Why Not Just Take A Picture? Why Bother With Plein Air?

June 17, 2018 in Landscape by joanvienot

By all means, take a picture with your camera!

With today’s technology, we are taking photos every day, and some of them are really good. But why isn’t that enough for the plein air painter? Why not just paint from the photograph? I’ll try to answer that.

First of all, even the best cameras don’t pick up the values and colors exactly right. That’s why every good photographer is an artist, both with their composition of the scene and with their use of photo-editing software afterwards. But certainly we can do many of the things in the studio that we do en plein air, can’t we? Like re-composing, and leaving certain things out, or moving a tree a smidge to the left in order to provide contrast behind the focal area? Well yes, except that we are working with changing light, so we also have to make a lot of decisions on the spot, and try to mix colors right the first time.

But here’s a big difference. Imagine yourself driving down the highway, seeing some pretty scenery, and stopping to take a picture. Years later, or even days later, maybe even hours later, you are looking back at your photos, and you wonder what it was that made you snap that photo, what it was that caught your eye, why it was significant, why it impressed you enough to stop the car.

Now instead imagine yourself somewhere away from home, enjoying the sunset, shooting a photo now and then as the sunset progresses, listening to the soft rush of the waves coming in to the shore, and the call of seagulls and banter of children playing, with the smell of someone’s barbecue wafting over your beach chair, knowing your friends are up in the vacation house having drinks and telling stories. The sand is gritty between your toes, there is a pesky fly that wants to bite you, and the bottoms of your pant legs are sticking to your skin from getting wet because you walked out to return to the sea a flipping baitfish that had stranded itself on the sand. The key element here is the time it takes to absorb all of those sensations, so that depending on your present-moment awareness, a unique memory can be imprinted, so rich that years from now you might recall the scent of barbecue and the feel of the ocean breeze on your skin and the pleasure of rejoining your friends afterwards, when you look at the one or two photos of that sunset that you decided to keep.

In much the same way, a plein air painter experiences their environment for an extended period of time while painting, and that is the reason not to just settle for a photo. The time invested in the experience allows for the absorption of volumes of sensory information, some of which inevitably will make its way into the painting, whether intentionally or not. If you’ve ever marveled at the difference between seeing a good photo of a painting, and seeing the same painting in person, you know exactly what I am talking about. The painting itself contains an energy that came from the experience of the artist. I remember that tears came to my eyes, I was so overwhelmed when I saw “Starry Night” in person, even though I had stared at photos of the painting many times. It’s like the difference between reading Maya Angelou’s poetry, or listening to Maya Angelou herself reading it to you. She lived it.

It’s interesting when someone compliments an artist by saying a painting looks like a photograph. If it is a photograph of the painting, that might be an apt compliment indeed. But if they see the painting in person, hopefully they will feel the solid mass of rock underfoot and hear the call of the loon in the distance, and her mate answering, and they will know that a photograph could never give the same sense that the painting does. Well, except of course when it is a photograph by a really good photographer – I feel the crunch of the glacier moving and I sense a coyote looking at me, when I look at Ansel Adams’ photos.

So last week I painted through a rainstorm. To be honest, when it started to sprinkle and I went to the car to get my big, wide, painting umbrella, the weather App on my phone said the rain was going to diminish after a bit, not get worse, and by the time I finally figured out that the App was wrong, all of my gear was soaked, and I found myself wondering, why don’t I just take a picture? Thankfully, Florida’s summer rains are not too chilly, because the umbrella only shielded me from most of the rain. I posted a video of the misadventure on my personal Facebook page, 6/13/18, gum-chomping and all..

Here’s the end result, “After The Downpour” – sorry you have to view it as a photo. Even so, I will guarantee you that I would not have gotten this effect if I had just shot a photo and then painted it in the studio. Interestingly, even as I am writing this, my friend Janice Frossard just commented on Facebook about the painting that I blogged about yesterday, Devil’s Backbone First Light: “You can almost smell the sage brush and feel the cool morning air.” That’s what I’m talking about!

In this painting, can you smell the rain?

Oil painting of the patio behind the Bay Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, after a torrential downpour

After the Downpour, 11×14 oils on canvas panel, en plein air

 

From Plein Air Studies to Studio Painting

June 16, 2018 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

Last week I completed a painting of the early morning light on part of the hogback [rock formation running along the front range of the Colorado Rockies] at Devil’s Backbone Open Space at Loveland, Colorado, a Larimer County Natural Resources Park. I blogged about painting en plein air there 6 weeks ago, “A Quick Trip to Colorado, Paints in Hand“.

I am a believer in painting only what you experience. There is the occasional commissioned painting of someone’s scene from their own photo, or their dog or child, but I feel more strongly about the scene if I actually was there and I think that I make a better painting when I have a memory or feelings about the scene.

This certainly was true with Devil’s Backbone First Light. I blogged about looking for the part of the hogback formation that I had remembered from my childhood one whole morning, and about going to Loveland to another part of the hogback with my sister and brother-in-law to hike, and then hiking it myself with my paints the next day while the sun was coming up, painting all morning, and then hiking the trails again that afternoon with both sisters and their husbands and a couple of the grandkids. I was filled with powerful memories of the scene, made more significant by spending time with family there, and I had my 3 plein air studies, and my iPhotos. Only my memory held the actual lighting I wanted to portray — the photos were much less colorful than I remembered or than my plein air paintings indicated, but they provided better value comparisons and better perspective. My plein air works provided truer color, and the time spent painting en plein air imprinted certain details on my memory. If I had merely photographed the rocks, and not painted en plein air, I would not have remembered the yellow-green of the lichen and the pinks and lavenders of the sagebrush, and the tufts of grass growing between the rocks on top of the hogback.

