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.