at a wedding, oils on stretched canvas, 24×20, finishing the details in the studio. The plein air painting captured the basics, but I needed to tie the composition together better in the studio, which made it quite a bit more formal, and I corrected the proportions of the figures. I scumbled the chandelier, which I had greatly exaggerated on purpose because it set the tone for the scene, and I softened the white curtain behind the couple to create a glow around them, with the foliage creating a heart-shape over their heads.
I enjoy painting at weddings. It is a command performance, so I have butterflies when I first start, but they disappear soon after I start painting. Typically I have contact with the bride’s mother or the bride or couple as much as a year ahead of time, which gives me plenty of time to find out their relative heights, the location of the venue, their colors and styles of clothing, their flower colors, etc. I have a page on my website dedicated to event painting called Weddings, Etc.
The Plein Air Magazine Publisher’s Trip to New Zealand, February 22 to March 5, 2017, was everything I expected and beyond. A combination of sightseeing, gourmet dining, and painting opportunities, it was first class from beginning to end, 10 days of delight! I confess that the travel was grueling, about 18 hours in the air over several flights each way, plus layovers, check-ins, and security. We also had a good bit of travel while in New Zealand, most of it by bus, but fortunately most of that time was compensated by beautiful scenery en route.
Angela Morgan, our tour coordinator from Parnell Partners Group, was simply outstanding. If you can imagine 35 excited and easily distracted adult artists, accompanied by another 15 spouses and partners, many of them excited and easily distracted photographers, you will have an idea of the job Ange and her team had, bringing new illustration to the phrase “herding cats”.
If you count the first couple of days as travel and travel-recovery days, we had 9 days of actual touring and painting opportunities. I had signed up for the trip as a retirement present to myself some 10 months prior, when it was announced at the 2016 Plein Air Convention. Visiting New Zealand had been on my bucket list, but I never thought I would be able to find a travel companion willing to entertain themselves while I sat and painted, and I didn’t want to go so far away alone, so this trip was a godsend. And then my friend Lynn Wilson, owner of On the Waterfront Gallery in Apalachicola, FL, just 100 miles east of Santa Rosa Beach where I live, decided she would come too, and we opted to room together. I found everyone in the group to be very friendly, with instant camaraderie, which came as no surprise, really, since plein air painters seem to attract each other. In fact, I find artists as a whole, and plein air painters in particular, to be especially engaged and engaging.
Our home base was Millbrook Resort near Arrowtown, near Queenstown, on the South Island of New Zealand, where we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast every morning. One night I skipped dinner and painted the scene behind my room, where a tree had fallen and fourteen trees had grown up out of its trunk. The sun went down and I had not yet painted the dark trees, so I merely scraped them out of the background paint, which made for an interesting study.
Painting at Waitiri Creek Winery
Lunch at Gibbston Valley Winery
Painting at Millbrook Resort (or napping to recover from travel fatigue)
Dinner at Jervois Steakhouse
Painting at Glenorchy Wharf
Lunch at Glenorchy Café
Adventure: one of the world’s top 10 scenic drives to a nature walk and jet boating up the Dart River in Mount Aspiring National Park in the Te Wai Pounamu World Heritage area
Dinner at Gantleys Restaurant
TSS Earnslaw steamboat cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm
Lunch at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant
Painting at Walter Peak
Dinner at Botswana Butchery
Painting in Arrowtown or artists choice of location. Lynn and I painted a sheep field at the edge of the resort, backed by a huge mountain. Four sheep on the hill were tended by a single dog, and they gradually made their way out of sight. The pink and yellow colors of the grass on the hill interested me, especially in contrast to the dark mountain behind it.
Dinner at Saffron Restaurant
Scenic drive to Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park for boat ride to the mouth of the fiord and back, seeing the grand vistas of the glacier-carved fiord, with waterfalls of glacier melt streaking down the nearly-sheer cliffs, box lunch provided.
Buffet dinner at Millbrook Resort.
Flight to Wellington on the North Island of New Zealand, for a tour of Weta Workshop where owners Sir Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger and company have created prosthetics, special effects and set design for such movies as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, BFG, Avatar, and many more.