I was thrilled to realize just how much the process had helped to make the painting. Below is Devil’s Backbone First Light, followed by the three studies I painted en plein air.

Oil painting of first light on Devil's Backbone, Laramie County, Loveland, Colorado

Devil’s Backbone First Light, 10 x20 oils on stretched canvas (click on image for purchase info)

Oil painting (study) at Devil's Backbone Open Space, Larimer County, Colorado

6×8 study, Devil’s Backbone, Loveland, CO

Oil painting (study) at Devil's Backbone Open Space, Larimer County, Colorado

4×6 study, Devil’s Backbone, Loveland, CO

Oil painting (study) at Devil's Backbone Open Space, Larimer County, Colorado

4×6 study, Devil’s Backbone, Loveland, CO

 

 

Accepted: Estes Valley Plein Air Paint-Out!

June 4, 2018 in Landscape by joanvienot

Posted on Facebook 6/4/18, by the Art Center of Estes Park, Colorado.


The Forgotten Coast en Plein Air and Plein Air South 2018

June 4, 2018 in Figurative, Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

I attended the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air and Plein Air South again this May, taking time out for painting between demo’s and discussions. I practice painting en plein air to study the transient effects of light, to become more adept at composing, to learn more effective technique, and to develop a stronger instinct for decision-making. Many times a plein air painting will be worthy of framing. All are learning experiences. My intention is to study something different every time I paint, even when I paint a scene I have painted before. Every painting is making it easier to paint the next painting, but I challenge myself even more the next time, so I can’t say that painting is easy. I can say that I am seeing better.

Oil painting of the marsh from the deck of Scallop Republic on the way to Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL

Scallop Republic Marsh

I am happy to report that my Quickdraw painting, Scallop Republic Marsh, was selected by Quickdraw judge Lori Putnam to be one of the 40 on display throughout the Forgotten Coast event, and that it was purchased, as was Eastpoint Oyster Shack, one of my paintings in the Florida’s Finest en Plein Air Ambassador exhibit.

The more exciting news happened the week following the Forgotten Coast event, which was Plein Air South, a convention in the same location with back-to-back educational sessions, lectures, and demonstrations. Approximately 160 artists attended. We were invited to display up to 3 plein air paintings, the best to be selected by artists’ vote. I thought they were just going to award a Best in Show, but they also awarded second place, which one of my paintings won, Spring Dune at St. George Island, pictured below! I received $485 of paintbrushes from Rosemary & Co., my favorite brush manufacturer! (Iin addition to the $180 of brushes I had just purchased!) I don’t guess I will run out of brushes for a while!!

Winner, 2nd place, Plein Air South Attendees

Below are the studies I painted over the two weeks, in between listening to the speakers and watching the demo’s. Click any photo to learn purchase information.

Oil painting of the marsh at the kayak and canoe launch on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL

Kayak Launch at Cape San Blas, oils, 6×12

 

Oil painting of the early morning shadow of the primary dune on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL

Cape San Blas Morning Shadows, oils, 11×14

 

Oil painting of the shape of the primary dune on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL, painted with palette knife

Early Summer Dune at Cape San Blas

 

Oil painting of site of oyster shell bagging by the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast, for maintaining and restoring eroding coastline

Project Worksite, Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast, Oyster Shell Bagging, oils, 6×12

 

Oil painting of the light on the creek at George Core Park, Miss Zola Drive, Port St. Joe, FL

Creek at George Core Park, Miss Zola Drive, Port St. Joe, oils, 12×9

 

Oil painting of the early light at the St. Vincent Shuttle stop, off the tip of Indian Pass, Port St. Joe, FL

Warm in the Morning, Indian Pass, oils, 8×10

 

Oil painting of the artist's impression of the colorful sunrise at the tip of Indian Pass, Port St. Joe, FL

Sunrise Impression, oils, 4×6

 

Oil painting of artist's impression and memories of the marsh at the canoe and kayak launch on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, FL

Impression of the Marsh at Cape San Blas Canoe Launch, oils, 11×14

 

Unfinished, Rick on a Break, 14 x 11

 

Unfinished, Cape San Blas Light in Port St. Joe, 16×20

 

Joan Vienot, painting the Cape San Blas Light and lightkeepers’ cottages in Port St. Joe, hurrying to beat the rain!

 

 

 

 

A Quick Trip to Colorado, Paints in Hand

May 26, 2018 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

My dad, Harold Vienot (98 years old!) and Ranger Tom at Barr Lake State Park, Brighton, Colorado

Study of the fountain in the courtyard at Inglenook, Brighton, COI had an unscheduled week between painting in the St. George Island Paint-Out in mid-April and the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air in early May which I attend as a spectator, so it was a perfect time to take a quick trip to Colorado for a family visit. I stayed in the guest room at the retirement home where my 98-year-old Dad has an apartment, and I accompanied him to the on-premises cafeteria for meals in the daytime, but otherwise left him to maintain his routines and nap undisturbed while I entertained myself. One day I took him to the local state park, Barr Lake, where I think he enjoyed reminiscing with the ranger about old buildings that used to be in town as much as he enjoyed the scenic outing. His eyesight is still pretty good – he could see the herd of deer and a circling hawk after I pointed them out to him.

I had packed my small Guerrilla Painter kit, so I broke it out one afternoon to study the fountain in Dad’s courtyard. The light was changing fast, so I just settled for trying to get the shapes right for the overflowing bowls.

The next morning I left at sunrise to try to fine a land formation I remembered from my childhood, a part of the Hogback that we used to drive past sometimes on our way home from family day-trips to the mountains or to visit my cousins in Golden.

