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


Daily Chores, Passage painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Passage, Jo-Ann Sanborn, 2010
Acrylic on canvas, 20x24

What are the daily chores of a landscape artist?  What do we do to fill each day? 

Observe the landscape to do a great job of painting it.  Usually you look closely at the scene in front of you in order to begin finding the essence of the landscape you are about to paint.  For me this is most often the Everglades. 
Other times observations come upon you in a quiet moment.  As you sip your morning coffee, just for a few moments the sky turns a remarkable shade of pink as the sun peeks over the horizon.  If you weren't observing, you'd miss it.  Let it wash over you, feel it, and it will bring depth to your painting that day, or show up in a later painting. 
Thinking about the things you've seen takes a mind free of the other obligations of life, even if just for a while.  The artist needs some time each day just to contemplate what you've seen, what you've heard, and what you've read.  Those things combined, and your reaction to them, are what make you who you are as a painter.  The thinking time will show in your work.
Generating art is what you're all about.  It the most important thing you do as an artist, because without painting you'll lose the essence of what you saw and what you thought about it.  Painting often builds skill and inventory.  Paint often and regularly!
Connecting is a vital part of being an artist.  First comes connecting with family and friends.  Don't neglect this just because they'll forgive you.  You'll find that you need this in varying amounts. 
Today, connecting with the outside world is easy and vital.   Join your local Art League, visit an art show, write a blog, try Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or join an online artist forum. 
It might seem that observing, contemplating, generating and connecting can make for a pretty full day.  Yep! 
Thanks to Chris Brogan for the idea for today's post.


Vistors, Sailing, and Thanksgiving

The studio was busy and full of visitors last week as we held our second painting party with the theme Mostly Monet.  The participants all exhibited great creative enthusiam and had a wonderful time. 
 Monetessori School came to visit and the children enjoyed painting a group painting.  Then they ffollowed clues to a scavenger hunt about the art.  They counted boats and found curlers, looked for an eagle and found feathers.  It was fun for all and the children were quite serious in their discussions about the art, except for one little boy who didn't want to see the paintings at all! 

Many people will sail away and leave the island for the holidays.  As much as they love Marco Island, they'll always call somewhere else home.  But for me, this is my home now, and I'm thankful to be sharing this Thanksgiving with family from afar. 

Sail Away
acrylic on canvas, 5x7

Along with the family and friends I hold dear to my heart, at Thanksgiving I'm always especially thankful for the people who have purchase and collect my paintings.  Some of you have collected my work since I first came to Marco Island and have seen my work change and grow I developed as a Florida landscape painter.  

Some of you have picked up my work because you also have a love of our endangered Everglades.  Some enjoy my work because of the strong forms and bold shapes.  Sometimes a color attracts you, or you just see a painting passage that you love.  When any of these things happen and you purchase the work, a bond is formed between you and the painting, and me.  

In every case I'm thankful for each connection, and for each sale.  As my work and career advance, I'm delighted to have you along for the ride.  You've watched my prices appreciate as I've gained skill and recognition.  Better still, you've brought your friends and your children into the circle.

So when I sit down to a delicious Thanksgiving feast this year thinking of the many things I'm grateful for in my life, you, my collectors, will be among them.  Thank you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!


No Man's Land, painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

No man's Land, Jo-Ann Sanborn 2010
acrylic on canvas, 20x24

Few people were found living in the Everglades region prior to the turn of the last century. The interior was simply too wet to live comfortably, and those who did set their homes on higher ground near the coastal ridges.

The people who did live here put out a cry for help after devastating hurricanes in the late 1920's and 1940's. They petitioned to control the flood waters that continually threatened the area, and Congress complied. It seemed the right thing to do at the time, but the results have been devastating for the Everglades ecosystem, and now efforts are underway to restore the ancient water flows.

Scores of stakeholders, led by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwest Florida Management Agency have developed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan neither of which have an easy link to the plan or their part in it.