Dinner at Roxy Theatre
Flight to Auckland for ferry ride to Waiheke Island for lunch and painting at Mudbrick Winery
Dinner at Oyster and Chop Restaurant
Tour and painting at Hobbiton, the life-size set and location for The Hobbit trilogy, complete with 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes
Dinner at Euro Reataurant.
Day 9 was a free day, so Lynn and I closed out the trip with a visit to the Auckland Museum where we were treated with a show by Maori singers and dancers, as well as the wonderful history and natural history displays.
We flew out of Auckland for Los Angeles late that night, March 5.
I am at a loss for words to describe the beauty of New Zealand. I so enjoyed the entire experience.
The only mar was a pesky knee disorder diagnosed the week before the trip. I had been annoyed by symptoms for some 3 weeks prior, and when they didn’t go away, I went to the orthopedics institute (Andrews Institute, in Gulf Breeze, FL, the best!) and was diagnosed with a Baker’s cyst caused by knee inflammation (I have thin cartilage.) It turns out I also have a massive case of IT Band syndrome from how I have adapted my bad-knee walk, which I did not know at the time. I was able to walk short flat distances and the inflammation usually did not bother me until the evenings and at night, when it imade sleep difficult. It was so bad one night that I nearly decided to cut the trip short. Some TLC over the next few days, including being pushed in a wheelchair through the domestic airports, reduced the walking enough that I was able to finish the trip. (Post trip comment: the doctor is giving me three weekly injections to reduce knee joint inflammation and he gave me a brace for lengthy standing or walking, and I will start physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the knee and knee mechanics and to treat and prevent IT Band Syndrome.)
Now I need to finish a few paintings to send to Lynn’s “On the Waterfront” Gallery for her showing of paintings from the New Zealand trip, open to all of the participating artists, during the month of May. I had used very lightweight supports in New Zealand, linen covered multimedia boards, and had used a cardboard wet painting carrier for one size of paintings, and my usual RayMar painting carrier for the other size. The RayMar held up well, but the cardboard carrier collapsed and allowed some of the not-quite-dry paintings to fall face to face. So I have some repairs to make.
The paintings I have posted above are the rough work I did en plein air while there. Below are a few studies from photos since my return, working out some distance perspective issues with watercolor. Click image for larger view.
My local arts organization, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, FL, produces an annual exhibit called One Size Fits All. The Call for Art stipulates that art is to be produced on 10×10 cradled wood panels 1.5″ deep. Participants can submit two panels, using either side, creating any kind of art or craft that they want. The panels will be hung at the Foster Gallery at the Market Shops in Sandestin, and will all be offered for sale for the low price of $125. The Gallery will take 40%. The artist may hang another panel in place of the ones that sell. Most of the artists who produce art for this show, put in far more value than $125, just for the fun of coming up with something creative and new. This year I produced two antiqued photo transfers and today I painted a third panel, a beach landscape, en plein air.
I was painting with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at our weekly outing this morning. Our location was Beasley Park, on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, FL. The sky was dark, but the sun was peaking through, highlighting the grasses on the dunes. Three or four old fence posts wandered up the dune, and a mockingbird perched on top of the nearest post. The scene was exquisite. The sun played with the scene off and on all morning, and painting was a delight from the beginning to the end.
Below are my three panels for 2016 One Size Fits All. I will turn in two, and have the other ready when one of the first two sells.
Below are pieces I have done for One Size Fits All in years past.
The clouds were threatening when I arrived at our painting location last week, at Baytowne Marina in Sandestin, Florida. The rain was predicted to come later, but I had driven through a good shower on the way over from my home in Point Washington, and I was pretty sure we were going to get another one. The marina waters were glassy flat, beautifully reflecting the docked boats. It reminded me of my experience the last time the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters painted here, in early September. That day was beautiful. Overwhelmed by the geometry of the boats and the reflections, I painted the subject with only squares, triangles, and lines (at right).
Photos of the marina before the rainstorm
But last week the weather was not so nice. After shooting a few photos of the marina, I took a walk along the shoreline boardwalk only to have the rain start. I returned at a faster pace and found a blue triangular tarp stretched over a kiosk, for shelter. It leaked. The shower only lasted about 15 minutes, and the trees were still dripping when two of the painting group, Ed Nickerson and Celeste Jones, came strolling up warm and dry. Clearly their shelter was superior to mine. Judy Dewar joined us, and we had a wonderful day of painting, critiquing, and lunch afterwards at the Baytowne Marina Cafe, which was the subject of my painting, below.
