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


Color Confidence Class

Color Confidence is over, and what a wonderful class it was! I’ve asked my students to pose for you with their favorite piece. You can see how different the subject matter and styles are. In the four short weeks we covered color mixing, color value, color harmonies and color temperature. Color for me is an inexhaustible subject and there’s always something new to learn.

My next class will be Tuesday mornings starting March 8th, acrylics and the Florida Landscape. We’ll discuss the parts of the landscape, trees, clouds, water, and atmospheric progression in short two hour bites. Maybe some homework? I’ll give handouts and we’ll critique at the end of every session.

Because the class is the short and sweet variety, only two hours per session, there’s not enough time to go outside and paint. As artist Stapleton Kearns says “learning to paint the landscape inside is like learning to swim on the sofa.” So I’ve asked the Art League to add another day and we’ll take a morning to paint out in the Everglades. You can call the Art League of Marco or sign up online if you’d like to come along!


Wet Paint Live, Heat of the Moment painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Heat of the Moment, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on Canvas, 24"x30"

If you missed last night's Wet Paint Live auction at the Art League of Marco, you missed something special!  It was a blast.  Eighteen artists had done a great job of braving the cool weather to complete a beautiful set of outdoor paintings.  A goodly number of patrons came to the evening event ready to enjoy seeing the finished work and to bid. 

Kretches provided a yummy buffet, wine flowed, and the artists were introduced.  (most of us smile graciously while really wanting to throw up when it's your painting up for bid)  Auctioneer Chris Lombardo did a great job keeping the audience bidding and laughing with his funny and occasionally irreverent style, and most of the painters were pleased when their paintings sold for the price of a good days work. 

Marcoites are becoming familiar with the local artists, and and some of our dearest collectors came to bid on paintings by their favorites.  Many new faces were seen in the crowd, and one dear gentlemen told me he had flown in specifically for the event and had had a ball, and picked up some nice paintings as well.  

Marco Island Wet Paint Live is a partnership between Marco's artists, Marco's arts organizations, and the Leadership Marco arm of the Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to all who came, and to those who purchased. Marco's students will benefit since the money raised will all go to scholarship.  Don't miss it next year! 

My painting?  In the heat of the moment I forgot to take a photo.  Geeze! 


Marco Island Wet Paint, Haze in the Distance daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Haze in the distance, Jo-Ann Sanborn
5"x7", acrylic on board

It's a busy week for the Arts.  Today, Wednesay, Jan 26th, is the monthy Last Wednesday Art Walk at the Artist Colony on the Esplanade.  You are welcome to come and share a glass of wine or other beverage, view new work, talk with the artists, hear live music, and generally enjoy a good  time. 

We will not have the People's Choice this month--after a year we've tired of having to do a theme painting each month, so are trying something new.  YOU will be able to participate in making a painting, and we'll raffle it off to one of the participants.  Visit each studio and MAKE YOUR MARK!

Tomorrow, Thursday January 27th is Marco Island Wet Paint Live.  This is a collaborative venture lead by Marco Island's Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Marco, Marco Island Art League, Marco Island Foundation for the Arts, and some of the islands artists, and other artists with ties to the island. 

Artists will have their canvases stamped between 8-9 am, and be on their chosen site to paint by 9 am.  They'll paint until 3 pm, frame and bring their completed canvases to the Art League on Winterberry Avenue at 4 pm. 

In addition to the artists that you've come to know and love, this year we'll have some wonderful first-time artists and some off-island artists participating, including Don Moser and Robert Gruppe of New England.  Both men have painted in the area on and off for years, and should be exciting additions for collectors.

The finished paintings will be hung for viewing pleasure until 6 pm, when they will be auctioned off. Tickets to view the paintings and to attend the auction can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce.  That's also a good place to pick up maps showing the painting location of the artists.   

I'll be painting at the Esplanade since it's my usual day to work and my partners are all participating or working elsewhere.  I've been looking around for just the right scene.  We'll see what light the day will bring and what will capture my imagination.

I really hope to see you at the auction.  Tickets are only $35, and will be well worth the viewing even if you are not in the market for a painting.  There will be some terrific paintings and some may go for bargain prices.  In any case you are supporting scholarships for Marco students, and should have a lot of fun besides!


The Acrylic Book, Face of the Storm daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Face of the Storm
acrylic on board, 5'x7"

I'm an acrylic painter.  Painting thinly, I use the medium almost like a sculptor, carving and building a painting out of the dark space I start with.  I paint directly, and don't use most of the mediums and additives available. 

