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!