I enjoy photography, and every once in a while I play with photo app’s on my iPhone. Below is an example I posted on our group Facebook page to promote the location
It’s been a hectic two months. I will summarize with pictures.
In early November, I painted with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at Bruce Cafe. We also had painted there last May, but I didn’t finish that painting. After we went back and painted there in November, I realized I just needed a few more dashes of color to finish capturing the essence on the May painting, so I finished it in the studio. Below are both paintings.
The next week we painted at Alaqua Animal Refuge. I had a lot of help from the young horses there. (Click on images for a larger view.)
Click painting for purchase information.
Early the next morning, very early, at 3 AM, I got up to get ready to help Helen Ballance with a television interview for the 2015 Local Color Plein Air Festival in Lynn Haven, Florida, an hour drive from my home. Paris Janos, WJHG Channel 7, was at Roberts Hall to talk with Helen about the festival, and I was one of two plein air painters providing color by painting during the multiple interview spots. It was dark when I started, so for the first time ever, I started with a black canvas. I struggled — the streetlight was stronger than my palette lamp. Things improved when first light hit the bank. Below is my painting, and my own part in the interview is at http://www.wjhg.com/news/newschannel7today/headlines/Color-Plein-Art-Festival-346679182.html.
The actual paint-out and festival was two days later, at Roberts Hall in Lynn Haven. To my pleasant surprise, I won People’s Choice Best in Show, which included a check for $300 and a solo show at Palms Conference Center in Panama City Beach in late January and February, 2016. Below is a [glare-y] photo of my painting a shot of how I look after an afternoon of competitive plein air painting, ha!
Working on a new map for the hiking trails for Friends of Camp Helen State Park (watercolor and lots of graphics work);
Painting en plein air, completed in studio, at a big wedding reception (can’t post a pic yet, because it’s still drying — the owner gets to see it first);
Starting a little arthritis maintenance which may slow me down a little next year 😥 ;
Agreeing to teach a 2-day Plein Air Painting Workshop at the Florida Chautauqua Assembly January 29 and 30, 2016, with a half-day pre-workshop on Selecting a Plein Air Subject, details at Joan Vienot Plein Air Workshop;
I’m also pleased that my three submissions to the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County’s A+Art “One Size Fits All” have sold. Below are those images — two using photographic transfer onto the 10×10 panels, and the third a plein air painting floated in the 10×10 panel reversed, using it as a frame. The photographic images remain available if you would like a print.
Last year I took my first workshop in plein air painting. I had been painting weekly with the local plein air group for about 14 months when I took that first workshop with Morgan Samuel Price. But I found each day of this year’s workshop even more challenging than last year. According to Morgan, that is the painter’s life. She says that a plein air painter just keeps finding more and more challenges. The more experienced they get, the harder the challenges they find for themselves. Sigh, I thought this was supposed to get easier!
What an amazing group of artists in this year’s workshop! Lynn Wilson, Carol Drost Lopez, Becky Anderson, Charlotte Hope, Nancy Smith Crombie, Patricia Irish Richter, Brenda Anderson, Sherry WetheringtonA, Mary Wain-Ellison, Glenda Coleman, Karen Snider, David M. Jones, and I: thirteen of us. One of the best parts about the workshop was the critique session held each day at the end of the day. We would line up our efforts, even if it was just a few brushstrokes, and Morgan would discuss each and every painting, directing her comments to that artist but for the benefit of us all. This was addition to her amazing morning teaching and demo sessions, and our afternoon practicing painting en plein air, all making for a superb workshop for beginner and advanced painter alike. Blessed with infinite patience and superb focus, Morgan is able to work despite the constant distractions of the excited artists milling and buzzing around her, cameras clicking next to her ear. Below are a few shots of her working. You can click on any of the images to see a larger view.
I had confidence to be away from my pool service business. I had worked long hours the weekend before the workshop, to clear my desk, plus I have a fantastic crew in the field and a wonderful office staff. On Wednesday my staff decided to show me what was happening there in the office, with a series of photos that even Tamra’s store helpers (her two dogs) had a part in. Here’s the worst one, Tamra Thomas, Margaret Bush, and Brenda Osborne. Clearly they do not have enough work to do.
