Before a Rain
Thanks so much for following and visiting this blog. I appreciate your interest, but I'm finding that I can't manage two blogs successfully. This blog isn't serving it's intended purpose, and I need to rethink it. Some of the articles may move to the other blog, but I'm not technically adept, so we'll see what happens. I may post studio work once a month or just delete, not sure yet.

So, if you'd like up-to-date information, please go go https://joannsanborn.blogspot.com, or visit the website at https://joannsanborn.com You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter on either one, or follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jsanborn

If I get it all figured out I may be back, or try to post studio work once a month. Not sure yet. I'll leave the articles for now. Again, thanks!


Color Considerations, Beach Walkers, Studio painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Beach Walkers

It's been a really busy time for me, and will continue to be throughout the month, but by May I'll be back on schedule and beginning my summer body of work. It's something I look forward to every year, the end of the busy, selling season, and down to some serious work! I have a couple of commissions to finish up, but then should have some time if you're needing a special painting. Just give me a call or email me and we'll talk about your needs.

I've been teaching recently, and talking about color always gets me excited! Color is everywhere today, more color than at any time in the past. Everyone enjoys color in their home, clothes, and in the objects they use every day. We relate colors to psychology, and most colors have both a negative and positive connotation. The way you use color in your painting can set the tone or mood, and provide harmony.

When you’re considering what colors to use, you may choose a traditional color harmony, such as compliments, triad, or analogous colors, or you may look outside the traditional harmonies as you look for ways to establish a relationship between the objects in your painting. Here are some considerations:

Color can lead you on a visual path
Repeated colors can provide a rhythm in the painting
Colors reflect on and off the objects around them
Either warm or cool colors should be dominant in the painting
Colors must support each other rather than clash
Look for a dominant, a secondary, and an accent in both color and value.

Happy Painting!


Plein Air Painting, Enjoying the Sun studio painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Enjoying the Sun

Enjoying the Sun is another in the elongated palm series I've been working on. I'm drawn to the way the palms inhabit there space. The intervals of space between them and the distance behind them continues to fascinate me. I'm sure that someday I'll wake up and not want to ever paint another palm but until them I'm excited every time I see a new arrangement!

It's Spring on Marco Island, and soon to follow in the rest of the country. I'm getting ready for a workshop at the Marco Island Center for the Arts the end of March. In preparation, I've been working on handouts, going over and revising some, and making some new ones.

Here are some highlights of my new Plein Air Handout.

Paints – ideally a limited palette
Easily portable, sturdy easel
Canvas or other support
Something to sit on if you need it
Hat, sunscreen, bug stuff
Water, to drink & clean brushes
Paper towels or rags
Trash bag - please take everything you bring with you when you leave

Painting Process
Don’t try to put it all in
Determine your focus
Do composition thumbnails to save painting time.
Decide horizon line – landscape or skyscape?
Decide canvas orientation - active (vertical) or passive (horizontal)

It’s a given that the light will change while you’re out there. Live with it!
Block in the main values simply and quickly.
Work all over canvas to ensure desired placement
Squint to establish your values – again and again!
Color basics in broad value swatches
Don't get tangled up in details too early.

Remember atmospheric progression
Grayer and cooler in distance!
Compare values and colors constantly.
Use strongest value changes and sharpest edges in center of interest.

Step away from the canvas frequently
To renew your acquaintance with the landscape
To refresh your eye
Looking back, you'll see areas that need attention

Once direction of light is set, don’t chase shadows!

Keep a sense of Place, but don’t hesitate to move landscape elements to improve composition.

Have fun, stay loose, and enjoy the view.


Acrylic mediums, Morning Promise Studio painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Morning Promise, finished

I've just shipped this new studio painting to a collector in Ohio who commissioned it for above her fireplace. Her room and walls were quite dark, so she wanted the piece to be fairly light in feel and in color. She's delighted, and says that her room is transformed with the presence of the painting. Just what I would hope one of my paintings would do for a room! I used a bit of glazing on the piece and wanted to write about acrylic mediums.

Acrylic mediums have many uses in painting with acrylic. , and I'm going to talk about a few of them. Just as with oil paint, acrylic artists often use mediums to help the paint flow, to add adhesion, and to extend the paint, or color, when necessary. Acrylic mediums act like a colorless paint. If you mix up a color and need just a bit more to finish up a section, you can add a little medium to extend. You can also economically extend the paint this way, but your paints will become more transparent as you add medium, so be sure to plan for that to happen.

Using too much water with acrylics can affect the adhesion qualities, to so ensure that your paint will remain attached to the support, add some acrylic medium as a binder whenever you get above 25-50% water. Acrylic medium is such a strong binder that it will act as a glue. Sometimes the medium will look opaque, particularly if you brush a lot, but it will eventually dry clear.