Deer in front of Red Rocks

The Hogback I remembered from childhood

Sherrie and Mark

Isaac Mark Sherrie Emma Trudy Steve at the Keyhole

Joan Vienot, hiking at Devil’s Backbone Open Space

The Dakota Hogback is an outcropping of rock that lifted up at a slant all along and in front of the Rockies. The sandwiching layers of earth and softer stone eroded away, leaving dramatic formations of of exposed rock, sometimes so beautiful that they are established landmarks, like Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Boulder Flatirons. The part I was interested in just looks like the spiny bladed back of a stegosaurus, and the road ran right alongside it. I drove out on I-70 towards the mountains, and I exited on Hogback Road. I stopped every now and then to take photos, but I drove all the way down to Littleton without finding the formation I remembered. On my return trip, I had high hopes for an area called Dinosaur Ridge, but the Hogback was not visible from the road there. Finally I crossed back over to the north side of I-70, and there it was, although as with all childhood memories, I remembered it being significantly bigger and also dramatically lit by the sunset instead of the midday sun. Of course the road is now paved, and travel is at 60 mph instead of a bumpy 45 over gravel. So there it was, and then it was gone. But I was thrilled to have found it.

That weekend I drove to Greeley to visit with my sister Sherrie and her husband Mark, and we went to the Hogback west of Loveland, a county-maintained recreational area called Devil’s Backbone Open Space. We scouted the hiking trail for a place for me to paint the next day. We found a beautiful overlook, and the next morning I hiked up at sunrise with my painting gear, and I painted in bliss all morning. At noon my other sister Trudy and my brother-in-law Steve were joining us, so I went back down for lunch and then we again hiked the easy trail along the beautiful, craggy Hogback formation there.

Joan Vienot, painting at Devil’s Backbone Open Space

It was interesting painting the Hogback at sunrise. Normally, vertical shapes are darker than flat horizontal surfaces, because horizontal surfaces receive more light from the sun and the sky. But early in the morning the opposite was true, because the sun was lighting the side of the rock formations. As the morning progressed, both surfaces seemed to be equally lit, and then finally at midday, the ground colors became washed out as the vertical rocks grew darker.

I was puzzled by the receding meadows of sage and grass. The near field was a mix of dusty-green and lavender shapes, but the more distant fields seems to be a brighter yellow-green. Normally, more distant planes become bluer and lighter, and much less saturated. I decided the Colorado air was deceiving me. But later, as we hiked along the rock formation and passed beside those fields, I saw that they actually were made up not of sagebrush and grasses, but instead they were carpeted with small, bright yellow wildflowers! When I was painting, my eyes did not deceive me, I simply did not believe my eyes!

I so enjoyed painting at Devil’s Backbone Open Space that I would like to go again, and spend about a week there. As I think about my art career which only just now is really getting off the ground, now that I have fully retired from my career in swimming pool service, this would be the ideal way to travel, going to an area and instead of trying to see it all, finding something that particularly excites me, and then spending a whole week painting it.

I see and experience so much more when I paint. If I am driving, I will stop and shoot a lot of photos, but being still for several hours in one spot, painting, affords an absorption of experience that is unsurpassable. And the process also includes just getting there! On my hike I surprised a couple of deer near the trail, and also a rabbit who eyed me warily. And on the opposite cliffs, 4 deer walking the ridge were silhouetted against the sun. The day before, we watched a kestrel trying to scare away a big owl perched on a ledge in the cliff of the Hogback. And I found the most brilliant yellow in the lichen on the rocks, as bright as any wildflower! These are things you just don’t see if you are moving too quickly. I so love the Great Outdoors, and strongly feel the necessity of preserving and protecting it. So I document it, or at least my impression of it.

Yellow Lichen

 

 

2018 St. George Island Plein Air Paint-Out

April 24, 2018 in Landscape by joanvienot

The Plantation of St. George Island is a beautiful gated community situated on the west end of St. George Island, one bridge away from Eastpoint and and two bridges away from Apalachicola, Florida. The Arts Committee of the community, led by Bunnie Ison, produced the 2018 St. George island Paint-Out, an invitational plein air event. The artists participating were Catherine Hillis, Olena Babak, Craig Reynolds, Vernia Moore, Lynn Wilson, Debby Brienen, Randy Pitts, Janyce Loughridge, Randy Brienen, Karen Margulis, and Kelly Rysavy, Alison Menke, Natalia Andrea, Ed Nickerson, and me, Joan Vienot.. This was my first invitational plein air paint-out. I was a little worried because I thought that most of the other artists have been in invitational paint-outs before, and I had the impression that all were extremely talented. So it was to my surprise at the end of the week when I found one of my paintings, ” Marsh at Nick’s Hole” decorated with a 2nd place ribbon by judges Sandi Shaw of Pines and Palms Gallery of Thomasville, GA, and Ann Kozeliski of LeMoyne Gallery, Tallahassee, FL. The other winners were Alison Leigh Menke, Best in Show; and Natalia Andreeva,1st Place; and Ed Nickerson, 3rd Place.

Oil painting of the lime-green foliage and purple grasses of the marsh at Nick's Hole on St. George Island, FL

Awarded 2nd Place in 2018 St. George Island Paint-Out: “Marsh at Nick’s Hole”, 6×12, oils.

Oil painting o yellow beach flag on pole with stormy gray sky and waves in background, on St. George Island, FL

Yellow Flag Day

Day 1, Monday, April 9, 2018: On the first day of the St. George Island Paint-Out the weather was predicted to be rainy. I set up near on the boardwalk near a pavilion in St. George Island State Park. I was amused that despite the strong wind and boisterous surf, the warning flag for swimmers was merely a yellow caution flag. Where I live, a surf like that would have closed the waters — we would have had a red or even a double red flag. I decided that St. George Islanders must be a tough bunch. I painted the whipping flag and the surf, and called it “Yellow Flag Day”.

