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Announcing My New Art Newsletter

Hello to my long-time readers!

This post is for everyone who has subscribed to my blog updates through the WordPress RSS feed over the years. (If you’re subscribed, it means that this blog automatically sends you an email each time I make a new post; it should be coming from “noreply+feedproxy@google.com” and look something like the screenshot below).

Over the last few months, I’ve taken some time to update and expand my website’s newsletter. As a result, I’m changing subscription providers. If you have been receiving email notices of new blog posts from “noreply+feedproxy@google.com” and want to continue to receive updates, you will need to subscribe to my new newsletter using the form below.

New Art Newsletter

I’ll be sending an email every month or so with blog posts from my site and the occasional show or art news update. I’m also offering all of my new subscribers 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.

Sign up to receive a free download of my work “Grayton Fog”

I regret the inconvenience of asking you to sign up a second time; unfortunately there is no way for me to access the database collected by the RSS feed. As a result, you may receive duplicate emails if you were signed up for the RSS feed and now enroll in my new newsletter. I cannot remove you from the RSS feed emails, but you can easily remove yourself. See instructions at the end of this blog post if this applies to you.

Welcome to all new subscribers, and thank you to my long-time readers for continuing to follow my journey.


Receiving duplicate emails? Here’s how to fix that.

If you’re receiving 2 emails each time I publish a new blog, it means you’re on both the new and old newsletter lists. Unfortunately, I can’t remove you from the old list myself – but it is easy for you to remove yourself from that old list. First, identify which email sent from the “old list.” It will be sending from noreply+feedproxy@google.com and look something like the screenshot below.

Scroll to the very bottom of the email. You’ll see the following text:

You are subscribed to email updates from Joan Vienot.
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
Google, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States

Click the “unsubscribe now” link.

You’ll be taken to the following FeedBurner page to confirm your choice. Click “Yes, unsubscribe me now.”

That’s it! Please contact me if you have any questions or issues with the process.

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Artist Retreat – A Recipe for Success

I have just returned from a weeklong artist retreat I shared with three friends at High Ridge Gardens near Charlotte, North Carolina. It was wonderful!

Several years ago I attended a talk by master artist Mary Erickson, and she had mentioned that artists are welcome to stay in the guest house on her large acreage near Charlotte, North Carolina. For a long time I had thought about going by myself for a week, having in the past taken marvelously inspiring and productive solo “art-vacations” in Nova Scotia and in Maine. I ended up inviting three artists to come with me to North Carolina for a week, three women for whom I have great respect as goal-driven emerging artists and as caring, sharing people: Brenda Osborne, Heather Clements, and Brenda Pinnick.

The first day, arrival at our artist retreat: Brenda O., Joan, Heather, and Sally the Goat. Heather’s photo.

Last fall Heather wrote about a solo residency that she gave herself in the mountains of North Georgia. Her personal creativity had dried up when a series of losses occurred in her life, beginning with Hurricane Michael in October, 2018, which devastated her community, damaging every single home, many beyond repair, and mowing down almost all of the mighty oaks in her neighborhood, one crashing into her house. Since the storm and until her trip last fall, Heather had been making a living teaching workshops and classes. Her trip last fall jump-started her personal production of art again. Reading it, I thought about inviting her to come with me on my artist retreat in North Carolina.

I had met Heather Clements many years ago. My fast-growing pool service business had my nose to the grindstone. The recession of 2007 brought that fast growth to a screeching halt, and that gave me time to look up and see what else was going on. I found out that Colleen Duffley was offering weekly Wednesday evening figure drawing sessions at her gallery, Studio B, in Alys Beach, Florida. Colleen invited Heather Clements to instruct the participants. Life drawing was one of my two areas of emphasis for my art degree, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to dust off my pencils, and to be guided by someone with as much command of the figure as Heather has.

I met Brenda Pinnick when I gave myself a trip to New Zealand to celebrate my retirement. Plein Air Magazine offers an annual Publisher’s Invitational trip overseas to tour, paint, and to experience the culture and cuisine, and in 2017 the destination was New Zealand. I think I only talked to Brenda a few times on that trip, but since then I have followed her on Facebook. She is incredibly productive, a wonderful plein air painter, her work easily competitive with some of the better artists I’ve seen. Brenda completed an artist residency for Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Alliance last fall.