The plan is huge, and of such significance that we all ought to be aware of it. How the water is handled will affect our water and our economy. There are so many parts and so many stakeholders each with their own take that it's not easy to follow. Still, occasionally you might see a request for public comment. When you do, please speak up for the land!


Arts Afire on Marco Island!

I'm doing too much other than painting right now. This happens to me now and again, and with a big show coming up in February and family responsibilities increasing over the holidays, I have to make some decisions to pull back.

So, I've bowed out of a joint venture to produce labyrinth floor cloths, and will leave the Palette Parties to others in my studio. I'm most likely going to have to pass on being on the committee of the Chamber of Commerce's "Wet Paint Live." Still, I believe that the arts build community, was brought up to be service oriented, and have to put some time in making the arts grow.

The Arts Advisory Committee of the City of Marco, which for two years has been a very manageable commitment, is doing something that I just can't refuse. We're working on a new Celebration of the Arts to include fine arts, music, dance, and theater. It will a wonderful opportunity for our community to view and enjoy the arts, and will end with a celebratory dinner dance and presentation of Flame Arts Awards on March 20, 2011.

Arts Afire website will be up soon, but in the meantime you can do your part by nominating someone for one of the awards. I'll have applications in the studio, and so will the Art League of Marco and the Marco Foundation for the Arts.

You also download a copy from front page of the City of Marco's website, or here. Look for the flames, and look to your fellow citizens and see who might deserve a little recognition in the literary, visual or performing arts.

Deadline is December 31, so don't delay. Nominate someone today!


Wall Art is so Yesterday! Sunset in Paradise daily painting by artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Sunset in Paradise
Acrylic on board, 5"x7"

The artists of the Artist Colony at the Esplanade met last night for a pot luck supper. Starters on the patio as the sun set, great fun learning something about each other we didn't already know, and a delicious pot luck dinner by candlelight in and out of the house, opened up to the delightful weather.

We had some good laughs trying to figure which artist was responsible for some fact we didn't know about them. Who knew that artist Carolyn Burger had played solo guitar at a high school talent show, or that artist Betty Newman had flown on the Concorde with David Bowie? Or that artist Darren Clark had had words with Oliver North in an Oxford bar?

Mostly we talked about the things that any group would when together socially. Even politics reared it's head. Almost too touchy but the subject was changed easily and we moved on to more appealing subjects.

What outraged us and drew the most ire was a ad run in the Marco Island Eagle by Wilson Lighting. "Wall Art is so Yesterday" the ad said. Given the high number of Collier County artists, and the huge percentage of income in the county attributed to the arts, why promote your business at the expense of a large population who will take offense? What were they thinking?

"Wrong" we said! Wall art has kept it's appeal for almost 25,000 years. Wall art is warm, colorful, personal, and keeps giving pleasure. You don't have to have electricity to enjoy it. We don't expect it to go away soon! In the meantime, not many artists will be shopping at Wilson Lighting.


Teaching, Sheltering Arms painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Sheltering Arms, by Jo-Ann Sanborn 2010
acrylic on canvas, 24"x36"

When you take an art class or a workshop, what do you expect to get out of it? That's one of the first questions I ask when starting a new class. It's a lot easier to meet people's expectations if you know what they want. Will you be expecting the teacher to shelter and guide you, or will you expect to work hard to gain knowledge the teacher has and you want to learn?

When I first started teaching, I wondered if I knew enough and would be able to offer enough to my students, but I found that I love to organize the material, and to teach in a sequential way. I like to present material so that students understand it, and then have them do some work to learn, and then looking at the results. I'm also a fan of handouts, so students have the material to recall and refresh.

Lately I've been teaching in short, two hour increments in four week sessions. Each session can stand alone. This is perfect for getting a concept or idea across. Students can take work home if they want, work on it during the week, and bring it back if there are questions.

