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.
This fall I am investing my time in cultivating my community’s appreciation for plein air painting, as well as promoting my own work. Many people in my community have never heard of plein air painting, so that is taking extra effort. My local arts association, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, is very supportive. The CAA will be adding a plein air paint-out to our existing Flutterby Festival at Watersound Origins here in Santa Rosa beach, FL, in November. I will be teaching a one-day workshop the day before the festival, the lesson being effective shape-making to start a plein air painting in a way that will offer a high likelihood of success.
Art marketers say that 20% of your time as an artist should be spent on marketing. I am spending more than 20% of my art energy right now, but I expect it to level off. I actually had intended for last year, my third year of plein air painting, to be my marketing year. The transition and adjustment after selling my pool service business took more time than I had anticipated.
Joan Vienot, Melody Bogle, Carol Ann Cain, Donnelle Clark, Kathy Schumacher, Krista Schumacher, Margaret Biggs, Mary Redmann, Melissa Brown, Polli Youngbeck, Robin Wiesneth, Sarah Stewart, Susan Lucas, Victoria Guennewig, and Roslyn O’Grady are the 15 artists juried into The Foster Gallery’s Winter Rotation. Depending on the sizes of their works, each artist is showing from 5 to 15 pieces. “The Foster Gallery is an artist co-operative led by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County that features at least a dozen artists on a seasonally rotating basis, along with special exhibits. Named for the late Susan Foster, founder of the Cultural Arts Alliance and one of the area’s first professional artists and gallery owners, The Foster Gallery also symbolizes the support the CAA strives to provide for artists in our community. Conveniently located in the Market Shops at Sandestin, The Foster Gallery is available as a venue for meetings, parties, social gatherings and other small events.” (https://www.culturalartsalliance.com/local-arts/foster-gallery/) The Foster Gallery is located beside Ben & Jerry’s in the Market Shops, at 9375 Emerald Coast Parkway, Miramar Beach, FL 32550.
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.
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.
Considering all of the exposure opportunities today, no artist should be “unknown”. With a little footwork and by using my few computer skills, I have solidified my presence as an artist, both in my community and also elsewhere.
First, I try to do my part to support the arts. I volunteer as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, serving on the A+Art Committee whose mission is to exhibit member artists work in the community. That, plus my attendance at the local art network meetings, and now serving as Coordinator for the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, have put me in touch with many other artists and art opportunities. And I share literally everything on Facebook. My friends tell me I should be on Instagram too, but for now, I am limiting my time budgeted for social media.
Being involved in public activities gives me opportunity to have my work seen.
It all started when I suddenly found I had a lot more free time after my pool service business growth slowed during the drop in the economy in 2007. I returned to my practice of figure drawing in 2009. In late 2012, I decided I wanted to pursue my art more seriously and I hired a coach, SaraMae Dalferes, for 10 twice-a-month sessions to help me make some changes in my thinking which was very effective in propelling me into action. One change was so simple as putting intended activities on a calendar and making them a priority — it’s amazing how that simple action and a little resolve opened the doors! In 2013, after about 8 years of receiving the weekly notifications, and 8 years of having intended to do this, “someday”, I finally began painting with the local group of plein air painters. My three-year plan was to regain my skills with color-mixing and brushwork in oils, 30 years mostly dormant. Way back then, my medium was watercolor. I dug out my college-era oil paints, identified the ones that were still viable, and started putting together my plein air backpack. The next week I started painting!
While I was practicing figure drawing, in 2010 I started blogging about my work. I have no idea how many people actually read what I write — I don’t study the analytics — because the writing itself is what benefits me as an artist, helping me to realize and absorb what I am doing and how my work and my spirit are growing.