Of the three, I probably know Brenda Osborne the best. Brenda served as the chair of our committee that arranged member art exhibitions for the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County where I live, and she also was the office manager for my business. A couple of years ago, shortly after I sold the business, Brenda sold me her car and took off sailing the eastern seaboard with her husband and her art supplies. Plein Air Magazine online wrote a story about her (https://www.outdoorpainter.com/itinerant-painter-on-the-waves/). Over the past year we have been getting together every month or two for progress reports as we work on our art goals.

So these three self-motivated and residency-experienced artists came to mind when I thought about including others on this artist retreat. Being self-motivated and residency-experienced turned out to be the recipe for success for our artist retreat.

I had had a busy year. I was the artist-in-residence for the 2019 Forgotten Coast en Plein Air last spring, one of the highlights of my life so far, combining my love of nature and natural science with my love of painting. I poured a lot of energy into it, so it was an intense endeavor, and highly rewarding. For the rest of the year, I worked on a theme of clouds and waves, my first effort at painting large canvases in studio, in preparation for a solo exhibit of 20 paintings this-coming spring. The trip to North Carolina was to be a concentrated break away from home, my personal intention being to paint en plein air (outdoors, in open air) the whole time I was there. 

When I invited the two Brendas and Heather, the only structure I suggested was for each person to be in charge of a couple of dinners, with breakfast and lunch on our own, and that we would review and critique each other’s work after dinner each night. I left it to everyone to decide how much and what and when and where they wanted to paint or study or just relax. Mary’s sitting room has a whole wall full of art books from floor to ceiling, and the house has numerous paintings of her own and also by other wonderful artists, so there was plenty to study indoors too. Outdoors there were birds everywhere, and Mary has several feeders near the house which bring the birds close. I loved watching the birds, especially the male cardinals with their flashy red feathers contrasted against the golds and tinted grays of winter. A short walk past the pond and up the hill, there were two horses, Cherokee and Angel, and Sally the goat. Inspiration was plentiful. And if that wasn’t enough, the surrounding countryside and town nearby provided scenic charm. Plus Mary opened her studio to us, which allowed for more controlled study and also was a respite from occasional weather challenges. The furthest we ventured was to the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge, about 20 miles from the house.

As it turned out, our artist retreat was more pleasantly social than I had envisioned. We all were early risers so we shared coffee time in the morning, and we bumped into each other throughout the day, sometimes sharing rides on a 4-wheeled cart called a Gator. Great conversations with a whole lot of laughter and an occasional tear, delicious food, and a shared motivation to become better artists, made for a wonderful, largely unstructured week of growth. Leaving the husbands at home probably increased our art production by at least double.

Mary Erickson offers her guesthouse through Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/29588179?s=67&shared_item_type=1&virality_entry_point=1&sharer_id=59163127) for $50 per person per night, plus fees. But for artists she offers it in exchange for donations, and the suggested donation is only $25 per person per night, plus the cleaning fee. To reach her for this donation rate, go to her website (http://www.maryericksonart.com) and go to her “Contact” page. For more information on the property or to make a donation to support her offering the property as an artist retreat and bird sanctuary, go to http://highridgegardens.org.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy these I am posting of the grounds and of each artists study, many of them sketches or incomplete works in progress. Message me if you are interested in owning any of the artists’ paintings shown here.

Heather posted about our adventures and created a video of the grounds with a snippet of her working, as well as writing about the experience, on her Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/posts/33153770?fbclid=IwAR2naGDG8GT9trnuDMO8bOtZSB1PxTBxlsrDEsyIUWH06LYNqUSHT2eyAyc. (I have a cameo appearance in which my scowl makes plein air painting look much less fun than it actually is, ha!)

Below are some photos of us and the farm.


Brenda Osborne worked on a couple of exercises in John Pototschnik’s book on mixing color in oils, as well as painting en plein air. Brenda Osborne’s website is https://brendaosborneart.com.


Brenda Pinnick painted on property and also ventured out into the nearby community. Brenda Pinnick’s website is https://brendapinnick.com. She used oil paint.