Oil painting of the massive primary dune at St. George Island State Park, FL

Spring Dune on St. George Island

After lunch on Day 1, I painted the big, protective, mother bear of a dune, the primary dune, looking eastward, in the St. George Island State Park. It peaked some distance from me so that I could not see it guarding the coast to the end of the island. The day continued to be blustery. That evening all of the artists were treated to dinner at the Clubhouse at the Plantation of St. George Island, and we were asked to bring the day’s paintings. I was floored buy the talent, skill, and expressiveness of my fellow artists. This was going to be a great week!

Old painting study for Shifting Sands, showing sand drifting over a boardwalk on St. George Island, Florida

Study for Shifting Sands

Ink sketch, study for Shifting Sands, St. George Island, FL

Sketch for Shifting Sands

Day 2, Tuesday, April 10, 2018: I left my host’s house at dark-thirty on Tuesday, and crossed the bridge from Apalachicola to St. George Island just as the sun was coming up. I stopped to catch a few photos of it, vowing to be there earlier the next day so that I could try to capture some of the color.

My host and fellow artist Lynn Wilson had mentioned the dunes in the Plantation, so on I went, on a mission to find them. I must have taken 100 photos — even though the day was fast becoming gray. One dune was drifting over a boardwalk, and I prepared to paint it by first sketching it and then painting a small 4×6 study of the basic shapes. And then the rain came. It got cold, and breezy, and I made a mad dash, lugging most of my gear back to my car before the torrential rain started. Time for a nice, big, late breakfast at The Beach Pit, one of our paint-out sponsors. When the rain stopped and I returned to my scene but it was not nearly as charming as it had been in the morning. So I changed my angle and painted the dune beside it, which had a huge scoop of out of it where the winter winds had blown the sand from the dune to now cover the boardwalk. I called it “Sands of Time.”

Oil painting of the scooped dune where the wind is carving it to drift over the adjacent boardwalk on St. George Island, FL

Sands of Time

Oil painting of the lime-green foliage and purple grasses of the marsh at Nick's Hole on St. George Island, FL

Marsh on St. George Island, also pictured above.

Day 3, Wednesday April 11, 2018: I had a half-day workshop for 3 people that lasted well into the afternoon. Painting while teaching is not the same for me as painting by myself — my demo’s rarely have the same immediacy, probably because I am explaining everything as I go along. The left half of our brain is the logical, sequential, linguistic side; the right side is the creative, intuitive, expressionistic side. The two sides are connected by the corpus colossum, so that the two halves can exchange and coordinate  information. I think my corpus colossum could use some calisthenics. I find running both halves of my brain at the same time to be quite a challenge. So as frustrating as it was, it wasn’t really a surprise to me that I was less than thrilled with my painting at the end of the workshop. It was excellent practice, but not a “keeper”, so I wiped it off. So I had no painting to show for my efforts that day. Frustrated, I walked out onto the dock at Nick’s Hole, and was greeted by my favorite scene on the island, the marsh grasses. I am always struck by the lime-green of the foliage in the barren sand where water sometimes floods in from the bayou. This year it is a particularly abundant, and begged to be painted. My painting of this scene was awarded second place by the event judges at the opening reception at the end of the week.

Day 4, Thursday, April 12, 2018: Finally, I got a chance to capture some of the color of the sky just as the sun was coming up. I painted one painting, and started a second one, but then it was too far into the morning — all of the color was gone. I would finish the second one the next day.

Oil painting of the sunrise at the south end of the bridge to St. George Island, Florida

First Light, St. George Island

 

Oil painting of the lighthouse on St. George Island, FL

St. George Light

Several of the artists offered demo’s or workshops throughout the week. On Thursday, Craig Reynolds demo’d the Lighthouse at the center of the island. I set up my easel to paint at the back of the class. I enjoyed the oh-so-subtle shadow wrapping around the right side of the white lighthouse.

Oil painting of the sunrise at the south end of the bridge to St. George Island, Florida

Sun-Up on St. George Island

Oil painting of the sunrise at the south end of the bridge to St. George Island, painted en plein air

Daybreak on St. George Island

Day 5, Friday, April 13, 2018: I finished my second sunrise from the previous day, and painted a third! I see neither the sunrise nor the sunset from my home, being surrounded by tall trees on the feeder creek to a bayou. Clearly I am thirsty for them. I predict some early morning walks on the beach in my future.

Oil painting in shades of yellow, of the lighthouse on St. george Island with blinding sunlight behind it

Seeing the Light

Friday was my birthday, and I can think of no better birthday present than to have spent this week painting on St. George Island! It defined happiness! Uncertain what to paint after the bright colors of sunrise, I drove to the center of the island, thinking I might do the street scene, but I looked up at the lighthouse and was blinded by the sun behind the lens and the catwalk railings. Why not give it a go, I thought. The resulting painting was definitely plein air but also was extremely expressive of my state of mind, without concern for the true color of the lighthouse but rather an attempt to show the blinding light. I was thrilled with the result. I have always been fairly disciplined in my plein air efforts, trying to be true to form and color, saving expressive painting for occasional studio works. This painting was for me a breath of fresh air.

