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


Me & Monet, painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

After Monet by JoAnn Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 18x24

Surprise! Today's painting isn't an Everglades scene. It started out as a copy of a painting by Claude Monet, one of a scene from the lily pond at Giverney. Like most of my canvases, once I have the block-out done I go my own way, with just a reference here and there to my source.

I did this particular painting rather quickly because I intended to hang it when friends came for a French themed cocktail hour. However, in my haste I didn't notice the size, and when I went to frame it for the dining room, I didn't have the right size frame on hand. Monet wouldn't have had such a problem!

There's something envious about the way Monet was able to manage his life and his property around his art. I've been to Giverney and it is lovely. The comfortable home opens onto a garden with rose arbors leading down a romantic path to the lily pond.

His life wasn't always easy, but by the time he purchased Giverney, Monet knew what he was after. His family provided just the right food at the right times of day not to interfere with his painting, his gardeners worked to create his landscape vision for the property for the best light on his roses, company was invited to visit according to his painting schedule, and his paintings of dancing light and color are uniquely wonderful and have withstood the test of time.

I'm just a tiny bit envious. Would there be a chance I'll be remembered into the next millennium if I can just learn how to order my life to be subordinate to my art?


Walk by the Water
Acrylic on Canvas, 5"x7"

What colors do you think of when you think of summer? For me, the heat softens everything and I like the soft blues, greens and blue greens. I think of the water and sky colors and here in Florida add lots of greens. Some people think of summer in terms of hot colors like reds and yellows. If you attend the Artist Colony Artwalk tonight, you'll get to see many variations of the Colors of Summer.

Colors of Summer is the theme for tonight's Last Wednesday Art Walk at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade, on Marco Island from 5-8 p.m. There'll be new art work to view, favorites to choose, an great music, live in the galleries, and some good art talk. In addition, if yo visit all three galleries your punch card will get you some great treats from the other Esplanade merchants!

Tara's Steak and Lobster House offers a free glass of wine, and CJ's Bayside offers 20% off their dinner specials on Art Walk nights. Starbucks, Stone Cold Creamery, Tycoon Gallery and Ricks Island Salon have joined in the fun. To see what each of them are offering, you'll have to come along.

No, it's not the last Art Walk, just held the Last Wednesday of every month. If you've been coming from January, you know that it happens every month -- on the Last Wednesday. You can put it on your calendar now for next month if you like. Yes, Last Wednesday of every month! Hope to see you there.


Mostly Yellow, 2010, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 5"x7"

People ask me where a particular painting was painted. It's a great way to start a conversation about the piece. I'm happy to tell them. Most all of my paintings are painted of a particular location, one that I've visited and means something to me. As I'm searching for just the right feel for the painting I'm remembering the gentle trickle of the water or the whisper of the wind of the location to help me with it's interpretation.

If you're another artist, you might bring a critical or admiring eye to viewing a painting. You may want to look closely at color or form or composition, and see what you can learn, or how the work differs from what you do.

As a collector, you bring a sense of personal knowledge to the viewing. You might bring your wishes, your dreams and your memories. Perhaps the piece reminds you of a place you knew and loved as a child. Perhaps it looks like somewhere you walked with a friend, met a lover, or had a personal Epiphany.

Perhaps the depth of the work appeals to you. Maybe the colors are ones you and want to surround yourself with. Maybe the forms energize you or the peaceful flow of the water brings you peace.

Bringing together of the idea of the artist and the soul of the viewer that makes art worth doing! What do you bring to the viewing of a painting?


Messing around with Materials, by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

acrylic on board, 5"x5"

I almost always start with a dark background on my paintings. I like the cohesiveness that a solid background color brings to a painting, and I like being able to change things around easily at the start of a painting. Loosely moving around a canvas in that big dark trying to find my way using both years of study and intuitiveness is what makes my paintings uniquely mine. And working towards the light is a symbolism that appeals to me.