Heather practiced drawing and watercolor on this trip. Heather Clements’ website is https://www.heatherclementsart.com


I suffered from over-choice, so many beautiful and interesting scenes on the farm. It was greener than I had expected, and the weather was mostly good, so I never got the snow scene I was hoping for. But we did have some nice, atmospheric, gray days. These are my oil paintings, all but one painted on the property at High Ridge Gardens. This page, of course, is my website, https://joanvienot.com.

As an artist, there is something different about being away from home that makes it worth missing one’s cats, dog, and family. Being away for short periods allows for concentrated focus. At High Ridge Gardens, it helped that the house had no TV. Whether solo or with others, I am convinced that an artist retreat gives me a little catapult forward in my journey as an artist. Many thanks to Mary Erickson for offering her beautiful property for such an affordable suggested donation!

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Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019: Part 6, Following Up

The Breach Channel Has Closed!

Hurricane Michael’s surge breached St. Joseph Peninsula, Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Florida, October 10, 2018, flattening a thousand yards of ancient tall dunes and leaving behind a tidal channel between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay. I studied the breach along with other aspects of “Healing in the Natural Environment” as the Artist-in-Residence for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air this past spring, making 17 paintings to exhibit and giving a presentation on May 7, 2019, at Cal Allen’s Coastal Art Gallery in Carrabelle, Florida. I subtitled the residency “Hope”, because throughout my studies and visits, I found the natural environment healing on its own at a rapid pace, as well as from the boosts it was receiving from mitigation efforts such as the students of Marquette High School in St. Louis giving up their spring break to plant sea oats and build living shorelines here thanks to Franklin’s Promise.

I found the breach to be the most fascinating “healing”. The first time I visited in early March, 2019, the thousand yard breach was a field of flat sand, and I estimated the channel to be maybe 100 yards wide. A dune-covered tree was now fully exposed on the island across the channel, and the relative size of that tree turned out to be my gauge for assessing the closing of the breach. When I returned in mid-March, my photos showed the tree to be relatively larger, due to my being able to stand closer as the sand filled the channel to a 50-yard width. Two weeks later in April the tree appeared even larger, the channel being about 20 yards across. When I returned in May, the tree was gone, the sand eroded out from underneath it, and only the tangle of old roots remained. The channel was about 10 yards across. Surveyors were there, fact-finding for plans to restore access to the island now that the sand was unstable. They told me people had been wading across the week before, although a storm had deepened the channel since then.

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Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019: Part 5

Florida’s Finest Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence

This is the final post of a 5-part blog (scroll down for earlier posts) about my experiences this spring as Artist-in-Residence and as a Florida’s Finest en Plein Air Ambassador for the 2019 Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, the invitational event held annually in the communities of Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, and Alligator Point, in Northwest Florida. These coastline communities together with Panama City and all points northward, encompass most of the area of Florida impacted by Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018.

As Artist-in-Residence, my last tasks were to help hang my work at Cal Allen’s Coastal Art Gallery in Carrabelle, FL, and to give a formal talk about my work at the public reception on Tuesday of event week. I had the day off from my Ambassador duties that Tuesday, which allowed me to visit for the first time, St. Teresa and Alligator Point, at the easternmost edge of the Forgotten Coast. Alligator Point reminded me of the coastal communities of Seagrove Beach and Dune Allen when I first moved here from Colorado in 1980. Many of the roads of St. Teresa and Alligator Point are dirt, and the coastal live oak trees form a thick brush starting low to the ground at the top of the dune, the tops thickly arcing upwards to form a dome over the squatty, single story houses with low roofs, which is smart design for windstorm areas. One street in Alligator Point was closed due to erosion, and I had to detour for a few blocks. I could see more severe erosion near the “neck” of the peninsula, if you want to call it a neck, similar to the erosion at the Stump Hole on Cape San Blas. It is my understanding that barrier islands become islands when the peninsula is eroded through the “neck”.

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Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019: Part 4

Florida’s Finest en Plein Air Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence

The work I produced during the Forgotten Coast artist residency and the month following was hung at Cal Allen’s Coastal Art Gallery in Carrabelle, FL, last week with the help of the Carrabelle Artists Association. I gave my presentation at the event reception on Tuesday. Then the collection was moved to the event wetroom in time for the collector’s dinner last night and for the event gala tonight. The wetroom is at Ft. Coombs Armory at 66 4th Street in Apalachicola, FL. I have one space and all the rest is filled with the most amazing and beautiful works the 20 invited artists who painted this week. What a show!

