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Plein Air to Colorado and Back

Photograph of the moon setting over Buffalo Mountain, in Silverthorne, CO, with the alpenglow preceding the sunrise
Photograph, moon setting over Buffalo Mountain in Silverthorne, CO, in the alpenglow of the sunrise

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that this year I have the intention of attending as many workshops as I can afford, to learn as much as I can from artists whose work I admire.  At the very least, if i am traveling anywhere, I am justifying it by taking my paints.

Oil painting of the view from Four Amigos at Silverthorne, Colorado

So last month when I traveled to Colorado for my Dad’s 94th birthday and then to the mountains to play in the snow with my two sisters and their families, I took my Guerrilla Painter’s Box, with every intention of painting every day.  I had forgotten that where there is snow, then it probably will be snowing!  So the light was too dim for inspired painting, and the weather suitable only for playing in the snow, until the last day I was there, when the sun finally came out.  I stepped out onto the front balcony and caught the view of the mountains across the way.  I left that little 5 x 7 painting there with my sister as a small thank you for the adventures.

Oil painting of a snowy Colorado mountain sceneI took a lot of photos, thinking I would paint more snow scenes later, but life has been hectic since I returned, so I only managed one, at left.

Yesterday I again painted with th Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters group in my home area in Florida.  We met at Baytowne in Sandestin, FL, and I painted the brightly colored shops reflecting into the pond.  It was chilly, and the light was low, with rain predicted, but the lake was flat and the reflections just a bit choppy.  To brighten my colors, I choose a canvas I had under painted orange, and I allowed some of the orange to show through my colors, and I scratched off some of the paint in places where I wanted lines, so the lines shine a bright orange.

Oil painting of the shops at Baytowne in sandestin, FL, reflected in the lakWe met near the fountain for our critique.  Another artist had the misfortune of dropping his painting and the edge of it sliced a diagonal scrape across the face of my painting, so I had some repairing to do afterwards. I am happy to report that the painting is no worse for the wear.  sometimes these sorts of things happen when you are painting outdoors — it’s all just part of the experience, where things are never entirely under control.

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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 www.supradioshow.com.  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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Winter Solstice, Deja Vu, Beginning Again

2013-1220 Labyrinth

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the day in the northern hemisphere when daylight is shortest, exactly one full year after the ancient Mayan calendar rolled over and began a new cycle.  2013 has been a new beginning for me, a year when I have manifested my decision to start plein air painting, and to become a full-time artist at least two days a week by the end of the year.  I cannot say that my two-days-a-week of being a full-time artist are 48 hours in a row, but rather, a few hours here and a few hours there over the course of the week, but most certainly taking up at least 16 “work time” hours.  Not all of it is actually the production of artworks;  some of it is framing and presentation, of course blogging, Facebook networking and looking at other artists’ works and art news, studying, taking a workshop, supporting the arts by attending openings and events locally, and giving art instruction.  Another significant part is the nourishment of my spirit, which I have come to realize is closely tied to my life as an artist, and must be factored in as a necessary investment of my time.  As I become aware of various energies and energetic systems, I find my senses heightened, and my creative energy has become more of a compulsion, so that I don’t just WANT to create, I MUST create.  My joy has multiplied exponentially.

I celebrated the Winter Solstice yesterday with a group of dear friends who share a commonality of spirit.  First we had breakfast at my house – cantaloupe, pineapple,cheese, croissants, and coffee and hot tea – with stimulating conversation punctuated by a visit from a young man who said his name was Ryan, who seemed to appreciate our conversation but wouldn’t have anything to eat.  He did say it was refreshing to be treated nicely.  He gave us some literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  His visit was limited by our plans to meet another dear friend at a labyrinth nearby, our intention to be walking it at the exact moment of Solstice, which was 11:11 AM Central Standard Time.  The labyrinth is on private property in a gated community, and we had received permission to use it.