Freshly inspired I drove back to the Plantation of St. George Island to again paint in the dunes area of Resort Village, but this time facing northward towards the developed area instead of south towards the beach. A path from the nearby houses in Resort Village passed through the wild on its way to the boardwalks to the beach. I set up my easel beside the path, my eye caught by two pines standing sentinel over the scrub. The late afternoon light was bright on the spring colors, and the shadows were casting beautiful blue-gray contours over the lay of the sand. Members of a family passed me a few times, and one, Carl, stopped and gave me his card when I was about to stop for the day, and he said, “I want that painting!” I told him it wasn’t finished yet, and he said that was OK, but he would be gone the next morning, to go ahead and finish it and to let him know when it was done. So I went to that evening’s Meet-and-Greet where I and Debby Brienen and Randy Brienen were the honored guests, and the next morning, Saturday, I finished “Carl’s Path”.

Oil painting of the landscape beside the path to the beach in Resort Village of the Plantation on St. George Island, FL

Carl’s Path

How can I sum this up? What a wonderful week! A mountain of thanks to Bunnie Ison and Buena Brown, and to my host and painting buddy Lynn Wilson, and to my resource person and Girl Friday, Barbara Iman, event judges Sandi Shaw, Pines and Palms Gallery, Thomasville, GA, and Ann Kozeliski, LeMoyne Arts, Tallahassee, FL, and to the Plantation of St. George Island, the visitor’s center, and the community supporters, and all the sponsors…

Community supporters:

St. George Island Paint Out Sponsors:

 

And Now, a Thirty-Day Challenge

February 3, 2018 in Figurative, Landscape, Other Art, Plein Air, Still Life by joanvienot

Artist and art marketing guru Leslie Saeta periodically offers a 30-day challenge, to paint 30 paintings in 30 days. Since I managed to complete Mary Gilkerson’s Five-Day Challenge, I thought I’d give this one a whirl. Eventually, there should be 30 paintings on this blog post, and I will also post to Instagram at @JoanVienotArt and to Facebook at Joan Vienot Art. The 30-day challenge will start February 1, 2018 and will run through the first couple days in March.
Collage of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days artwork

The 30-Day Challenge is now complete, and I am happy to say that I managed to paint every day! It’s not so hard, if it is a priority. Granted, many of them are small, just 6×6, but I made each one of them count as a learning experience. At the same time, I had scheduled 5 workshops during this 30 days, so it indeed was a period of learning. Probably the most difficult part of it was posting to my blog and to social media — that took a minimum of 30 minutes each day, and if I wasn’t careful, I could find myself stuck on social media for another couple of hours, catching up on friends’ activities and generally being entertained by the mishmash of news and minutia one finds on Facebook. Below are my 30 paintings.

 

Oil painting of a stalk from a cotton plantOil painting of a stalk from a cotton plant

 

Day 30, 3/2/2018: Cotton Stalk, 12×6 oils on canvas panel, painted from still-life set up in studio. This was a fun to paint. I purposefully painted a light background, so that the cotton bolls would be harder to see, requiring the stalk in order to be identified. Somehow this seems to me to be a picture of my life, that the things I think are important, are nothing without the thread or the stalk that binds them together. 

Oil painting in progress, waves coming in from the Gulf of Mexico

Day 29, work in progress

Final version of oil painting completed in Dorothy Starbuck's workshop on breaking waves, previously posted in-progress

Finished version

 

Day 29, 3/1/18: Calming the Waters, 16×20 oils on linen panel, painting in progress in Dorothy Starbuck workshop at the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. We are each using a different reference photo, to learn to paint a translucent breaking wave, and the lacy foam left on the surface after a wave has come in. Our paints are cadmium yellow light, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, thalo blue, thalo green, viridian green, and titanium white. At right is the finished piece.

 

 

 

 

Incomplete oil painting, study of Tupelo Pavilion in Seaside, FL, en plein air

Day 28, 2/18/18: unfinished Tupelo Pavilion Study, 11×14, oils on linen panel, painted en plein air at Seaside, Florida. I am taking a workshop from my neighbor and friend Dorothy Starbuck which it started today, my local plein air group’s day to paint. So I went to our plein air location early, right after the sun came up, and got started, but 2 hours was not enough time for me because I struggled so much getting the architecture right before I started applying color. I still have the roofline wrong — the roof on the right side of the arch needs to be a foot taller at the eave.

Mixed media work depicting two shorebirds, stamped patterns of spirals and scrubbed out paint, and asemic writing

Day 27, 2/27/18: Recovery Notes, 9×12 mixed media on Yupo paper. I had a definite idea before I started, so this is not entirely experimental art, but enough so that I am calling it experimental. Most of that is because I am not very familiar with the media I was using — acrylic paint, alcohol inks and Yupo paper.  I live on a bayou, just a few miles from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. I think that living near a large body of water accelerates interpersonal and spiritual growth. It’s like walking in a labyrinth with everyone else, and side-by-side, when all of a sudden you find yourself going in the opposite direction, or perhaps even in the same direction but several tracks away from the people you were walking with. Who moved – them or you? No doubt both, but either way, it takes some adjustment and some getting used to, hence my title for this piece, Recovery Notes, as I recover from a growth spurt.

Oil painting of the twilight, with light starting to touch the clouds before sunrise on Jekyll Island, GA

Day 26, 2/26/18: Jekyll Island Twilight, 6×6 oils on Gessobord. I’ve been taking a workshop from Jason Sacran through Anderson Fine Art Gallery, St. simons Island, GA. On my last day in the area, I drove back out to Jekyll Island to see “Driftwood Beach”, where many very old trees have been laid bare by the winds and water, the unbleached wood completely de-barked, and many of the trees tipped over but still anchored into the beach. (Driftwood is a misnomer.) As I was crossing the causeways and the bridges, the sky was brightening, and the sun was finally just peaking over the marshes as I was approaching Jekyll Island. This is my impression of the sun-kissed clouds, painted after I returned home.