I also exhibit whenever possible at our local arts organization’s events. I filled one of the Summertime Tour of Homes houses with plein air works in June of this year for the Cultural Arts Alliance fundraiser. Also one of my paintings was juried into CAA/A+Art’s Top of the Class Show in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and one of my submissions was selected for Celebrate the Masters in DeFuniak Springs, FL. I also showed two pieces in the annual members’ show for Artists of Apalachicola Area, and I showed two in the member’s exhibit at CAA’s Artsquest Art and Music Festival in the spring. This fall I will be showing 8 or 10 pieces in the Destin Festival of the Arts (Mattie Kelly Art Festival) with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, and two in A+Art’s One Size Fits All. I also participated in the Quickdraw timed paint-out at “The Forgotten Coast En Plein Air”, with the good fortune of selling the piece I painted, on the spot!
I have been attending the Florida Chautauqua Assembly Plein Air Paint-Out for the past couple of years, and have been asked to instruct a plein air painting workshop at next year’s event. This will launch me on the next step in my career, sharing what I have learned and helping others to enjoy plein air painting!
Also there are the donations to fundraisers, which benefit organizations I wish to support.
It takes some effort, but it has served me well. It’s one thing to be an artist, but it’s another to be recognized, and I am grateful to those individuals and organizations along the way who encourage, support, and provide opportunity. Most especially, I am grateful to the patrons who appreciate and purchase my art! Sales not only validate my efforts; they also pay for the art supplies! After all, a lot of paint goes onto a lot of canvases before one catches the eye of a buyer!
At left is “Jackson Pollock at the Beach”, which was accepted into A+Art’s upcoming show, “Celebrate the Masters”, an exhibit of artwork derivative of and inspired by a recognized master. I also painted and submitted for the same show, “Mark Rothko at the Beach”, at right, but it was was rejected. Making lemonade out of lemons, since I really love the colors and the idea, I am hanging it where I get to see it every day, in the hallway of my businesses, 331 Pool & Beach Supply and Pool Pal.
You cannot draw and paint frequently and with intensity, without it changing how you know yourself. And with knowing yourself, comes self-acceptance, forgiveness, and eventually, compassion for others. My revelation this past week was that I am less certain that I see the whole picture. I say that with regard to my art, but also with regard to life situations.
I prove it to myself every time I pick up a pencil or a paintbrush. But this past week it was just as clear and obvious in my management of certain sticky business situations. I found I easily was able to let go of a lost cause, when I realized the customer was locked into his perception of the situation and couldn’t see the bigger picture. Ordinarily I would have struggled a good bit providing more information, but in this case, I knew I wasn’t going to change his mind, so I was able to calmly release him to his certainty that my crew was doing a bad job. And in the second situation, the first conclusion of someone having made a bad mistake evolved into someone having nearly hurt themselves badly in making that mistake, and finally to the conclusion that no one made a mistake — the situation was caused by an electrical problem and not humanly caused at all. So by not seizing on the first apparent explanation, and continuing to keep my mind open and not alienate the variously involved people in the process, I eventually was able to reach the truth. I see this as a direct metaphor for how I have to approach my drawing and my painting. I make huge mistakes when I go with my first impression, and then if I am patient with myself and with the process, I can come closer to the truth.
Art does not come out of the void. At a minimum, it interprets experience and renders a modicum of the artist’s truth, and at its best, it takes the artist’s inner and outer experience, undergoes experiments in alchemy in the boiler room of the artist’s soul, and then spawns something seemingly completely original. Yet to the artist, it merely is another step in the process of expressing herself or himself. Most of the artists I know are amazingly humble in that regard. They see their work as an experience, a process; while those viewing the final piece, the artwork, see the magical release.
By mingling with other artists, seeing their work, talking with them, listening to their excitement, their struggles, observing their unbelievable courage and their ability to withstand misunderstanding and rejection along with acceptance and recognition, I see mirrors of myself, and my creative spirit is magnified.
Facebook has been a tremendous boon for me, creatively. Through this phenomenon of social media, I have been able to see the work of my artist-friends and acquaintances, as well as that of other professional artists through the various groups I belong to, and then there are the very giving spirits who appreciate good art so much they share a veritable museum of found art on their Facebook pages, people like my friend the amazing Susan Lucas, who shares a wealth of creativity by others.