The city and area around Apalachicola is such a scenic place, with the historic buildings, working waterfront with shrimp boats galore, oystermen, grottos and lagoons — it is heaven for painters. The home of Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, you often can find an artist or photographer at work.
Below are some of my works from the workshop with Morgan Samuel Price. Daily critiques were at a set time. Work had to be halted then if we wanted to hear what Morgan had to say about our progress. Click the photo for a larger image.
On the last day I was captivated by a thistle in bloom, so after I finished my landscape, I captured the pink of the flower by using a tint of color I had not ever used before, quinacridone magenta, which turned out to be perfect for painting thistles and I believe also should make painting azaleas easy. I am finding I generally prefer to mix my colors instead of using specialty pre-mixed tubes, but in this case I was very pleased with the chroma.
I shot the photo below using my iPhone.
Contact me if you are interested in purchasing work from this page or any of my online galleries.
See the next post for the weekly paintings done just before and after this workshop.
Today I loaded my painting backpack into my pickup before daylight, had my coffee, checked the news, and then started driving to my intended painting location when raindrops started falling on my windshield. I prefer fair-weather painting, and even better, I much prefer sunny days. So today I changed my plans, and instead, scouted a new location. There used to be a causeway over Oyster Lake, one of the rare coastal dune lakes found here. It regularly used to flood, and it prevented free flow from the marshy headwaters. So the county removed and replaced the causeway with a footbridge, and the view of the shallow marsh from the footbridge is unbeatable. I took a few photos, with plans of returning.
A good plein air painter can find something interesting and beautiful in just about anything he or she looks at, but it’s nice to paint things other people instantly find beautiful too, at least if I want to sell my work. So I always have an eye out for typically beautiful landscape scenery. This location was the mother lode. I took shots from several different viewpoint, a few in black-and-white to make note of the values that the camera “saw”. I make note of that because the camera never sees things the way a person does, but it “takes good notes” when I am in a hurry. I rarely return to the studio to paint, prefer the immediacy of plein air painting.Taking photos merely helps me remember places I want to go back to.
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.
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.
I 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.
We 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.
Many mornings before I go to work, I will see a view that begs to be captured, the image that starts my day. I post these morning photos on Facebook, with perhaps a wistful comment about my day-job cutting short my enjoyment of the scene. This was the image I shot yesterday, the dock at the public boat launch in my village, Point Washington, Florida. The view looks out over Tucker Bayou extending into the eastern Choctawhatchee Bay, in Northwest Florida. It is one of my favorite areas to canoe and stand-up paddle.
Usually when I post to my personal page in Facebook, I set the post-privacy to friends only, but when I uploaded this image yesterday, I accidentally uploaded on the public setting, and it spread like wildfire. Ordinarily I have a few “likes” and maybe one or two instances where people have shared my image onto their own page. This photo had been shared 119 times in one day.
This view is iconic for the area. certainly, but there was a quality to the light, a certain late-summer gold on the grass, that I could see between the trees all the way from my house a good ways up the bayou. The attraction was such that I took only a few seconds to brush my teeth before rushing out the door to capture it, afraid it would change before I could travel the long mile to get there. I took a couple of shots with my good camera, and then I shot this one with my iPhone 4S for immediate upload. Some of my friends on social media have told me they enjoy my morning shots, and it is gratifying to hear their comments. Sharing an experience or a perception through an image makes it more meaningful to me. But the number of “shares” on social media has surprised me, and I am pleased that so many people appreciated this simple scene. Thankfully, I had remembered to watermark it with my website, which if the image is not altered on purpose, allows me to retain a connection as it travels the web.
