Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


Friendly Neighbors, painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Friendly Neighbors
12x16, acrylic on canvas

This lighthearted little painting, friendly neighbors, is cheerful and colorful. You can see it in person at Celebrate the arts, the Marco Island Art League's fine arts show this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 10-4. I'm hoping for no rain or wind!

As a exhibitor, I always hope for friendly neighbors at the shows. Set up and tear down occur in very close quarters and can be stressful. Everyone tries not to infringe on the space of someone else, get in their way, or park to confine, but a smile or kind work from a neighbor can make the task pleasant, while a grouchy neighbor just adds to the stress!

There will be close to a hundred high quality arts at the Art League show, including painting, pottery, sculpture and jewelry in addition to a nice selection of entertainment, children's activities, and refreshments, too.

The show is a fundraiser for the Art League. Many have suffered financial difficulties during these hard times, and the Art League is no exception. With a hands-on effort from the board, support of the members and the business community, the Art League is slowly working their way out of debt and back to fiscal responsibility.

This show will be an important fundraiser for the Art League. Come, pay the minimal entrance fee graciously, extra if you can, and pass this on to anyone you think might be interested in a really nice art show. Hope to see you there!


Last Wednesday Art Walk, Please Step Forward Daily Painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Please Step Forward
5x7, acrylic on board

The Artist Colony at the Esplanade will present the Last Wednesday Art Walk in the studio galleries tonight from 5-8 p.m. You'll be offered a glass of wine or coffee, treats to munch on, and enjoy music in each of the three galleries while you visit with artists and see the new work produced this month.

Each of the three galleries will have new work to show and tell about. One of the joys of the Artist Colony is that it's fun to see what everyone else is producing. Ask the artists about the inspiration for a particular piece, or why they chose to portray something in a particular manner. We're all so different. Do you have a favorite yet?

It's been so cold that I haven't ventured too far out lately, but have found plenty of inspiration on the new Marsh Trail. I've got two new paintings from that area, and am working on a large piece. Stop in tonight, and see what's new!


Let's take a Walk
5x7, acrylic on board

The Naples National Art show had the reputation of being the best art show in Naples, and this past weekend was no exception. The park was full on terrific exhibitions, the entertainment varied and even the weather cooperated, holding off on any rain until we packed up the car. I enjoyed being back in the show circuit after a break and some show food, too!

It was truly gratifying to have so many wonderful clients come by to chat, and humbling to learn how many of my paintings, some sold many years ago, are still enjoyed and appreciated. I'm hoping many people will stop by the studio/gallery at the Esplanade, too, now that they're aware of it.

You might enjoy learning that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas festival will be this coming weekend. Marjory Stoneman Douglas moved to from Minnesota to Florida in 1915 at the end of her marriage, and wrote for the Miami Herald where her father was editor. She became enamoured with the Everglades, understood how the water moved over the land, and became a tireless advocate for preserving the delicate ecosystem. Her plea for preservation went as far as the White House, where she was instrumental in persuading President Roosevelt to create Everglades National Park. Douglass is best known for her book, River of Grass, highlighting the natural value of the land. She continued to live simply in Coconut Grove, and to lecture and write about the Everglades until the end of her long life at 108.

She will be honored this week in Everglades City at the annual Marjory Stoneman Douglass Festival. The Festival, starting on Feb. 23, will open with a lecture of Everglades Culture and History by Dr. Laura Ogden, followed by a luncheon and fashion show. Walks, talk, films and workshops will continue throughout the week. Tickets, required for some of the events, can be purchased through the Everglades Museum.


Naples National Art Show, Breezy daily painting by Everglades Artist JoAnn Sanborn

5x7 acrylic on board

Another art show coming to town isn’t news these days because you can find one almost every weekend. There are the shows on Fifth Avenue, shows at the shopping areas like Coconut Point and the Mercardo, Art in the Park, ArtCrafter shows, and shows on several corners of Collier every weekend in season.

Ah, but is it art? If you attend many of these shows you’ll see a big difference between one show and another. If you’re looking for a pot holder or a painted coconut, then the corner craft show may have just what you want. If you want a quality piece of art for your home, where you know the artist is serious about their work and that your piece will hold it’s value and be well made, a juried show may be your best choice.