I volunteer for one such community, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA). I serve on the A+Art Committee, whose mission is to showcase the work of CAA member artists. I had the privilege of being the show coordinator for Creative Textures, a current exhibit of the work of 11 artists known for the textural quality of the work, featuring the sculpted acrylics of Justin Gaffrey, colorful weavings by Margaret Rogers, art quilts and stitchery by Mary Zahner and Becky Brodersen, bold ceramic masks by Didon Comer, dyed silks and beaded fabric by Gabrielle Bullard, the haunting art dolls of Ann Welch, expressive tile work by Sherry McCall, exquisite glass and shell collages by Mary Hong (South Walton Artist of the Year 2014), wearable beadweaving by Emilie Pritchard, and unique art basketry by Carol Dickson.
Last month my own work was selected for the promotional materials for another one of our shows, Express Yourself, used on the posters, the program, and the custom wine labels. Bottles of the show label were auctioned. Photos are on the A+Art Facebook page, January 20 and 21, 2015. I’ve posted a few below. I believe Melissa Mercer Brown, 2014 Chair of A+Art, and Suzanne LeLoup-West, Express Yourself show coordinator, shot most of the photos, if not all. Music and song, poetry, theater, dance, all of the arts enrich the soul, and for artists, provide further inspiration, motivation, and a “refilling of the well”. Electronically we have the ability to bring all things “culture” into our living spaces and our studios. But of course there is nothing quite like mingling in person, in the actual energy of creative people, attending events, or even just getting together in small groups or one-on-one. We seem to energize from our contact with each other. There is so much value in community.
Recently I’ve been watching my good friend Leslie Kolovich develop Leslie Kolovich Live, her own internet radio/tv broadcast featuring “music, art, the environment, and purposeful living”, and especially observing her interaction with the musicians, and I see the very same creative energy exchange I’ve been writing about here. Likewise with my friend Melanie Cissone, organizing life drawing sessions for fellow figure-drawing artists, intent on improving her own skill and expression, but benefitting other artists at the same time. Community with other artists provides support and opportunity, infinitely energizing. Leslie comes to my art studio every week or so, a community I don’t invite into my personal creative space unless the energy is very, very simpatico, which it is, with her. This week I finished the painting I posted in my last blog, while Leslie produced an amazing pastel of an eagle, inspired by a pair of nesting bald eagles we saw when our paddle-group paddled the bay near my house last weekend (Leslie’s painting at right).
Two of my 8×10 plein air oil paintings been selected to be in “Healing with Art”, an exhibit sponsored by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County in partnership with Sacred Heart Hospital’s Arts in Medicine program. The exhibit will be in the atrium of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Santa Rosa Beach. The beauty of art and the process of creating it can be a healing experience. The show, curated by CAA’s A+Art Committee, runs from September 19, 2014, through January 6, 2015, with an opening reception on Friday, Sept 26, 2014, 5-7 pm in the atrium lobby at Sacred Heart Hospital. “Healing With Art” is coordinated by Melody Bogle, and the venue coordinator is Sherry Londe. Sacred Heart Hospital is located at the corner of Mack Bayou road and US 98, at 7800 US Hwy 98 West, Miramar Beach, FL 32550. Y’all come! 🙂
I am pleased to report that both of the paintings I entered in the A+Art 2014 Top of the Class Juried Show were accepted. It is a beautiful show of only 37 works, juried from 85 entries. The juror and judge was Brian Jekel, an instructor at Pensacola Christian College. It is an honor to be showing alongside the works of Susan Lucas, Charlotte Arnold, Melody Bogle, Heather Clements, Donnelle Clark, Lynn Wilson, Ann Welch, and Theresia McInnis, the award winners and honorable mentions, and beside the many other talented artists whose work was accepted, all members of the Local Arts Agency, Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. McInnis won Best in Show with ‘Bromeliads Gone Wild’, winning the $500 Trustmark Bank Award and a solo show of her own in 2015. Lucas won the Livingston Financial Planning $250 Award of Merit, Clements won the Watercolor UPS Store $250 Award of Merit, and Arnold won the Hidden Lantern Bookstore $250 Award of Merit. The show will be exhibited at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, until May 30, 2014. Hours are M-F, 9:00 to 4:00.