This week, January 24-27, 2019, the city of DeFuniak Springs in Northwest Florida will again host the Florida Chautauqua Assembly, a 4-day educational program which this year is themed “A Journey Into Main Street America”. Displays and exhibits will surround the the nearly circular spring-fed lake in the center of town, and presentations will be given at local churches and at Northwest Florida State College Chautauqua Center. I am a member of the volunteer faculty, tasked with giving a presentation on the subject of plein air painting.
Titled An Affair with Plein Air – Painting from the Outside In, my session description states “the practice of painting scenes from life, outdoors, is the biggest art movement in history, and it is happening now! Accomplished artists find that painting outdoors, in the changing light and under changing weather conditions, rapidly improves their perception and artistic decision-making, and this carries over to their studio-practice. Beginners and non-artists find increased levels of present-moment-awareness, satisfaction and serenity akin to the benefits of meditation.
January 11 – March 11, 2016: Solo exhibition, Panama City Beach, FL. Beach Art Group is presenting an exhibition of oil paintings by Joan Vienot, winner of People’s Choice Best in Show at the 2015 Local Color Plein Air Festival paint-out. The exhibit will be displayed at Palms Conference Center in Panama City Beach from January 11 to March 11, 2016. Meet the artist at the reception, February 7, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Call Helen Ballance at (850) 541-3867 for other viewing times. http://www.beachartgroup.com/exhibitions–events.html
January 29-30, 2016: Florida Chautauqua Assembly Plein Air Painting Workshop, Joan Vienot, Instructor. This workshop will provide new insight to accomplished painters, and courage for the beginner, with focus on simplification of subject matter, using value and intensity to create believable composition, and enhancement of color through temperature relationship. Joan will instruct in oil painting but all media are welcome. An optional half-day pre-workshop, January 28, 2016, will help the painter decide how to choose a subject to paint en plein air, observing the changing light and shadow, practicing “thumbnail” sketching, and planning interesting compositions. http://www.florida-chautauqua-center.org/assembly_2016/art_program_2016; Supply list at https://www.dropbox.com/s/vqk9u2fuzxe8n38/Workshop%20Description.pdf?dl=0. Joan also will be displaying a few select paintings in the Chautauqua Art Show. 1/31/16 addendum: 10 plein air painters enjoyed 2 beautiful sunny days of instruction! Click here for a photo of her demonstrating.
February 1-29, 2016: Joan will be the Freeport Art League Artist of the Month, displaying paintings at Freeport City Hall during the month of February, at 112 FL Hwy 20, Freeport, FL 32433. https://www.facebook.com/FreeportArtLeague/
I hope you can spend some time at one or more of these events! There’s nothing like actually seeing the art in person. I try to take good photos of my work for this website, but a camera cannot ever completely capture the intensities and true color relationships the way that the human eye can. I look forward to seeing you! ~ Joan Vienot
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.
Every year in January the Lakeyard in the city of DeFuniak Springs is the site of the Florida Chautauqua Assembly, a festival offering educational exhibits relating to the selected theme for that year. Typically it also includes exhibits of times gone by, including Civil War re-enactments complete with cannon-shooting. Recently it also has welcomed plein air painters. A few other brave souls and I painted there last year in the 34º weather, brrr! I was very happy to be painting in my shirtsleeves this year.
I wandered the grounds for a while before deciding to paint in front of the frontiersmen camp. Initially thinking I would paint the whole scene, I instead decided to greatly simplify the challenge by painting only the gourds hanging from a tripod of branches. I was amused by a baby Nubian goat bouncing around the encampment, and wondered if I could paint him, but he didn’t ever sit still long enough to get a good drawing done.
So the next morning I painted just the goat’s head after watching him some more and looking at some photos on my iPhone that I had shot the previous day. A friend of mine asked for the painting as soon as she saw it.
My final painting that morning was of the encampment itself. The family shared with me their meal of eggs and potatoes and meat flavored with a little gospel. When I started painting, I had to move fast because the festival was about to close down. So I generalized a good bit, letting the colored shapes suggest form rather than distinctly defining it.
It was cold! The high last Friday was 38°! That’s cold for Northwest Florida! That’s cold for outdoor painting! I had made plans to paint at the Florida Chautauqua Assembly with other plein air painters. I was prepared for the cold, dressed in my quilted snowsuit overalls and two jackets, a fleece headband visor, and cloth gloves under my latex painting gloves. And I wore wool socks inside my beach Crocs. I looked like someone from the Arctic North, but I was toasty while I painted on the shore of Lake DeFuniak last Friday morning. But later in the afternoon, the chill set in, and I was pleasantly surprised when a dear friend, Eda Busby, brought me hot tea and a blanket and fingerless gloves, which gave me more dexterity. I gave her the painting I had just completed. Saturday was almost the same, but Sunday was a warmer, and I actually was in shirt-sleeves for a little while, painting the restored DeFuniak train depot and railroad tracks.
It was my first time attending the Chautauqua Festival, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I found the well-organized art exhibit on the second floor of the “Hall of Brotherhood”, also known as the Chautauqua Building, and I met some of the friendly and talented artists of the northern part of Walton County. They allowed me to bring in my wet oil paintings as I completed them. We also displayed completed works. Three other people painted plein air over the weekend. Several of the artists opted to paint indoors, in the gallery.
The festival itself had a number of historical exhibits and people dressed in period costume, with Civil War re-enactments accompanied by some unsettling firing of guns and cannons that made me jump and the geese honk. My favorite exhibit demonstrated a small part of the culture of the Muskogee Creek people, where a woman named Debbie Bush showed me her family’s fabric pattern on her skirt, and talked to me about herbs used in healing and she gave me a sharp piece of flint to carry in my pocket for personal protection. Another exhibit featured carved and assembled crafts and toys. i was fascinated with an assemblage of wooden “cards” strung together in a way that they unfolded in a strand and then each flipped over successively into a strand facing the other direction when the top card was flipped. The demonstrator called it “Jacob’s Ladder” — Click here for a 30-second video of the demonstration.
I also tasted my first (and last) Funnel Cake, paying about $5 for a dinner-plate-sized dollop of batter fried into bread and smothered with powdered sugar. I don’t think there was one redeeming quality — I managed to force down my 1/6 slice, and left the rest on the counter for my fellow artists to enjoy. I came back a couple hours later and noticed it was gone, much to my relief.
Friday evening was the opening of our A+Art exhibit of plein air paintings, “Outdoor Magic”. I showed 3 pieces I have previously posted (click picture for gallery view):
Below are a few pictures from the festival:
One of the historical homes on the Circle, DeFuniak Springs, Florida
Frozen fountain, painting plein air in 38°
Debbie Bush, Muskogee Creek cultural display
Eda Busby brought me hot tea!
Lest I leave you completely disillusioned with the temperatures in Florida in January, here’s a warm studio painting inspired by the lakeside grasses in Grayton Beach State Park!