My favorite of the year is the Naples National Art Show. This large and prestigious show has been around for a long time and draws artists from around the country. Artists are juried in and the competition is stiff. I’m delighted to be included, and will have some larger paintings and some dailies for you to enjoy. I’ll be in the red section, along 8th Street Saturday and Sunday from 10-4. Hope you’ll stop by and say hello!


Inner peace, Morning Peace painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Morning Peace
16x20, acrylic on canvas

I had the good fortune to be interviewed by a delightful young woman doing a research paper on what inspires artists, particularly those who find the beauty of the Everglades worth recording through art. We spoke for some time, as she asked me to define what it was about my special place, the Everglades, that makes it important for me to paint.

Talking about the Everglades is something that comes easily to me. I told her that the bold forms of the palms thrusting up out of the prairies, the quiet gurgle of the moving water, or the rustle of the breeze through the leaves of a cypress dome, the way dancing light played on the sawgrass compelled me to my canvas and provided endless inspiration.

She wanted something deeper, though, and as we spoke she drew out of me that the ties humans have with uninhabited places fills an emptiness of the soul. That as we contemplate the timelessness of an ancient place, and let it's beauty slowly become part of us, the we may find peace that may elude us in other circumstances.

I find inner peace on the edges of a prairie in the Everglades, in the morning light as the sun informs the dawn, in the breeze as Old Mother West Wind's children play. I'm absolutely delighted when one of my paintings can make you feel it, too!


Cold Florida Weather, Winter Sunshine painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Winter Sunshine
11x14, acrylic on canvas

Today's painting is another I was finishing up as a spoke with visitors to the Esplanade. It's interesting and informative to talk with people from all over the globe and to hear of their delight in finding working artists on site.

The weather has been a serious topic of conversation on Marco Island this year since many of our visitors come from colder climates. Some are delighted by our sunshine, happy to be away from the snow, while those who have been here in warmer winters are unhappy about the extremely cold winter we're having.

I know that I was certainly overly optimistic when I wrote my February newsletter, speaking boldly about spring in the air after a couple of warmer days. It's now mid February, and I'm fighting for the life of my tropical plants!

After all, we're in a subtropical location. Climatologists vary a little on the actual temperatures for a subtropical zone, but agree that temperatures in the 40's and 50's are common in winter, and we've had our share of 30's this year! Oh, for a day in the 70's!

Manatee deaths are up due to cold stress. Fish gather in deep holes near the bottom. I haven't seen a gecko for days. I'd be very interested to know how our invasive species, especially the animals, in the Everglades are handling the cold weather. Will it kill off the iguanas and the pythons?


Thursdays at Waterfront, Gift daily painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

5x7, acrylic on board

This little painting was sold right off the easel as I put on the finishing touches. I enjoyed meeting the buyer, a young woman from NYC who knows and enjoys art. She was going to put it on a small easel on her coffee table. It was late, she didn't want it framed, so it was a quick sale and off it went. I'll enjoy thinking of it in it's more cosmopolitan life!

Last night we attended an art opening at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade. Waterfront Gallery is a little harder to find since it is facing the water rather than being in the main corridor, but once you are there it is worth the trip. There are nine enthusiastic artists in the Waterfront Gallery, and they have decided to bring more attention to their space by having a featured artist with an opening every week for the next nine weeks.

Their work is all quite different, and when numbers were drawn, abstract artist Tony Dallman-Jones was designated as the first artist to show his work. Waterfront Gallery loves to play host, and the wine was poured generously and the treats were delectable. Tony's work was hung on their long wall and looked terrific, his abstract impressions providing much fodder for discussion. Tony's work will hang all week, to be replaced by another artist next Thursday night.

It would be nice to have strong community support for these openings. The Artist Colony is bringing people from all over to visit, and is helping to make Marco an arts destination. If you're a business person, you'll benefit from increased business. If you're a realtor, you'll benefit, since people want to live where art opportunities are available. If you have relatives from up north after the beach you can take them out for lunch and an art walk. Visitors and residents alike tell us every day how much they appreciate our being available to them.