After Leslie read us an invocation to set Sacred Space, Caroling began her walk, and after a respectful distance each of us followed — Maddie, Mary, Eda, Leslie, and myself.  This labyrinth meanders in a complex, continuous path from the outside to the center, with 11 circuits through four quadrants of a perfect circle.  You eventually end up in the middle, and then make your way back out again.  Your mental state is your own — some ponder the great questions of the universe, some simply commune with nature.   You can walk as fast or as slowly as you want, and if you have a question in your mind, by the time you are done with your walk, you probably have some clarity, or at the very least, peace.  We walked as individuals, as slowly or as fast as we wanted, sometimes overtaking each other, sometimes completely stopping for a moment or two.  Sometimes we passed by each other on adjacent paths, or even met each other on the same path, always acknowledging and honoring each other, perhaps with a nod, perhaps with a bow, and occasionally exchanging a sweet hug, mostly in silence.

My thoughts in the labyrinth often returned to review the changes in my life over the past year, especially spiritually and artistically, growth in so many ways, strengthening of old relationships and forging of new ones, some of it hesitant, some of it bold.  Eileen, Cheri, Donnelle, Felicia, Michael, Colleen, Beckie, Melissa, Susan, Miffie, Ginny, Jennifer, Bob, Steve, Saramae, Sean, Anne, Ed, Weezie, Sandra, another Mary, Pat, and so, so many more, a whole crowd of people, from the past too — were your ears burning?  And as I walked the winding path, it occurred to me that this path was familiar, hadn’t I been here before?  But of course I had — the path right next to me, where I had just been, had the same scenery, but it was a different path, and I was on another, sometimes going the same direction, sometimes the opposite direction, sometimes in light, sometimes in shadow, a metaphor for my life, a metaphor for my year.  My mind would wander, and then return to the present moment with the birds flitting and chirping in the surrounding forest, and my friends playing and pondering on their walks nearby, and I would have that odd feeling of deja vu and realize I was still here, on yet another circuit of the labyrinth, another circuit of my life, beginning another year of growth and expansion.

My goals for this new year are simple:  to continue on my present course, and to take as many workshops as I can afford, from plein air artists whose work I admire.  So far I already have signed up for a workshop with Laurel Daniel and one with Morgan Samuel Price and I confess, I am more than a little excited about this.  It’s going to be a fantastic year!  So to all, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Joyous Kwanzaa, Magical Solstice, and Happy Holidays!  And also to all, Happy New Year!

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The above photo of my friends in the labyrinth, was altered using a photo app called “My Sketch”.  The plein air paintings below were completed in mid-November, the first two, and the other two this past week, in mid-December.

Oil painting of a creek running into Mack Bayou, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida Oil painting, impression of a creek running into Mack Bayou, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
 2013-1218 Grayton Beach State Park Dune Scrub

Oil painting of the dunes at Grayton Beach State Park, in the winter
Want to own Winter Dunes? Click the painting for purchase information.
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Photography: Good Morning!

Photo of the dock at the boat launch at Point Washington, FL, by Joan Vienot

Photo of the dock at the boat launch at Point Washington, FL, by Joan Vienot

Many mornings before I go to work, I will see a view that begs to be captured, the image that starts my day.  I post these morning photos on Facebook, with perhaps a wistful comment about my day-job cutting short my enjoyment of the scene.  This was the image I shot yesterday, the dock at the public boat launch in my village, Point Washington, Florida.  The view looks out over Tucker Bayou extending into the eastern Choctawhatchee Bay, in Northwest Florida.  It is one of my favorite areas to canoe and stand-up paddle.

Usually when I post to my personal page in Facebook, I set the post-privacy to friends only, but when I uploaded this image yesterday, I accidentally uploaded on the public setting, and it spread like wildfire.  Ordinarily I have a few “likes” and maybe one or two instances where people have shared my image onto their own page.  This photo had been shared 119 times in one day.

This view is iconic for the area. certainly, but there was a quality to the light, a certain late-summer gold on the grass, that I could see between the trees all the way from my house a good ways up the bayou.  The attraction was such that I took only a few seconds to brush my teeth before rushing out the door to capture it, afraid it would change before I could travel the long mile to get there.  I took a couple of shots with my good camera, and then I shot this one with my iPhone 4S for immediate upload.  Some of my friends on social media have told me they enjoy my morning shots, and it is gratifying to hear their comments.  Sharing an experience or a perception through an image makes it more meaningful to me.  But the number of “shares” on social media has surprised me, and I am pleased that so many people appreciated this simple scene.  Thankfully, I had remembered to watermark it with my website, which if the image is not altered on purpose, allows me to retain a connection as it travels the web.