Oil painting of an ancient live oak tree on Jekyll island, GA

Day 25, 2/25/18: Jekyll Island Crone 2, 16×20 oils on linen panel, painted en plein air. I am attending Jason Sacran’s plein air painting workshop sponsored by Anderson Fine Art Gallery on St. Simons Island, GA. We are painting on Jekyll Island. A crone is a woman in the latter third of her life, after childbearing is over. She is wise, nurturing, soulful, creative, weathered, a bit stooped and twisted, but hard as nails, a survivor. Birds nest in her hair, she holds the weight of the world on her broad shoulders, and animals shelter under her canopy. My dad is 98 and still going strong. If that is how long I will live, then I have just entered my crone years.

Oil painting of an ancient live oak tree on Jekyll Island, painted in Jason Sacran workshop

Watercolor study of a very old live oak tree on Jekyll Island in Georgia

Day 24, 2/24/18: Jekyll Island Crone 1, 16×20 oils on linen panel, and Study for Jekyll Island Crone, 8×6 watercolor on paper, painted en plein air. I am attending Jason Sacran’s plein air painting workshop sponsored by Anderson Fine Art Gallery on St. Simons Island, GA. We are painting on Jekyll Island, intending to work on the same painting for two days. There are a lot of ancient cedars and live oak trees on the west side of the island.

Study of the afternoon light on the marsh at the north end of Jekyll Island, GA

Day 23, 2/23/18: Jekyll Island Marsh, oils on canvas panel, a plein air study, painted in Jason Sacran workshop. Tomorrow we will be painting larger paintings of the same scene we studied today.

Graphite sketch of farmhouse sceneDay 22, 2/22/18: Morning Sketch, 8×6 graphite on cream paper. Today was the first day of a workshop with Jason Sacran, and I didn’t want to be worried about posting for my 30-day challenge, so I just posted my morning sketches.

 

Watercolor and ink sketch of Tucker Bayou, Point Washington, FL, at sunset

Day 21, 2/21/18: Good Night, Sleep Tight, 8×8 watercolor and ink on paper, a color sketch of Tucker Bayou, Point Washington, FL, at sunset. Today I don’t have a lot of time for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. I am embarking on another adventure, this time to study from Jason Sacran, who is teaching at the Mary Anderson Gallery on St. Simons Island, GA. That scenic area has a strong pull for me, and I am excited to be going there for this workshop. I hope my cats will forgive me these absences!  

Oil painting of abstracted design of pine roots exposed by erosion on the bay shoreline

Day 20, 2/20/18: Roots, 12×9 oils on aluminum panel, produced at the end of the Mary Garrish workshop at the Artist Cove Studio-Gallery in Panama City, FL. I was attempting to make this painting using the new materials we were introduced to, which were the Scott Christensen landscape oil colors by Vasari (Bluff, Ship Rock, Adobe, Shale, Jasper, Silver Point, Cedar, and Bice), painted on an aluminum panel. On the first day, I was a little early for the workshop, so I stopped and walked around at the Historic Marker just down the way from the gallery, on Beach Drive. Erosion had bared the roots of several pines there. This painting is an abstraction of the pattern of the exposed roots. I used my rubber tipped tool to make the weeds, revealing the shiny aluminum underneath.

Example from exercise in glazing and scumbling in Mary Garrish workshop

Day 19, 2/19/18: Florida Dawn, mixed media on paper, an exercise in glazing and scumbling in the Mary Garrish workshop at The Artist Cove Studio-Gallery in Panama City, FL.

Oil painting of Fog on the Point on Beach Ave. in Panama City, FL

Day 18, 2/18/18: Fog on the Point Again, 6×12 oils on canvas panel, painted in Mary Garrish workshop at The Artist Cove Studio-Gallery in Panama City, FL. Our task was to paint a scene in all values, but to vary the color within areas of one value, and to add light in the clouds.

Oil painting of the lifting fog, on Beach Drive in Panama City, FL

 

Day 17, 2/17/18: Fog on the Point, 6×8 oils on canvas panel, painted in Mary Garrish workshop at The Artist Cove Studio-Gallery in Panama City, FL. Our task was to paint a scene in only 3 values, in black, white, and gray, and then to paint it again in 5 values. After that, we could add color or colors, but the values had to remain the same.This was my 5-value color piece.Oil painting of lily pads and a single water lily blossom, up close

Day 16, 2/16/2018: Mid-September Lily, 6×6 oils on Gessobord, a bittersweet painting from a photo I took on my last paddle with three dear friends last summer.

Day 15, 2/15/2018: Onion 1, 6×6 oils on Gessobord, painted from life. This onion kicked my butt. Painting an onion is much harder than you might think! I will paint an onion whenever I start feeling accomplished. It will humble me.

Oil painting of the Phantom of the Aqua being dug out of Miramar Beach where it drifted ashore after it was damaged by Hurricane Nate and its captain, without options, was rescued from it, far offshore

Later that afternoon they had turned the boat. Click for larger image.

Day 14, 2/14/18: Freeing the Phantom of the Aqua, 8×10 oils on canvas panel, painted en plein air. Last fall this sailboat, the Phantom of the Aqua, was damaged during Hurricane Nate and its captain had to be rescued from it far offshore. He thought the boat would just sink in the stormy Gulf, but instead, it drifted up to the shore at Miramar Beach in Northwest Florida, just 15 miles from my house, and became firmly entrenched in the beach. I paint with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters every Wednesday, and we decided to paint the Phantom last week. Alas, the weather forecast was awful, so we postponed it to this week, only to read in the paper that the new owner would be towing it to his salvage yard to refurbish it, this very week. Nevertheless hopeful, we arrived today to find the roadside lined with onlookers, the crowd growing to hundreds as the day progressed, many going down to the beach with their beach chairs, to watch the proceedings from behind the yellow caution tape forming barriers from dunes to the sea, several hundred yards out from the boat in either direction. Distant fog was providing a wonderful atmosphere. A Caterpillar excavator was parked on the low side of the boat, near the water, and four Code Enforcement pick-up trucks were parked on the beach, and a few groups of workmen were standing around the boat and the pick-ups. The crowd lined the street-level sidewalk, the elevation affording everyone excellent vantage. Nothing much was happening yet, so we all found our various locations to paint, in and amongst the onlookers. After a while, the excavator started digging on the water side of the boat, and piling sand nearby, but it was slow going. We all were able to produce fair paintings without the boat moving, thankfully. Later, I came back by the scene after we had lunch down the road — at left is a photo showing the considerable progress they had made, and the excavator now up on the higher part of the beach..