And you personally benefit by expanding your vision, seeing new artwork, talking to an artist about the how and why of what they're doing, seeing what you like and what you don't, and enjoy a constantly changing feast for the eyes.

Hope to see you in all three galleries, and please, put Thursdays at Waterfront on your calendar.


Complacency, Waiting for Spring daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Waiting for Spring
5x7, acrylic on board
$150 framed

Cold again! Looks like it will be this way all week. We've nothing to complain about visitors are all too willing to tell us as they come into the studio in their sweatshirts. It's much colder where I come from. But for me, I'm sick of sweatshirts, socks and scarfs!

I'm ready for Spring and it's showing up in my palette! When you get comfortable with the colors on your palette, know what to expect of each one, know how it will react with all the other colors you squeeze out for your working day, and exactly how it will mix, it’s time to add a new color to your palette. Or perhaps try a whole new palette.

An artist should never get too comfortable with any materials and methods that allow staying in a comfort zone for too long. That’s not the job of an artist. Experiment, try a color, method or material, think about your work with a fresh eye. Comfort equals complacency, and complacency stifles creativity.

I have thought about this a lot lately because I’ve been painting the Everglades for a long time now. Still, after examining my motives, I know I’m not done yet. I continually see new things, new colors, new forms. The light continues to be fabulous and intrigues and inspires. I don’t copy nature, my paintings come from deep within and resonate with this ancient landscape. The day I feel complacent and the work becomes easy, I’ll try something new.


Everglades Safari, Everglades Mangrove daily painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Everglades Mangrove
12x16, acrylic on canvas

The Florida Everglades have become my muse and my mission. As an artist, their bold shapes, colorful forms and remarkable light provide my inspiration. One of my joys is to introduce others to their beauty

Some people are afraid of mosquitoes, the heat, alligators, and other dangers both real and imagined, and would prefer to have someone with knowledge and experience introduce them to this ancient landscape. Just such an event is coming up soon.

Friends of the Fakahatchee will be holding an Everglades Safari on Saturday, February 27th. Famous Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher will make a guest appearance, and you'll have options for walking, riding or wading as you are introduced to the landscape. The afternoon will end with a "Florida Cracker Dinner" including wine. Since events like this are fun and very popular, reserve early!


Out of Focus, daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Yes, today's photo is out of focus. Its either that, or nothing. Yesterday I chose not to post it, and then forgot to redo the photo. I realize there are no excuses for this!

My camera, same brand and model as my old one, doesn't seem to work the same way at all. In addition, I'm never in my old studio where I took fine photos in the past, at the times the light is just right. The new Studio at the Artist Colony in the Esplanade has very uneven light and I can't seem to get a good photo there at all. Sometimes, however, I will take a quick photo to remind me that I haven't documented the work yet so that I don't forget while going back and forth.

It's funny how what you do comes back to haunt you. Not long ago I suggested, to another blogger who had asked for comments about her blog, that she not apologize for h
er photos. Hers were almost always good, at least on my computer, and often I couldn't see the flaws she she apologized for almost daily. Looking for the flaws took the focus off the beautiful works of art she was creating.

So, sorry, Kelly. I can't seem to get a good photo, and this one's definitely worth an apology! But sometimes life is a little out of focus, and if you just squint a little . . . . . . . . . .


Dancing Ladies
20x24. acrylic on canvas

There was an interesting discussion recently on the web about what constitutes an original work of art. Some people felt that it was any work of art done by the hand of an artist, and that the job of the artist was only to observe and interpret.

But there was also strong opinion that if 10 art students are in a room drawing the same figure, none of the work is original because the idea of drawing the figure is not original, and that an original work of art is only something that shows us something new, in a unique and different way.

Since I'm a landscape artist, when I think of artists who showed us a new way of interpreting the landscape, I think of artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and more recently, Wolf Kahn. These artists have painted differently from artists in the past and opened our eyes to seeing the landscape in a new way.

Their work is instantly recognizable as a Monet, a Van Gogh, or a Kahn. They've shown us a new way of looking. Now that's something to strive for!

Occasionally someone will tell me that because of seeing my paintings they see the Everglades in a whole new way. While I know that I'm only a small way along the path of "artist", it's the highest compliment I can receive.
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