My website is being updated.  When I saw my image starting to go viral, I called my webmaster to ask him to put Facebook “share” buttons on my site so the path would be circular, from the Facebook image on my personal page, to my website, and then back to my Facebook art page.  He responded immediately — kudos to Brian at www.andersonsolutions.com

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Plein Air: Battling With Nature

Oil painting of Tucker Bayou Through the Trees at Eden Gardens State Park

Every geographic area has its plagues, I suppose.  Here in Northwest Florida, our plagues are yellow flies from mid-May through the middle or end of June, and in late summer or fall, dog flies.  I react badly to yellow fly bites, getting a huge hive within minutes.  If I put a good anti-inflammatory cream on the bite right away, I will avert a reaction.  My plein air painting backpack is stocked with a strong repellent, and the best anti-inflammatory salve I can find.  I used both today.

We painted at Eden Gardens State Park, which is just a hop and a skip from my home.  I cajoled my dear friend, Lori Ceier, into coming out and painting with us.  Lori is the producer of my favorite website for local activities, www.waltonoutdoors.com.  Lori claims not to be an artist but I think what she really means is that up ’til now, she has preferred photography to painting.

Oil painting of Tucker Bayou Through the Trees at Eden Gardens State Park

Having recently completed my training as a Reiki Master, and thoroughly convinced of the Law of Attraction, nevertheless, during yellow fly season, I still cover most of my skin with clothing and put repellent on what’s left.  I fared pretty well, until the last half hour when the frustrated flies were fairly spitting their venom.  We all stopped painting soon then, and went to the screened pavilion for our critique.  Lori took a series of Photos showing the progression of my painting, and posted them on her Facebook page for WaltonOutdoors.com.

Plein air critique is interesting.  We each put our paintings up in a row and everyone ooo’s and ahhh’s and then each artist talks about their piece, the challenges they faced, what their intentions were, etc., and then the group might offer a suggestion for this effect or for that one.  If an artist has had enough of that fun, he or she might end the suggestions by saying thank you , y’all have given me a lot of ideas, and then we move on to the next piece.  Generally though, these are what I would call “soft” critiques, in that all of the artists are so encouraging — no one ever tells you that maybe you should take up sculpture or some other art form.

I felt so brave when I was painting, daringly putting a muted purple in the trees in the background, and a bright purple in the shadows in the foreground, and painting the silhouette of the foreground tree leaves a deep red-violet.  But when I look at the painting from any distance, the purples just become dark values, not daring at all!  My intention was to paint the background trees and grasses with brighter colors and more detail, and the foreground with broader brush strokes and less detail.  I think everything turned out more or less as I had hoped, except for the color of the water.  When I put the rich red-violet trees and shadow patterns in the foreground, the water of the bayou in the middle-ground, which I had painted a light pinkish blue, became more muted by comparison, almost a light gray.

In general, I’m pleased with the overall impression of looking out at the bayou through very large trees.  The barely visible picnic tables show the scale of the trees.

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

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Plein Air Painting in the Rain

Oil Painting of Boats in a Boatyard, Freeport, FL

Oil Painting of Boats in a Boatyard, Freeport, FL

It rained for the plein air group’s outing yesterday, deterring the less intrepid (ha!) painters. Three of us were silly enough to go anyway.  I went just to see if I could paint in the rain.  I have no idea why the other two artists persisted.  It seems like anyone with any experience would have stayed home to paint in the comfort of their studio or perhaps just gone to the movies.

I parked my pickup where I could sit under the hatchback, and set up for the morning. My shelter was less than perfect, with drips coming through the seam of the hatch on either side of me.  I caught one steady drip in an extra paint-thinner bowl, emptying it frequently, and I put a towel under the other drip.

The subject?  My nemesis, more boats!  The agreed upon location (nobody asked me) was Fisherman’s Boatyard, in Freeport, Florida.  Shapes, I told myself, you are just painting shapes.  It doesn’t matter what the shapes are, it’s just shapes.  Except the shapes probably ought to look a little bit like boats.  The colors were dimmed by the cloudy skies, and the boat-shapes were sharp against the trees on the other side of the creek.