Still, messing around times are important, and there are times when working out of the norm is necessary. I had purchased some 5x5 cradled panels a while ago, and wanted to use them in a way different from my usual methods. They've been sitting there just waiting for the right idea to come along.

I've started a commission that I plan to use pen and ink as part of my mixed media plan, and it's been stirring around in the back of my mind. These little panels seemed like the perfect way to get more comfortable with pen and ink, which I haven't used for a good many years.

Messing around with materials can be both fun and rewarding. Using the simple banana leaves outside my window, I did a pen and ink drawing on the surface, and used transparent acrylics with quite a bit of medium to color the image.

It was fun and I learned a lot about where to go next to get the look I want for the commission, and maybe a way to go with the rest of the panels. How about taking a jaunt outside your comfort zone today?


Oil, Catching the Light painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Catching the Light
acrylic on canvas, 40x30

There's a first ray of hope that the gushing oil spill has been stopped after 87 days of flowing freely. Now begins the serious and difficult fight to save the Gulf of Mexico. Who will take the lead?

Cleaning up the Gulf, and restoring both the jobs and the habitat should now become the priority and focus of action. It will take teamwork, money, and leaderships to restore the loss of the marsh habitat in the upper Gulf, and remove the carpet of oil covering the Gulf bottom.

Someone needs to assess the effects of the oil and chemical dispersant on the vast number of species who's survivial depends on clean water and the the long-term effects on the human population who ring the Gulf, and generate a plan for their recovery.

Further south, the unique Everglades landscape I paint daily is so far unaffected. Our marshes are clear of oil and our beaches still lovely. I've spent long hours in the uninhabited places of South Florida, and come to love the sound of the wetlands and the singing of the insects and the birds as they go about their daily business in a world we can only imagine. I don't want to lose them.


Art League Sale, Just One daily painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Just One
acrylic on board, 6"x6"

My paintings seemed to be quiet and subdued for a while and now things are heating up with the warmer colors on my palette getting a work out. Is it the heat?

I respond to each Everglades landscape individually, and can't always be sure where even a small painting will take me, but I am enjoying the slower summer pace and the warmer colors. Today? Who knows. We'll see what my muse brings to the table.

One thing I'm planning this week is to stop by the Art League of Marco for their special sale. They've cleaned out the closets and are having a Rediscovered Treasure Trove of goods for sale. In addition to a wide range of 2 and 3-D work for sale, they'll be demonstrations centered around restoring and rejuvenating your older treasures. Should be fun, and I know they can use the money. If you're around I hope you'll help support this effort or stop in and enjoy one or more of the demonstrations. More information here.


Gulf Breeze
Acrylic on canvas, 24"x36

Despite the heat there's almost always a nice breeze here on Marco Island. The swaying of the palm trees and the movement of the grasses in the Everglades is delightful. The heat and the breeze are the inspiration for this new larger painting.

Some Ridley turtles have been released into the warm gulf waters south of Marco Island after spending some time in recoup after various injuries at the for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, MS.

The turtles were moved to Sea World's Animal Rehabilitation Center in Orlando for rehab and released near Marco Island because the Oil Spill would have affected their safe release. The release was made possible by a cooperative effort between Center and Florida's Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles spend most of their life swimming long distance in both the Gulf and the Ocean. They're endangered in all of their habitat, and the oil spill will put further stress on the endangered species. Since Marco Island has only a very small chance of ever being affected, our waters should remain clear of the toxins associated with the spill. It is hoped that the turtles will remain in the area rather than try to return to their former home.

The Marco Island Foundation for the Arts was instrumental in the acquisition of a beautiful bronze sculpture of Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles by wildlife artist Kent Ullberg. The sculpture was donated to the City, and Journey's End can be seen at Jane Hitler Park, N.Collier Blvd, Marco Island. Stop by, it is lovely. And wish the released little turtles a safe journey.


Happy! Summer Sunset daily painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Marco Summer Sunset
acrylic on board, 5"x7"

I had a nice compliment last week when one of my collectors made a purchase. He said, "Your paintings make us happy." That's the type of comment I will hold in my heart and will help to offset the less complimentary comments I hear from time to time.