Oil painting of two pears on a gray background

Day 13, 2/13/18: Pears 1, 6×6 oils on Gessobord. I named this painting Pears 1, because I am certain there are many more pears in my future. I love the colors and shapes of pears!

Oil painting of a group of people seated at a table under a cloth umbrella

Day 12, 2/12/18: Dinner After Plein Air, 6×6 oils on hardboard. In this painting I made an effort to create larger shapes, and not try so hard to model the interior of the shapes, but rather to leave them flatter, and to show receding space through temperature and overlapping. The idea for this painting came from a plein air workshop I took in Taos a couple of years ago. I think I’d like to refine the legs of the person with the yellow sweater — I want them to look like they are crossed above the knee, but I lost the lower knee.

Palette knife oil painting of the dunes and Gulf of Mexico on a stormy day

Day 11, 2/11/2018: Storm Warning, 6×6 oils on canvas panel. We’ve had incredible rains here in Northwest Florida yesterday and today, and seasonal affective disorder is setting in — everything is gray, and dark, my phone receiving continuous updates of FEMA warnings for the potential for flooding. This color scheme, and in fact this composition, is very very common in this area, and super easy to paint — I’m allowed an easy one now and then, right? I used a palette knife to challenge myself. I really should practice with a knife more often.

Acrylic/mixed media painting, highly textured, earth colors

Day 10, 2/10/2018: The Phoenix Will Rise, 20x16x1.5 acrylic/mixed media on stretched canvas, texture started in Jan Sitts workshop last week. I refined the texture today, and painted this expression of earth tones, and am pondering if it should go further. Non-objective work is outside of my comfort zone, but this experimental art workshop left me feeling charged up!

 

An oil painting of Norah in pearls and a big hat, painted from life

Day 9, 2/9/2018: Norah, 12×9 oils on canvas, painted from a live model at this week’s Figurative Artists Atelier, an uninstructed open studio with a live model. Typically we have 5 one-minute warm-up sketches, and 2 5-minute warm-up sketches, and then we launch into a single pose for the remainder of the 3-hour session, in 20-minute segments with 5-10 minute breaks between the segments, to allow the model to regain circulation and ease any tension from the pose. I will be tweaking this just a little, now that it is back at my studio, but not much. I really liked this model’s attitude and haughty expression.

Acrylic mixed media painting completed in Jan Sitts workshop, using textures, tissue and gold foil, and netting.

Day 8. 2/8/2018: Champagne on the Emerald Coast, 16 x 20 acrylic mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas, painting Jan Sitts acrylic / mixed media workshop at the Cultural Arts Alliance in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.

Acrylic painting of patterned stripes resembling waves in the Gulf of Mexico on the Emerald Coast

Day 7, 2/7/18: Emerald Sounds, 6×6 acrylic on canvas panel,painted in Jan Sitts workshop. The stripes resembling the waves of the Gulf of Mexico on the Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida, were created using multiple layers of paint.

Acrylic painting using Saran wrap technique, resulting in nonrepresentational piece subtly resembling a rocky forest

Day 6, 2/6/18: The Faeries’ Forest, 6×6 acrylic on panel, painted in Jan Sitts‘ experimental workshop hosted by the Cultural Arts Alliance. The visual texture on this piece was created using Saran wrap.

Acrylic / mixed media painting, non-objective, diagonal bands of the colors of the Emerald Coast of florida

Day 5, 2/5/18: Rip Tide, 6×6 acrylic / mixed media on Gessobord, painted in Jan Sitts experimental workshop hosted by the Cultural Arts Alliance. I am totally outside of my comfort zone. Today we textured our supports with acrylic gel medium and various tools and supplies, but mine were not dry enough to paint on, so I created this small piece, texturing only with pinstriping tape. Our assignment was to not have a subject in mind while we worked, but rather to apply texture and color intuitively.

Oil painting of Lake Powell and the Gulf of Mexico, including the old Camp Helen pier, with the sun shining rays through the clouds

Day 4, 2/4/18: Angel Light Over Lake Powell, 6×6 oils on Gessobord. Today I was going to paint something easy. Then this view of Lake Powell, caught my eye, and having never painted “angel light” before, I thought, why not! I spent far too long on this exercise, thanks to being on the phone a good part of the time. Distracted, I found myself playing with the clouds, and then wishing I hadn’t and fixing them, and fixing them a little too much — play-fix-fix again, and repeat –while the phone call continued. It reminds me of the time I was having my hair cut, and the stylist had just returned from a trip to Russia. It was a long trip and a long story, and as she told it, my hair got shorter and shorter.  😯

Oil painting of Gulf Islands National Seashore on Okaloosa Island

Day 3, 2/3/18: Bay View from Okaloosa Island, 6×6 oils on Gessobord. I shoot a lot of photos to help me choose a location I want to paint with our local plein air painting group, and this is one of those locations. We paint here every 4 months or so. There are palms, pines, cedars, scrub oaks, mockingbirds, kite-sailors, a changing sky, tugboats and barges, winding paths through the grass, sand, water — did I mention it’s a National Seashore? Gulf Islands, on Okaloosa Island, to answer that.