I'll be teaching a class on Color Confidence at the Art League of Marco Island in January. It will start January 4, so all of you who are just coming back, or who might be away from Marco Island for the holidays may want to sign up before you go. We'll work hard to learn why color mixing is so hard and about color value and color temperature and why they are important. We'll have fun, but I know you'll learn a lot too.

If you're not interested in the hows and whys, and just want to try a little painting, sign up for one of the "Palette Parties" at Rightside Studios. I'll be leading "Mostly Monet" on Monday, but it's all sold out. Our next one will be on Nov. 29. It might make a memory with family or older grand kids, and it might introduce you to a whole new world!


Just say No, Family Outing by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Family Outing, JoAnn Sanborn, 2010
acrylic on canvas, 8"x10"

Today's painting, Family Outing, makes me think of how little we know about family of those other than humans. Are these trees related, with the small one the result of cross-pollination between the other two. Will they know if someone came along and killed one of the three?

There's talk of a new highway interchange deep in some of our valuable open space. The reason is that people need it for fire and hurricane protection, and yet many of the people in that area choose it for it's quiet and isolation.

Is this interchange really necessary to protect the lives of the people who live in this area? How many have died here? What are the alternatives? What is the cost to the very environment that sustains us?

Collier County has more preserved land than most Florida counties. However, the population of Collier County in 2007 was almost 320,000, a number that had grown 26% in the previous 10 years. Almost 275,000 live here year round, putting tremendous pressure on the delicate environment and our natural resources. But our environment creates jobs and provides income for many Floridians.

As the head of the food chain, shouldn't we be taking a step back? Think about sharing rather than hogging? Taking care of the very plants and animals that make it possible for us to live here?

Please, just say NO to this new interchange. It's in the wrong place.


Monday's Muse, by Jo-Ann Sanborn ©2010
Acrylic on Canvas, 20x24

Artist's often search for their particular muse. The word muse comes from Greek Mythology, when certain goddesses, spirits or real people were thought to inspire excellence in music, literature, and song. According to Varro, a Roman Scholar, there are only three. Once borne from the sound of the movement of water, one from the sound of striking the air, and the third by the sound of the human voice.

By classical times there were nine, who embody the arts and inspire creation with the graces of song and stage, tragedy and comedy, music and dance, poetry, history and astronomy. Most people could recognize the muses by the symbols they carried. Calliope, who's domain was epic poetry, for example, carried a tablet, and Euterpe, symbolizing music, carried an aulos.

There's very little in ancient times about a muse for the visual artist, but it is thought that by embodying the attributes of the muses, the artist will benefit and prosper. My muse is the Everglades, a constant source of inspiration with many moods and faces. Sometimes he's in close attendance, and other times very hard to find.

If you'd like to see Greek pottery including the muses, visit the blog of Stapleton Kearns. He's done several posts on Greek Art that are perfect for a mini-lesson.


Chickee Huts, Beach Sunset painting by Everglade artist JoAnn Sanborn

Beach Sunset, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on board, 5"x7"

We've had some beautiful sunsets lately and I love the way this little chickee hut glows in the setting sun. This one's on Resident's Beach on Marco Island.

Chickee is a Mikasuki, or Creek word. There is evidence of native Americans using palm frond structures since the time of the Spanish invasion, however at the time of the first Seminole war, log cabins were the homes of choice. As the US troops pushed deeper into the glades, the Chickee hut regained favor as a shelter that could be put up and taken down, or left, quickly.

These open-air homes are still being used by the Mikasuki and Seminoles today. The Chickee provides sturdy shelter, are visibly pleasing in the landscape, and are made of renewable resources.

Part of the settlement at the end of the Seminole wars allowed the tribes to build the chickee huts wherever they could find business, regardless of zoning or permits. If you'd like to see the process of one being built, you can start here.


Fire ant attack, No Man's Land painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

No Man's Land, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 24"x30"

When you go out for your hike in the magical, mystical Everglades, there are a few things you might like to take along, and a few that you should watch out for, and a few you should be careful of.