A huge thank you goes to event chair Cheryl Ploegstra and her team of volunteers and the board of the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition, producers of the event.

Here is a raw, unedited video of my presentation – thank you Karen Weir-Jimerson for sharing it with me! And below the video are the image notes I posted with each piece, in a close approximation of the order in which I talked about them, if you play the 25-minute video as you look at each piece.

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Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019: Part 3

Florida’s Finest Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence

An exhibit of paintings by Joan Vienot, Artist-in-Residence, Forgotten Coast en Plein Air
I have been back and forth all spring between my Santa Rosa Beach, FL, home and Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas, St. George Island, Eastpoint and Carrabelle, as the 2019 Artist-in-Residence for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, and finally the event has arrived. My paintings are hung, and everyone is invited! Many of my paintings are scenes you may recognize. The one in this invitation is from the wildfire area in Eastpoint. I will be posting my residency paintings in Part 4, along with a short description on each, as to why I feel it was on message for my assigned theme, Recovery in the Natural Environment, which I subtitled Hope.
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Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019: Part 2

Florida’s Finest Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” ~John Muir

I was honored to be invited to be the Artist-in-Residence for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air this spring. My artist residency is split into two parts over three weeks. I spent 4 days on the Forgotten Coast of Florida last week and I will spend another 3 days there again next week, continuing to study and to paint the 2019 theme for Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, which is “Recovery in the Natural Environment” relative to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael in October of 2018. My personal approach to this project focuses on Hope.

I am hosted by a sweet couple, George and Maggie Jones on Cape San Blas, just a few miles south of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. They didn’t see much of me while I was there last week because I was out every day, observing, painting, photographing, and absorbing, from first light until sunset.

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Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019: Part 1

Florida’s Finest Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence

Every year the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition hosts a plein air painting event, inviting twenty professional artists to paint the area of Northwest Florida known as the Forgotten Coast. It includes the communities of Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, Apalachicola, Eastpoint, St. George Island, and Carrabelle. On October 10, 2018, the Forgotten Coast was hit hard by Hurricane Michael. The City of Mexico Beach was decimated, and the surrounding communities also were heavily impacted. The theme for this year’s annual Forgotten Coast en Plein Air event will focus on the natural environment as it recovers from the impact of the Hurricane.

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Clouds and Waves, My 2019 Goal

I have set a goal for this year, to paint 30 or 40 larger paintings of clouds and/or waves. Both intrigue me and call to me, two forms of the same matter, constantly in motion, both capable of transporting such massive energy, or such tranquility and peace. I plan to exhibit this body of work early next year. As I work on this project, I will publish progress reports and photos of paintings or parts of paintings, and I might share my thinking, but some of my work I will save for first viewing at the exhibit. In the meantime, I will continue to practice plein air painting and life drawing. Below is a palette knife acrylic painting Foggy Surf, 12″ x 36″, which I painted during my shift at the Foster Gallery in Ruskin Place Artists Colony in Seaside, and an oil painting Storm Tide produced in my studio, 36″ x 24″. Click on images for more information.

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Presenting at the 2019 Florida Chautauqua Assembly

Joan Vienot discusses student work at the end of a plein air painting workshop at the 2016 Florida Chautauqua Assembly.

This week, January 24-27, 2019, the city of DeFuniak Springs in Northwest Florida will again host the Florida Chautauqua Assembly, a 4-day educational program which this year is themed “A Journey Into Main Street America”. Displays and exhibits will surround the the nearly circular spring-fed lake in the center of town, and presentations will be given at local churches and at Northwest Florida State College Chautauqua Center. I am a member of the volunteer faculty, tasked with giving a presentation on the subject of plein air painting.

Titled An Affair with Plein Air – Painting from the Outside In, my session description states “the practice of painting scenes from life, outdoors, is the biggest art movement in history, and it is happening now! Accomplished artists find that painting outdoors, in the changing light and under changing weather conditions, rapidly improves their perception and artistic decision-making, and this carries over to their studio-practice. Beginners and non-artists find increased levels of present-moment-awareness, satisfaction and serenity akin to the benefits of meditation.

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