Another use of acrylic medium is as a glazing medium. It's perfect for washing a little color over the top of another, adding both depth and dimension. The blues will move parts of the landscape or skies back in space. and a glaze of yellow azo will bring alive a green foreground. You can also glaze an entire piece or part of one to bring discordant colors together.

Acrylic mediums come in a choice of matte, or gloss if you like a little shine. You can mix them if you’d like a little of each property.
Don't confuse mediums with additives, like texture. Mediums have binding and adhesive qualities that additives don't have!


Painting Morning Light, By Still Waters, studio painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

By Still Waters

Here's my new studio painting, By Still Waters. It's the first large painting I've done in a few weeks that isn't a commission, and I'll leave it for a day or two before doing a final check. The composition is a bit unusual, maybe too direct, and I may want to further define some directions for the eye. On the other hand, I like how it carries the eye up and around, so we'll see on a fresh look.

Different times of day require different lighting and color considerations. Here are some ideas for a painting you want to portray morning light. The colors are softer and more pastel, as the cooler purples and blues of the night sky still have an effect in shadow as the light comes up and brightens at the horizon. The morning sun is warm, so add a touch of yellow to the greens in light. Shadows can be laced with blue-greens to help portray the remaining coolness. Yellow Azo, or Lemon yellow are good yellows for morning, and can be toned down if too intense. Use a cooler yellow, like ochre or Naples in the distance and added to your greens as the foliage recedes.

The value of the shadows won’t be as dark as some other times of the day, so leave off some of the darkest darks. Remember that shadows are darkest near their source and lighten as they move away and are influenced by reflected light. Here the foliage is still in deep shadow. The tones will lighten as the sun climes higher in the sky.

Some mornings have a pinkish aspect. Portray it with a warm red with a touch of yellow, giving it a salmon glow. Near the distant horizon there may be both warm and cool tones in the sky. When the light is pink, the shadows will be warmed with reflected light taking on browner tones.


Painting Clouds, Morning Promise, studio painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Morning Promise
30x40 Sold

Morning Promise is a studio painting I've been working on over the last couple of weeks. The water reflections will be a little bit more defined, and the background brush will have a little more contrast before the finish.

This is a commission, and my client is coming on Monday to view, so I'll be finishing up this afternoon. I've got a second painting ready, too, something I often do for commissions. That way the client has a choice, and I have another nice painting for the shows.

While working, the clouds reminded me of a few years ago when I was teaching my first class and someone asked about painting clouds. We discussed them, I did a demo, but wasn't really prepared to "teach" them. My observations of clouds hadn't translated into intellectual knowledge in a way easy to pass on. Today I'm better prepared for cloud questions.

Clouds are part of almost every day here in South Florida. Observe them to determine their inherent character. There are several different kinds, and they each have their own particular characteristics. Sometimes there are several types in the sky at the same time. Here are a few basic hints for painting them.

1. Design your painting and determine where the horizon will be, and how much will be sky.
2. Determine the wind direction, usually from particular quarter of the sky.
3. Start with a grayed-down color darker than you need. Build the volume first.
4. Paint Quickly. Once your clouds are blocked in, don’t worry that the shapes in the sky change.
5. Clouds are made of water, so they will reflect what’s around and below them—the blue sky, the warm earth.
6. Use a mix of warm colors where the sun hits and cooler colors on the underside and in shadow.
7. Observe the density. Dense clouds reflect more light, edges are sometimes transparent.
8. Use atmospheric regression for clouds, too.
9. Overhead clouds are lighter and larger than those further away.
10. Clouds are warmest just above the horizon.

If you're observant, I'll bet you can add a few of your own!


Marco Island Wet Paint, Empty Easel

I chose this view for my Marco Island Wet Paint site yesterday. The Marco Island Yacht Club Chickee Hut was a perfect location, with shade and nearby facilities, and the cast shadows on the small beach were intriguing. There was a gentle breeze, no one around, and the sun slowly warmed the scene. More of the beautiful palms that grace the bridge entrance demanded attention, too. Many people stopped by to chat, showing that this event is growing in interest. Many of them were artists, but just as many were unaffiliated residents or visitors.

Early in the morning a manatee swam by, and when there was no one around a flock of sandpipers flew in to sit in the sunshine for a few minutes. The light changed throughout the day, and I'll do another painting or two from photos taken. It was a delightful day painting out.

The Viewing and Auction Event, held at sunset at the Hideaway Beach Club was lovely. The "masterpiece" hors d'oerves were delicious, there were more people than last year, and the lighting on the paintings was much better. There were 27 paintings in addition to a silent auction, and every one of them got a bid or two. Since the committee shares half the profits with the artist, most did OK for a single day's work, some did terrific, and others were disappointed.

To the Committee: You have presented a credible, successful event, but you must get more, many more people to attend in the future to make this a true community event. The price of $50 covers your cost, but also eliminates many residents who would love to attend at a lower price. 120 people is not enough to auction 27 paintings. Do the math. There are other issues that may best be discussed in an after-action debriefing. Will there be one?