I'll remember it when a painting is not going quite as well as expected, I'm frustrated by not being able to get something quite right, or the feeling of the atmosphere just won't translate onto the canvas in the way I want.

It's right up there with the person who told me that "Your painting transformed our room!" Another art-sustaining compliment was when someone told me that "I didn't see the beauty of the Everglades until your paintings opened my eyes!"

Happy! What an gift from a collector, to be told that my paintings make them happy. Their purchase and that great compliment have made me happy for days! Thank you!


What makes a Professional Artist? Morning in Rose, daily painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Morning in Rose
acyclic on canvas, 8"x10"

I've been thinking about what makes an artist a professional? The requirements aren't exactly like other professions--there's no State or Federal exam to qualify you, and a degree is only one way to get there. So, here's a start on my list. What do you think? If you're a collector, do you look for these things or rely on a gallery to qualify an artist for you? If you're an artist, how do you know you've arrived?

Education, which can take many forms, such as an art degree, apprenticeship, or working under an established artist, taking and learning in workshops, and extensive self study. A true artist is always learning something, and generally has a broader perspective on the world than many people.

Presentation, of a quality product using archival materials, preparing surfaces to last, honing skills the perseverance and practice over years of time. Learning, changing, growing.

Critical Acclaim, being accepted into juried exhibitions and museum shows, being asked to invitational events, winning prizes, being newsworthy, and developing a collector base who wants to purchase.

Acceptance to professional organizations, meeting their acceptance criteria, then being juried into state and national professional organizations.

Having an idea worth sharing, a unique style or palette, and wanting to convey something broader in each painting than just making a pretty picture.


Color Correction, Lazy River painting by Everglades artists JoAnn Sanborn

Lazy River
acrylic on canvas, 16x20

Lazy River is a rich, deep color painting of a spot down in the glades off Everglades City. I haven't been there for a while but remember the feeling of just floating along, enjoying the warm light on the palms and the slow movement of the current. Time almost stands still at moments like this. They bring a feeling of inner peace that's nice to remember.

I've purchased a small, light, mini-computer to leave in the studio or use when we have guests in the study. I'm not a gadget person, and this little mini comes close, but it does the job when I'm needing to look up something quickly or check emails.

Colors vary between one computer and another, but the color change between the mini-computer and my large monitor really surprised me. The background of the blog shows pink on the little guy, not the light yellow it should.

If the images you are receiving in your email don't look as rich and colorful as the paintings you have seen in my studio, or if the blog you are reading doesn't have a pale yellow background color, and you'd like to make color correction, learn here how to make simple color adjustments, or if you want more serious information, here.


Summertime, Out in the Glades, daily painting by Everglades Artist JoAnn Sanborn

Out in the Glades
acrylic on board, 5"x7"

Summer time on Marco Island gets pretty quiet without the fresh influx of visitors and guests, so the artists were delighted to have a great turn-out for the Art Walk last Wednesday. Congratulations to Tracy Gudgel who was this month's winner of the People's Choice. Artists Betty Newman and Tara O'Neill were tied close behind, only two votes separated them from the winner.

Although I paint almost every day, summer is a good time for me to really get my head behind my brush for some new work. It's a time when I experiment and learn. It's also a great time to paint large, since without so many people around, or shows to be dragging paintings to, there's a little more space to spread out, and have a nice triptych of Jane's Memorial Scenic Drive in mind.

It's my experience that the business of making fine art is as much in the head as in the brush. Both must work together for an artist. A thinking, learning, experimenting artist has a lot more to offer than someone who does the same thing over and over just because it's easy. Styles and techniques should expand and grow, and once you learn how to solve a particular art problem, it's time to move on.

So I'll be experimenting with new palettes, new colors, and new forms. And between the mosquitoes and the summer storms I'll go out into the Everglades again to see the way the light plays on the prairies and to absorb the essence of the landscape itself. Without connecting with my muse, the painting part just won't work at all.
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