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30A Songwriters, Chautauqua, and Girls Getaway, an Exciting 3 Weeks

Oil painting of Chinese lion statue at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet

Oil painting of the view from the Oak Marina at Niceville, FloridaI am painting 3 weekends in a row, or at least I plan to.  Let’s just say I’m taking my vitamins, in preparation for that much painting!

Last week I went to the Oak Marina, in Niceville, for the weekly outing with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters.  It was a bit breezy and chilly, but nothing like the 40 hours below freezing the week before!  I dare say no one here in Northwest Florida was out painting that week!  I know I wasn’t — I was huddled by the fireplace.  This week I just put on my wind pants and turned up my collar.

I was working on a canvas panel that I had underpainted with a sort of a russet color acrylic, which initially I regretted, because it was difficult to cover when I was trying to paint my sky.  Later in the painting I achieved the results I had wanted, when I scratched down to the underpainting for the detail lines.  Accomplished fellow painter Charlotte Arnold told me to feather downward on the juicy paint to turn my splotches into Spanish moss, on the huge oak bordering my painting.

Oil painting of eucalyptus in a blue pot at Grayt Grounds of Monet MonetThis past weekend was highlighted by the annual 30A Songwriters Festival, one of two amazing festivals produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance, the area arts organization here where I live.  I was privileged to work with my friend Leslie Kolovich who produces podcast interviews.  She had several singer-songwriter artists and groups in her studio over the weekend, who performed live and impromptu for us.  You can listen to those podcasts at  Below is a quick iPhone photo of THE Jeep Rosenberg being interviewed (I love this job).

photo-7 Oil painting of Chinese lion statue at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet

In the mornings I painted plein air in the gardens at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet, the wonderful coffeeshop and event venue that is displaying some of my work.  They put my work on easels throughout the gardens, for the weekenders strolling through with their coffee, who chatted with me while I painted.  It was downright cold the first day, so I looked like the Michelin Man, dressed in my quilted snowsuit.  The second morning was much warmer, and I enjoyed the sounds of a band playing for the coffeeshop patrons while I painted.  Grayt Grounds is selling my work online too:  Click here!

This weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, January 24-25-26, 2014, I will be painting “on the circle” around the lake in DeFuniak Springs, FL, for the Chautauqua Festival.  A number of painters from our local plein air group will be there, as well as some traveling specifically for this event.  The festival has dedicated a room for us to hang our wet paintings, and has invited us to show our work.  On Friday the 24th, I also will be attending the opening reception for the A+Art “Outdoor Magic” exhibit of plein air paintings at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College.  I might still be in my painting clothes!!

And the weekend after that, on Superbowl weekend, I will be painting in Rosemary Beach, during the Girls Getaway, again with other local plein air painters.

Anyone can paint at these events.  If you want to paint with us, you may contact me through this website and I will put you in touch Beckie Perrott, who graciously informs us of all these plein air opportunities.

This last painting I made this weekend, was one of the two stone Chinese lion statues in the gardens at Grayt Grounds.  With the typical bugged-out eyes, and a large pearl in his mouth, this iconic statue was harder to paint than I thought it would be.  I ended up not painting much of the surrounding foliage, spending most of the time trying to capture his face.  This lion was different than most of this type.  Most of these are in pairs, as is this set, and the male lion has a ball under his right foot, and the female an inverted cub under her left foot, but this lion has a four-legged critter sitting under his right foot, a critter I could not identify.  I’ll have to ask the owner, who owns the jewelry store next to the coffeeshop.

Most of my paintings and images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot


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Refilling the Well – 30A Songwriters Festival

As an artist, I think I produce better work when I round out my life by attending art events, where I can appreciate the work of other artists.  Such is this week, the week of the annual 30A Songwriters Festival.  More than 120 singer/songwriters are performing at 40 venues up and down Scenic Highway 30A, which is the road following the coast of the county where I live.  The event is produced by the local arts association, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (Florida).  This year marks the third annual production, which takes place on MLK weekend every year.

When I was a about 8 years old, my Mom made me take piano lessons for 3 years.  I hated them, but my sister was taking lessons.  I tried to do everything she did, baton twirling, gymnastics, swimming, you name it, even though she was always better than me.  I was a good sport at most things, but it was hard to find joy in practicing the piano.  I think the only thing I disliked more was doing the dishes for our family of 6.  I can’t sing either — you can ask anybody and they will confirm that as fact.  I never learned any instrument, and in fact I can barely play the radio.

But I am absolutely transported when I watch a live musical performance, especially when the artist emotes.  So I take in all that I can stay awake for, at the 30A Songwriters Festival.  Some of the people are big names, others are known only in the industry, and yet others are new, budding artists, some known only locally:  Shawn Mullins, Joan Osborne, Sam Bush, Tommy Tolton, Amy Ray, Kelsey Anna, Dannica Lowery, Larkin Poe, Jeep Rosenberg, Suzi Ragsdale, Jim Lauderdale and many many others.

I posted a video of Nikolas Metaxas‘s vocal talent on YouTube for your awe and amazement.  Below are some of the artists who performed at Hibiscus the first night of the festival.

Adron Dannica Lowery Lara Herscovitch
Alicia McGovern Suzi Ragsdale Ben Friedman