To the Artists: Great body of work for a one day event! Face it, our very best paintings are rarely done in one day. We spend much of the day talking with the people who come by, and this is time well spent for both our own art and the event. The light changes quickly and sometime unpredictably, and some of you are not used to painting outside. Some of you started ahead, didn't do the painting in one day, and probably got a higher price for your work. Is that fair? What is fair? What will people on Marco pay for? Why did some work go for such a high price, while some other works with better color or composition go for so little? Did you get your collectors to come out and bid? All questions we'll hash over at art events in the next month. If you didn't do well, think of this. The Marco Community is getting to know you and your work. That's good.

Many thanks to the wonderful young couple who bought my painting. I loved painting it and hope it will bring you joy.

Today is a really big day for me. I'm excited because Empty Easel is publishing an article I submitted. If you're not familiar with Empty Easel, take a look. The site is filled with information for and about artists. I read this site daily, thoroughly enjoy, and am still investigating the archives. My article today is about critique, based on a handout I've developed over the years from a variety of sources to help in my workshops. There's always more we can do to make our art better, and looking at it with a critical eye can help!


Light and Atmospheric Perspective in the Florida Landscape, painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

This painting was commissioned to go along side another, similar painting as part of the paintings for the new First Third Bank. It took more time than I had hoped, and I had to fight to made it similar to it's companion piece and yet varied enough for interest. I hope both pieces will look terrific in their new location.
Light and Atmospheric progression were very much on my mind, and I thought you might like to learn more about them. In the landscape, if you paint what you see, you may not get what you want! This is because it’s not easy to translate the huge expanse of open land you see onto a small canvas ground. Using techniques involving the progression of light and the properties of the atmosphere can help translate the space and volume of the landscape on a small canvas in a way that reflects reality.

Creating atmospheric space in a painting means to understand how light affects the landscape. When working outside, the light source is always natural light. Light changes as the sun moves through the sky, and the colors you choose to use in your captured moment should also change to reflect this movement.

Objects near the sun, provider of light in the natural landscape, are warmer than those farther away from the sun. The colors used to portray the sky, clouds, and landscape nearest to the sun should be warmer colors than those used to portray the sky, clouds, and landscape furthest away from the sun.

In addition, because there is moisture in the atmosphere which blocks some of the light, the landscape colors cool and gray as they recede into the distance. Objects near to the viewer, in the foreground of the landscape will be sharper and brighter than objects further back in the space of the canvas.

A dark mass in the distance will become softer and lighter than one up close, and become lighter still where it touches the sky. Clouds will be brighter and more defined close to the sun. Most of the reds and yellow disappear from the distant land masses as they recede, leaving the landscape blue and purple in the distance. Details of near flowers or objects soften or are lost in the distant view.

Value is also an important consideration. Areas in sunlight are almost always above middle gray in value, and areas in shadow are almost always below middle gray in value. Values, too, are muted as they recede from the light. Don’t forget the mass values, either, where the upright planes are always darker then the horizontal plane because the light source is the sky.

In south Florida the light is most often very warm, or yellow, but there will be days that are cooler and bluer. Overcast days can be either warm or cool depending on the underlying heat in the sky. Sometimes at sunset or sunrise pink or yellow will pervade the sky and infuse the landscape with colored light. These are magic moments to be enjoyed and celebrated in paint!

Art rules will be rules, meant to be tested and sometimes broken. First you must know them, and make a conscious decision to go your own way. If it’s not working out, returning to the “rules” will often help get your painting back on track! Get out there and observe, again and again, and you will not be disappointed!


Series of Paintings, So Near and Yet so Far studio painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

So Near and Yet so Far
This painting, finished just before Christmas has gone to a very nice home. It's a little more painterly than some of my work, and I like the effect of the light infusing the landscape. This spot would work as a Monet-type pond, since the sky and water always show the passage of light and time in an exciting way. There's precedence in art for painting a scene over and over again in different natural conditions. Returning to beloved places and painting them again, allows an artist to find in them renewed and deepened interest each time.
It's not that an artist has run out of ideas when they decided to paint a series, but that they have chosen to explore a subject more fully than can be resolved in a single painting. This can be done by painting a particular scene over and over until the artist is satisfied that the subject has been fully explored. It can be done by using each painting as a stepping stone to the next--they're connected by their technique and subject, but each delves further into the subject until the artist has satisfied their curiosity. I'm working on a group of elongated palms on the beach that are related and seem to grow from each other, and this subject continues to intrigue me so I know there's room for more exploration.
In addition to Monet's water lily series, one very famous series of paintings are Van Gogh's Sunflowers. His yellow sunflowers were painted in every stage from opening bloom to decay. Van Gogh told his brother that "the sunflowers are mine" because from his work he learned every nuance of their being.
The Everglades provide this kind of fascination for me, and I never tire of learning more about the way the light and landscape interact. But so far I have not made a commitment to paint the same location over and over. There's just too much to enjoy and explore.