My website is being updated. When I saw my image starting to go viral, I called my webmaster to ask him to put Facebook “share” buttons on my site so the path would be circular, from the Facebook image on my personal page, to my website, and then back to my Facebook art page. He responded immediately — kudos to Brian at www.andersonsolutions.com
I am starting to see in color. That may sound strange, but the fact is that most of the time in my normal everyday activity, I hardly pay attention to color. When I was focusing on figure drawing, I occasionally used color, but for the most part I was focused on line, shape, and value, usually rendering the whole piece just using a black-white value scale. Now that I am painting again, I am noticing for example, when a white railing is picking up the blue of the sky, or how intense a green becomes when it is contrasted with red. I am finding that much of what I think I am seeing as different tones of a color are actually the same color which looks different depending on what color is next to it. I am particularly challenged by all the greens I see, when landscape painting. If I try to mix an exact shade of green, it often seems muddy compared to what I actually see. Who knew, that Einstein’s theory that everything is relative applies to painting as well as nuclear physics, that the better way to achieve a color is to find the color next to it which gives it the quality I want. Resisting the temptation to launch into that as a metaphor for life, I’ll instead move on to my adventures in plein air painting over the past week. Last week we painted at Nick’s Restaurant, and I bemoaned the fact that I know very little about boats. The next day I decided to take another run at the featured boat, using my photo references, and came up with the piece at top right. It was the little paprika-colored spots of rust washing out from the old nails in the hull, that gave the greens and turquoise the punch I wanted. So I wafted a little of that color into the foreground grasses too.
This week is the largest of the spring-break tourist weeks in the beach resort communities of Panama City Beach, Seagrove Beach, and Destin, FL. So when the announcement came that the plein air painters would be meeting at the docks again in Destin, I knew the drive would take all the fun out of the adventure, so I opted to paint from my dock in my back yard. I had thought I would be painting my view of the creek leading into Tucker Bayou, but when I looked upstream, the color of the bayou grasses intrigued me. My initial 6″ x 6″ study, left, did nothing for me by way of planning my painting, but rather served more like a singer doing la-la-La-LA-La-la-la scales to warm up her voice before performing.
I needed a warm-up! The temperature was less than 40 and the wind was chilly. But it was a clear spring day with bright light. I roughed in the composition and then went to work on the trees at the edge of the Bayou. The spring gold-greens of the new leaves contrasted with the rich, dark pines and the shadows underneath. I resisted the impulse to paint the shadows a colorless dark value, which has the potential to suck the life out of a painting. Instead I darkened my green shadows with a touch of the same deep red I used to tint the pink flowering trees in my distant neighbor’s yard. I stuggled with the grasses, because the shiny highlights were picking up every color of the palette. Uncertain whether I was just making a mudpie, I plowed onward through the painting, until I was satisfied I had achieved an approximate similarity to the colors I was seeing. My two cats initially were scared by my unusual activity on the dock, but they grew braver throughout the 2 hours, wrapping their tails around my legs as I scratched some final textures and highlights into the grasses and the tree trunks. Upon completion, I stood my painting up against a piling and stepped back from it only to have a bitter wind gust blow it onto its face, requiring repair where it had landed on an edge of a dock board. Remembering the worm crawling across my finished painting two weeks ago, I decided that paintings are not really finished until restored from an inevitable mishap at the very end.
The day before yesterday I was excited to find a delivery frames on my package stand as I entered my driveway, so even though it was late, I spent the next couple of hours framing my earlier paintings done in November and December of last year, when I first resumed oil painting after a 30-year hiatus. Looking at them, I realized that I am growing by leaps and bounds. The rate of my improvement surprises me. I thought I would progress more slowly, and even be tempted to give up, because oil painting so intimidated me, no doubt from my tortured efforts during and shortly after college. I find I am enjoying the time limitation of plein air painting, which while still allowing for tortured effort, does not allow it to continue for very long, with only a two hour window before the light changes so much that further attempts at capturing an impression are not worthwhile.
I continue to play with my photography. I am learning about photo-editing, taking a class in Photoshop Elements from Jackie Ward at Northwest Florida State College, South Walton Center. She is teaching us what Photoshop can do. It’s difficult for me to remember. My poor brain may be overloaded, trying to run my business, my day-job, the one that pays the bills, while I try to learn more about photography and painting. I still enjoy the easy editing that can be done with Snapseed App on my iPhone. Yesterday I paddled my canoe on the Bayou with a dear friend, a fellow photographer. You can’t take a bad picture at sunset! Most of my editing of my iPhoneography consists of simply straightening the horizon line and perhaps a little cropping, but I had some fun dramatizing and saturating the photo below.
Most of my images are available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot