundering — I actually am producing a good deal of work. Sales are slow, so I am grateful to have completed a few commissions. I’ll show you a couple, later on in this post.
I’m using my more plentiful free time to to refresh my painting and drawing skills. And I continue to step outside of my comfort zone by learning new media. The illuminated letter “E” at the beginning of this post is one such effort, in which I learned how to apply gold leaf in a workshop taught by fellow local artist Elia Saxer, and I received an introduction to water-miscible oil paints in a workshop taught by Patti Overholt. Below are samples of those media.
Palette-knife painting is a technique of applying paint which I don’t use very often, so I have been practicing on a few pieces. Below are some recent efforts using a palette knife, that I completed at one of my weekly plein air group sessions.
Being grateful helps to ward off what I call the COVID-Blues. One large gratitude I have is for social media — I use it to stay inspired and to share my own work. I find Instant refreshment in the steady stream of awe-inspiring work from the artists I follow on Instagram. My account on Instagram is @JoanVienotArt. It includes my weekly plein air work, other paintings, commissions, demo’s, and workshop efforts. Posts on my Instagram account also post to my Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/JoanVienotArt/. Take a look — I’ve been busy!
Commissions, yes, commissions! I will paint the scene in person at your event. You can find more information about my live event painting on my Weddings page,30AWeddingPainter.com. Two months ago I painted at a garden party / birthday party, pictured below. The optimal lighting happened right after the sun went down, when there was enough contrast for the decoration lights to really begin to glow while the brilliant colors of late daylight still bathed the scene. Because the lighting effect was momentary, I ended up completing some of this painting over the next few weeks in the studio. This one was so much fun. Even the drink glasses had lights in them!
The piece pictured above was commissioned by my friend and retirement manger Shelley Albarado. It was based on a photo of the famous Fearless Girl and Charging Bull sculptures on Wall Street, as photographed by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images. I did not paint an exact copy, but it certainly is obvious as derivative. I felt the people standing behind the bull in the photo did not contribute to the effect I wanted, so I re-composed it without them. I noted in the caption that I had purchased from Getty Images a license to use this image. That’s important to me, to always acknowledge and have the express permission of the photographer if I am using someone else’s image. After all, photographers are artists. I know that it takes a long time for a photographer to get the composition and lighting exactly right, and then to do the post-processing to enhance and improve the image. My preference is to shoot the photo myself if I am going to use reference photos, so that I have made all of the decisions about the composition, and have a memory of the atmosphere of the scene. But that would have entailed a trip into the past, because the Fearless Girl has been moved to another location.
One of the cartoons during this pandemic shows an artist at work, contrasted with an artist at work during a pandemic, and the two cartoon frames are identical. If only that were the case. Personally, I struggle to keep my spirits up. So much sickness and death! In my state alone the total number of deaths is 2½ times the number of people killed in 9/11. My hope is that I never become numb to this tragedy. If I were to become numb, then I would have to hang up my paintbrushes. As an artist, I feel it is imperative that I stay in touch with all of my feelings so that the art I produce does not become superficial. I wish health and safety for everyone reading this, and comfort in our losses.
Sometimes life gives you lemons. Or a pandemic. Such was the case with my Sea & Sky exhibit. On March 16, 2020, just a few days after my opening reception, the commercial district in Seaside, Florida, including Anne Hunter Galleries, began closing to help slow the initial spread of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. My sisters and brothers-in-law had come out from Colorado to have a beach vacation at the same time as my exhibit opening, and their being here during this confusion gave me some sense of continuity and stability. But within a few days, like so many of you, I felt like my world was tipped upside-down. All of my marketing plans for the last year and for the next couple of years were tied to this, my first exhibit of larger works. I had scheduled six Monday demos for the public and seven Thursday night Meet-the-Artist receptions to which I had intended to invite real estate agents, designers, realtors, and architects from my fast-growing community.
My talented niece, Briar Rose Consulting, my website and marketing consultant, quickly created a Virtual Exhibit on my website and I promoted it through social media and by resending cards and postcards to everyone I had initially sent announcements to. In May I moved the entire collection to Krista Vind’s Artists Warehouse on Hwy 393 in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, where it can be seen by appointment — call me at (850)259-8394 to view it; or use my contact form. Visit my Sea & Sky Virtual Exhibit page for a preview. That page also contains “Room Views” to help you visualize each piece in a home or business setting, and each piece has a purchase link. Below are a few images from the exhibit page, https://joanvienot.com/sea-and-sky-virtual-gallery-exhibit.
It’s about time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions again. I prefer to think of it as setting goals to pursue, or objectives I would like to attain, or even challenges I am setting up for myself. Somehow I feel less threatened by those words than by “resolutions”, which seem to me to be things that I resolve NOT to do, like eating a carton of ice cream in one day, versus goals, objectives, and challenges which are things I plan to work towards. Here are some of mine:
Paint every day either plein air or in the studio, for 30 or 60 days, maybe longer. To do this, I plan to have a palette and brushes ready all the time, in my studio, as well as in my plein air backpack. I have ordered a whole bunch of 6×6 panels for this effort. I can use larger canvases, which I keep on hand all the time, but for this goal to be achievable, I want to be able to finish my daily painting in just 30 minutes, so it makes more sense to use small canvases.
Learn to paint shapes common to our local landscape. Or to paint them better. Shapes such as, palmettos, palm trees, blue herons and other shorebirds, tugboats and fishing boats and pleasure boats, paddlers, waves and choppy water, clouds, live oaks and scrub oaks, sand dunes, twisted dune pines, etc. If I spend a week on each of those subjects, that covers at least 2 months, without even considering that nothing is carved in stone, fortunately for this easily distractible artist, where every shiny spot of light cries out to be captured, now!
Learn to simplify, simplify, simplify!
Figure out what appeals to me about paintings I admire, and then practice that — compositional design, color combinations, contrast, development of focal area, etc.
Practice putting people in some of my paintings. Participate in the upcoming figure painting sessions to be held every Friday at the Cultural Arts Alliance’s Foster Gallery on Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach, Florida. Learn how to use the “Zorn Palette” to create skin tones (cadmium red light, yellow ochre, titanium white, and ivory black).
This fall I am investing my time in cultivating my community’s appreciation for plein air painting, as well as promoting my own work. Many people in my community have never heard of plein air painting, so that is taking extra effort. My local arts association, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, is very supportive. The CAA will be adding a plein air paint-out to our existing Flutterby Festival at Watersound Origins here in Santa Rosa beach, FL, in November. I will be teaching a one-day workshop the day before the festival, the lesson being effective shape-making to start a plein air painting in a way that will offer a high likelihood of success.
Art marketers say that 20% of your time as an artist should be spent on marketing. I am spending more than 20% of my art energy right now, but I expect it to level off. I actually had intended for last year, my third year of plein air painting, to be my marketing year. The transition and adjustment after selling my pool service business took more time than I had anticipated.
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, http://www.moma.org/collection/works/79802.]
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.
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.