If you're doing one of the walks in my last post, it's good to know that there are rest rooms at the walk at Big Cypress Bend, the Visitor's Center oat SR41 and SR29, and at the Ranger Station on Janes Scenic Drive. Take along some water in case you stay longer than you think, and some mosquito wipes. I'll talk more about the mosquitoes in a new post. If you're a painter and you plan to plain, you might benefit from my plein air tips.

For the benefit of the creatures that live there, think of it as their home, and treat it like you would if you were a guest in someones house. Take any trash you've brought home with you or secure it in a proper receptacle If you happen upon a Rookery enjoy it and back out quietly. Never, ever feed an alligator, or throw rocks at it to make it move, or poke it with a stick. Treat it like you'd like to be treated in a similar circumstance. If you see the elusive Florida Panther, consider it a gift.

Most of all look around carefully BEFORE you stand still. There's a lot of interesting stuff in the Glades, and before you stop to marvel at the beautiful bromiliads in a tree, make sure you're not standing in an ant hill! Fire ants are the thing to be most careful of and they are considered the six legged scourge of the South. Supposedly taclum powder repels them, but I have not tried this out, forgeting until it's too late.

There are more of them than alligators, eagles, birds and panthers, and they are the most ready to cause you trouble. Many of them make their homes by the side of the road. They don't like visitors, and if you step on a nest you'll suffer for days!

The fire ants seem to crawl so quietly that you don't know they are there, until one of them somehow gives the sting signal. The first thing you will feel is some stinging on your leg or foot. First--move away fast. If you stay where you are while getting rid of them, more will be on you in a moment. Then, if you have a sock or shoe on remove it immediately and drop it, and get the ants off your legs. They get further around than you think, so make your you've killed EVERY ONE on you. Look between your toes and around your heel, cause at this point the sneaky buggers are hiding and waiting for a second bite.

Finally, go pick up your shoes. Hit them on something hard, a tree or your car, until you're sure the ants are gone. They're not, you will still find more hiding in your shoe, along the edge of the seam or under the strap. Same with the socks. Look thoroughly. No matter how desperately you do this phase, I can almost guarantee you another bite. Finally, it's over!

But wait! It's not over yet because if even one of them has had a good bite you will sting for hours, and will have a painful reminder for days, and left with a scar. Do I sound like I'm talking from experience? Yep! More than one? Yep!

So, you've been warned. This video isn't great quality, but will show you what to look for!


Dry Season, Autumn painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Autumn, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 30"x40"

It's the beginning of the dry season in the Everglades, and one of the best times of year to visit. There's less water and fewer mosquitoes, and as the grasses dry the colors become soft and warm with lots of purple. If you winter in the area and haven't been out to the vast wilderness just outside our door, it's time to take a walk. You can go with a guide, but the area is very accessible for you to investigate on your own. I'll start close to home

The Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve is only a few miles from the Naples/Marco Island area and is easy to visit. Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, is a self-guided boardwalk about 8 miles from where SR92 hits SR41, is on the left. The easy boardwalk, about a mile out and back, takes you to a lovely natural pond at the end, where you're almost sure to see an alligator. If you're fortunate you'll see the bold eagle who lives in a tree off to the left, and we've seen a huge owl there, too. Raccoons, snakes, deer many birds and even a panther have been seen on the boardwalk. It's best to go early and be very quiet!

The newer Marsh Trail makes a lovely walk. It's found about 3 miles past Seminole State Park, on the right coming from Marco. It's a pleasant walk with a fabulous high overlook for a great view of the area. There's always a lovely breeze on top, and you can see great distances. Several of my new paintings come from this area, including Autumn above. See if you can find it!

If you're more of a driver than a hiker, Jane's Scenic Drive off SR29 will take you into the strand. It's a beautiful area with many cypress trees where you can stop and look into the clear, clear water or take a walk along one of the old logging trails.

C'mon, give it a try!
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