I painted for 2½ hours before the chill crept up from my freezing wet feet into all of my bones.  My painting was unfinished when I stopped, lacking the top of the tree line, the standards supporting the boats, and the catamaran’s mast wires.  So I took a few shots with my iPhone to help me remember what the scene looked like, to finish it in my studio.

The three of us met for a country lunch at the local restaurant.  It was a good 40 minutes and two cups of hot tea before I was warm again.

One of the other artists mentioned that she didn’t care for blogs, that she felt that people don’t have time to read a blog, and it would be a better use of an artist’s time to paint instead of blogging.  I considered her opinion, and realized that the primary reason I blog is because I want to preserve my own feelings and thoughts about the process.  If others enjoy it, fine, but as long as I offer the option to bypass the blog and go straight to my galleries, then hopefully I can please most everyone.

Below are a few photographs from this weekend’s jaunt in one of our coastal dune lake state parks, Camp Helen.  I faded and increased the contrast on the first three and I increased the saturation and the detail on the fourth one.  Click on photo for larger image.

Photograph of Grasses and Reflections in Water Photograph of Scrub Oaks Following Dune Line Photograph of Dune Grasses at Camp Helen State Park, Florida Photograph of Sunset at Camp Helen State Park, Florida

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

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Plein Air Painting Progress Report: Leaps and Bounds!

Oil Painting of Old Boat "Pompano", Nick's Restaurant, Basin Bayou, FLI am starting to see in color.  That may sound strange, but the fact is that most of the time in my normal everyday activity, I hardly pay attention to color.  When I was focusing on figure drawing, I occasionally used color, but for the most part I was focused on line, shape, and value, usually rendering the whole piece just using a black-white value scale. Now that I am painting again, I am noticing for example, when a white railing is picking up the blue of the sky, or how intense a green becomes when it is contrasted with red.  I am finding that much of what I think I am seeing as different tones of a color are actually the same color which looks different depending on what color is next to it.  I am particularly challenged by all the greens I see, when landscape painting.  If I try to mix an exact shade of green, it often seems muddy compared to what I actually see.  Who knew, that Einstein’s theory that everything is relative applies to painting as well as nuclear physics, that the better way to achieve a color is to find the color next to it which gives it the quality I want.  Resisting the temptation to launch into that as a metaphor for life, I’ll instead move on to my adventures in plein air painting over the past week.  Last week we painted at Nick’s Restaurant, and I bemoaned the fact that I know very little about boats.  The next day I decided to take another run at the featured boat, using my photo references, and came up with the piece at top right.  It was the little paprika-colored spots of rust washing out from the old nails in the hull, that gave the greens and turquoise the punch I wanted.  So I wafted a little of that color into the foreground grasses too.

Oil painting study, Bayou Grass, Point Washington, FLThis week is the largest of the spring-break tourist weeks in the beach resort communities of Panama City Beach, Seagrove Beach, and Destin, FL.  So when the announcement came that the plein air painters would be meeting at the docks again in Destin, I knew the drive would take all the fun out of the adventure, so I opted to paint from my dock in my back yard.  I had thought I would be painting my view of the creek leading into Tucker Bayou, but when I looked upstream, the color of the bayou grasses intrigued me.  My initial 6″ x 6″ study, left, did nothing for me by way of planning my painting, but rather served more like a singer doing la-la-La-LA-La-la-la scales to warm up her voice before performing.

I needed a warm-up!  The temperature was less than 40 and the wind was chilly.  But it was a clear spring day with bright light.  I roughed in the composition and then went to work on the trees at the edge of the Bayou.  The spring gold-greens of the new leaves contrasted with the rich, dark pines and the shadows underneath.  I resisted the impulse to paint the shadows a colorless dark value, which has the potential to suck the life out of a painting.  Instead I darkened my green shadows with a touch of the same deep red I used to tint the pink flowering trees in my distant neighbor’s yard.  I stuggled with the grasses, because the shiny highlights were picking up every color of the palette.  Uncertain whether I was just making a mudpie, I plowed onward through the painting, until I was satisfied I had achieved an approximate similarity to the colors I was seeing.  My two cats initially were scared by my unusual activity on the dock, but they grew braver throughout the 2 hours, wrapping their tails around my legs as I scratched some final textures and highlights into the grasses and the tree trunks.  Upon completion, I stood my painting up against a piling and stepped back from it only to have a bitter wind gust blow it onto its face, requiring repair where it had landed on an edge of a dock board.  Remembering the worm crawling across my finished painting two weeks ago, I decided that paintings are not really finished until restored from an inevitable mishap at the very end.