Day 2, 2/2/18: Figure with Red Coat, 6×6 oils on Gessobord. On Fridays I attend the Figurative Artists Atelier, a live-model painting session at the Foster Gallery. Usually we have an extended pose, but today we had a different pose every 20 minutes.Oil painting of sweet cat looking up, upside-down

Day 1, 2/1/18: Coraline, 6×6 oils on Gessobord. This is one of my two cats, a rescue cat I adopted from Alaqua Animal Refuge.

Thank you for visiting. Many of my paintings are available for purchase. Click on the image to see pricing and to contact me to purchase or to commission a painting.

Five-Day Challenge

January 18, 2018 in Landscape, Other Art by joanvienot

I am participating in Mary Gilkerson’s Art+Work+Living Five-Day Challenge, which is to paint a painting in 20-30 minutes every day for five days. The purpose is to develop a daily painting practice, using a knife or #6 brush or larger. I plan to add an to add a painting to this blog every day for 5 days.

And Day 5, January 22, 2018: Apple, 6×6 oils on hardboard. I painted this while looking at the Apple. This concludes the Five-Day Challenge, so now the question is, will I continue this daily painting practice? I intend to,  at least puttering in the studio whether not I produce anything worth looking at.  In the process of doing this, I also have straightened out a glitch in my Instagram account so that now it will post both to Instagram and to Facebook at the same time. It was something about how I had created the account, that it just would not post no matter how hard I tried.  I ended up having to dissociate the accounts, delete them from my phone, and re-upload them, and then change the IG account to a business account, and then re-associate the accounts. Now I am learning all about hashtags.

Oils on hardboard

Day 4, January 21, 2018: Aloe, oils on hardboard, 6×6. Last month I bought about 20 6×6 pieces of hardboard last month, planning to start a daily painting practice and not wanting to use expensive linen panels. I wanted to feel free to experiment and have less investment in the outcome, both emotional and financial. I realized I hadn’t primed them, so I gesso’d 12 of them, all that I had space for. I use clear gesso on panels or board that is not white; that way I don’t have to tone it to reduce the glare of white gesso. Now… what to paint? I have potted aloe on top of the microwave near the kitchen window, and it receives beautiful high-contrast morning light. I decided that would be my subject, and I squeezed out some greens that are not normally on my palette — sap green, thalo yellow-green, and viridian. (Normally I mix my greens, for plein air painting and for painting the figure.) For the Five-Day Challenge, we are supposed to be reducing the amount of time we paint, from 30 minutes to 20, not counting color-mixing. Since I mix as I go, I adidn’t worry about the time. My timer stopped me at 30. I squinted at my work to evaluate it — not enough contrast. I took another 10 minutes to add some darks, and I cleaned up some edges, and then added a few scalloped edges on some of the leaves, to help identify it as aloe. I’d like to give this subject a second try, reducing the amount of reflected blue light and making it more distinct. Also I will place the pot differently, so it doesn’t look like it is ready to fall off a table. I wasn’t thinking much about composition when I started this painting, just the luscious greens.


Day 3, January 20, 2018: Sunrise on Eden Drive, oils on canvas panel, 6×6. Today’s painting used a photo I recently took looking out over my yard from my front deck. My house has a bayou in my back yard, and behind the lot across the street from me, a freshwater creek, which together provide wonderful atmosphere on winter mornings when the air is colder than the water. I learned my lesson yesterday, today painting with a well-shaped brush. It’s a #6, as recommended by the guidelines for this project. A well-shaped brush can be turned on it’s edge to deliver very thin strokes. The wet paint created a little glare on the left side of this photo of my painting.


Day 2, January 19, 2018: Four Views of Merritt, oils on canvas or birch panels, 6×6 each. On Fridays, I enjoy studying the figure in the open studio with a model at the Foster Gallery on Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach, just 10 miles from my home.  Since I am doing this five-day challenge, I decided I would use figure painting to fulfill my challenge commitment. We break up the long pose into 20 minute segments, so I painted four 20-minute versions of the same pose, moving my easel for each segment so that I would have a different view. The first painting was on a canvas panel, and the other three were on clear-gesso’d birch. The small format was pretty restrictive, and painting with a number six brush was very difficult because it was not a well-shape brush, rather like painting with a dogs tail, I imagine. But no excuses, because I know some artists who can paint with a stick if they forget their brushes so it’s all a matter of experience. 


Initial version

Oil painting of two palms in a meadow, the first of a Five-Day challenge, to paint a painting every day for five days

Corrected, final version

Day 1: January 18, 2018, Two Palms, oils on canvas, 6×6. Apologies for the glare on the canvas — it actually is pretty well covered — the canvas texture is showing because of the wet glare. It was difficult to put down my #6 brush after only 30 minutes. I’m not sure what’s happening with that gigantic branch hanging down on the right. So much refinement can be done in just a few more minutes, but I’m going to try to follow the rules for this Five-Day challenge. I was working from a photo on my iPhone, and was timing myself with my meditation timer app. I had app’d the photo into 3 values – black, white, and gray – with “Notanizer” so that I could simplify the darks and lights, and had sketched even more of the darks on a print-out from that app, to remind myself to make a workable silhouette with my darks from the get-go. When i started, I used pure ultramarine blue for my darks. Unfortunately I never got around to warming my trees so my eye tends to go to the warm grass in the foreground instead of to the trees. Now the decision — whether to keep it and refine it, or to wipe it off and salvage the canvas.