Oil Painting of Bayou Grass, Point Washington, FL

The day before yesterday I was excited to find a delivery frames on my package stand as I entered my driveway, so even though it was late, I spent the next couple of hours framing my earlier paintings done in November and December of last year, when I first resumed oil painting after a 30-year hiatus.  Looking at them, I realized that I am growing by leaps and bounds.  The rate of my improvement surprises me.  I thought I would progress more slowly, and even be tempted to give up, because oil painting so intimidated me, no doubt from my tortured efforts during and shortly after college.  I find I am enjoying the time limitation of plein air painting, which while still allowing for tortured effort, does not allow it to continue for very long, with only a two hour window before the light changes so much that further attempts at capturing an impression are not worthwhile.

I continue to play with my photography.  I am learning about photo-editing, taking a class in Photoshop Elements from Jackie Ward at Northwest Florida State College, South Walton Center.  She is teaching us what Photoshop can do.  It’s difficult for me to remember.  My poor brain may be overloaded, trying to run my business, my day-job, the one that pays the bills, while I try to learn more about photography and painting.  I still enjoy the easy editing that can be done with Snapseed App on my iPhone.  Yesterday I paddled my canoe on the Bayou with a dear friend, a fellow photographer.  You can’t take a bad picture at sunset!  Most of my editing of my iPhoneography consists of simply straightening the horizon line and perhaps a little cropping, but I had some fun dramatizing and saturating the photo below.

Photograph, Tucker Bayou, Point Washington, FL, Joan Vienot

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

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Opening the Floodgates

A good friend of mine is preparing to backpack the Appalachian Trial.  Last month, over the long weekend after Thanksgiving, I accompanied her on her “shakedown” trip where she tested a lot of her new gear and her cooking methodology.  We camped on her mountain property near Mount Pisgah, near Brevard, NC, Jane in her fancy Hennessey Hammock, and me in my REI quarter-dome tent.  Having backpacked through the Smokies and in New Hampshire, I know that much of any backpacking experience is consumed with ordinary survival — food, clothing, and shelter — and this trip was no exception, with nighttime temperatures in the low 20’s (F).  Jane cooked on a lightweight backpacker’s alcohol-fueled stove, and I had my minimalist pan support with dry Esbit fuel, to rehydrate and heat our dehydrated food and make tea.  But we weren’t that far away from town, so even though we were “roughing it”, our evening meals were accompanied by good wine.  Each evening we would go for another walk, as if our mountain trail hikes had not provided enough exercise for the day, and then we would talk in between handfuls of “gorp” for dessert (good old raisins and peanuts) before crawling into our sleeping bags for the night.

The mountain imagery was overwhelming.  Jane is a fine art photographer, so spending time with her doubled the opportunities for the mountain splendor to imprint on my soul.  If there is a simple purpose to producing one’s art or vision, it may simply be to point out the beauty/order/harmony we see and to share it with those who might not have noticed.  I learned a lot about the limitations and capabilities of my iPhone camera.

I came home with my head and heart overflowing with the mountain colors and shapes.  Having only recently begun my return to oil painting, I was surprised to find myself wide awake and compelled to paint at 4:00 the very next morning after we got back.  By compelled, I mean that there was no option not to paint — it felt like a dam would break if I didn’t get an image made.  This happened twice in that week following our adventure, forcing me to focus my sleepy eyes 2 hours earlier than my usual wake-up time.  I painted the 8×10″ canvas panel very quickly, finishing before showering and leaving to be on time for my day job.  Above are my paintings which of course contain the colors and memories of my experience more so than the photographic references below.

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

Photo reference

Photo reference

 

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Early Morning Light

 

Yesterday I went hiking shortly after sunrise with my friend Jane Burns, who is a fine art photographer.  The sun was rising between the foggy tree trunks, just above the brush, as we hiked the groomed trail through the state forest just north of Grayton Beach State Park.  Jane and I both pulled our cameras out of our packs, to capture the first light.  We continued to have jaw-dropping views at every turn of the trail.  It was the “golden hour” following sunrise, when shadows are long and the light is warm and diffused.  A light fog exaggerated the effect, rendering every scene an ethereal fairy-scape.  The first photo above was taken during those first minutes on the trail.
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The light changed quickly as the sun came up, and the fog began lifting.  Wonderful atmospheric  effects played over the landscape as the cooler, shaded areas maintained a misty quality, and open areas became more clear.  Normally I carry my bigger camera, but since we were going to hike 8 or 9 miles, I opted to bring only my iPhone 5S.  Halfway into the hike, Jane showed me the High Definition function, where the camera shoots two versions, one normal, and one HDR.  The higher quality is obvious on some even when viewed on the camera’s small screen.

As the morning progressed, the fall light became crisper, and the colors became more vibrant.  Dew remained in the shady areas, and in one section, a carpet of bejeweled, glittering moss underfoot.  Both Jane and I tried to photograph the shimmering drops on the moss, but the camera didn’t pick them up.  A tightly focused video would have been beautiful.

I stopped taking so many pictures after the first hour or so.  The light was still beautiful, the sky a crystal clear blue and the colors so typical of autumn.  I still felt like I was walking through a scenic calendar.  But I was so very spoiled by the wealth of imagery during that first hour, the golden hour, that I just enjoyed the views for the rest of the hike.

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

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Scenes of South Walton, 2012

A local group focused on environmental and growth issues in the mostly rural community where I live, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, is called South Walton Community Council.  Missioned especially with protection of our fabulously beautiful, pristine environment, relative to development and community growth issues, SWCC also puts on a Back-to-Nature Festival every fall.  Last year for the first time, Hidden Lantern Gallery partnered with SWCC to produce a juried art show called Scenes of South Walton, comprised of art inspire by the local natural setting.

Aster Reflected

I decided to enter a few of my photographs this year, and I was pleased to receive notice that my work had been accepted.  I usually shoot photography for fun, for Facebook, and because I love the process of capturing images.  If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that I also shoot for Leslie Kolovich of The Stand Up Paddle Radio Show, but working for her is so much fun I hardly call it work.

Being a visual artist, of course, line, shape, size, position, color, texture, and density, all of the elements of composition, and repetition, harmony, and unity, the principles of composition, factor into my artistic evaluation of any of my photographs.  Ultimately, though, my chief interest in my own photography, is the play of light over the forms.  I rarely do much with post-processing, primarily enjoying the act of shooting the photo much more than the infinite tweaking that can happen after the image is on the computer.

Tree Frog

To my pleasant surprise, one of my pieces was selected for Honorable Mention.  There were works by 12 other artists and photographers, all of whom I consider my superiors in craftsmanship, experience, and sheer expression.  But my pieces do have impact, and the piece I submitted that received the Honorable Mention, “Aster Reflected“, also has enough of an abstract element to be just a little confusing.  It is a photo of an aster hanging out over the creek, and perfectly reflected in the creek.  Actually, the reflection is a more distinct image of the flower than the actual flower, which is over-exposed.  The confusion comes from there being such a perfect reflection of the aster, stems, and leaves, in contrast to some pine straw and debris that is just floating on the surface without any reflection.  When you look at it, you have to stop to figure out why there isn’t a double image of everything, how there could be just a single image, unreflected, mixed in with all the double imagery of the reflections.

Water Lily

The juror, KC Williams, didn’t mention the composition when she talked about my photograph, but instead discussed how it clearly represented an image that could be found in South Walton.  She actually talked quite a bit about each piece she that she had chosen, and also about the superb craftsmanship and artistic expression of all of the works in the show, but when mine was announced, I was smiling too wide to be able to listen.

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

Juror KC Williams is Director of the Galleries at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, and she along with the Director of the South Walton Center of NWFSC, Julie Terrell, facilitate the exhibition of Cultural Arts Alliance members works through the A+Art Committee, on which I serve as co-chairman.