I tone each canvas with a warm dark, which can lean towards purple, brown or deep burgundy.  The idea of working towards the light interests me, and I really happy with my work when I can get the canvas to glow from within.  I like to paint directly, without a lot of medium or aides. 

Acrylic is an extremely versatile medium, and can be used with a variety of techniques.  If you'd like to learn more techniques for painting with acrylic and about the wide range of products available to use with them, Liquitex offers The Acrylic Book as a free download that would be a great addition to any acrylic artist's library. 


Back Country, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on Canvas, 20"x24"

Another Everglades painting done some time ago.  Like yesterday's painting, has found a home, where I hope it is still being enjoyed. 

Today we'll talk about color value.  Every color has a value, and you should know the value of the tube colors you use regularly.  Value makes form have volume, and without it your forms are flat and poster-like.  You can also build form with color, since warm colors come forward and cool colors recede.  When you use the two together, using warm and cool colors with correct values, your painting will take on a look of wholeness and completeness. 

Light and value create form no matter what the color.  Here's a simple way to remember color value.
  • Establish the value of the home color of the object you are painting
  • The side of the object away from the light will be a darker (the darkest) value
  • The point where the light hits most directly will be the lightest value
  • Light and reflected light will bathe the object facing the light making them light mid tones.
  • The shadow cast by the object will be dark mid-tone.
Some other helpful things to know when painting the landscape.
  • Color is least distorted where light is strong, to a point
  • Really strong sunlight with wash out the color, sometimes almost completely
  • In weaker light, colors become darker, duller, and more muted. 


January Palms, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 24"x36"

Today's Everglades painting is one you might have seen before, not because I havent' done anything new, but because I'm having house guests, six dear friends and family in our small home, and not much is normal this week!  I have little access to the office, and the photos I took of my new daily was such a poor quality that I just couldn't subject you to it!  Every artist has painted a few favorites, and this is one of mine.  I love the rich colors and the abundant palms, found in several places in the Fakahatchee.  But today, I'm writing about Color Mixing. 

When I have a class, the first thing I do is ask everyone to introduce themselves, and tell a little about what they'd like to get from the class.  Very often the answer is color mixing. While I can teach them about color wheels, color theory, color value and color temperature, I can't give them hard and fast reliable methods for color mixing.  Here's why:

Color sense is very individual, and you and I are most likely even seeing slightly different colors when we try to match.
  • Color itself is affected by many different factors.  What color is the light on the object?  Is it warm or cool?  What angle is it coming from?  Is it a strong color in tinting strength, or a weak color?  In addition, an atmosphere filled with dust, water or pollution will have an effect of the color of an object.
  • Although great strides have been made in recent years, we're still discovering how luminosity, color vibration, and chromatic light affect our perception of color.  
In addition, when we squeeze colors out of the tube, we cannot reliably predict the results despite all our color knowledge.  That's because when we mix two paints together we don't really know what we're working with.  Stapleton Kearns  calls it substance uncertainty.  Here's why:
  • What's in the box?  Each tube of paint produced by the manufacturer varies by dye lot,  sometimes more than just a little
  • Sometimes manufacturers change the formula without telling us
  • Colors with the same name vary between manufacturers
  • Colors have different tinting strength and often one color will dominate the mix.
  • Mixed pigment colors and hues are especially unpredictable because they can contain all three primaries
So here are some hints for getting your color mixing it under control:
  • start with a limited palette of primary colors, a strong red, blue, and yellow of about the same strength, plus white, and use them until you are comfortable mixing them into colors you need for your painting.  Note that you will not have a full value or color range, but should be able to make a convincing painting.  Some artists use this palette for years.  I did!  
  • After getting comfortable with the above, use a warm and cool of each of the three primaries plus white.  You'll have a much greater range, but still manageable. 
  • Do a value scale with every one of the colors on your palette, and every time you add a new color.  This will show the tinting strength of the color, and how it works as a tone and shade.
  • Make a color chart by making a sheet of paper into square with artist tape.  Place your three primaries plus white across the top of a sheet of paper and down the side in the same order as across.  Follow each color to the box and fill in the obvious mix. 
  • Make a color chart for each new palette you chose.  You will learn the full range of colors available from your choices. 


Improve this Painting, by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Because someone recently told me that critiques of my own work were very helpful to them, here's a painting I'm working on that could use improvement.  I thought I had finished this painting, and put it aside to frame, but when I looked at my photo of it, I realized that the balance is off and it will need to be reworked.  Balance is one of the most difficult things to teach, but is critical to making a good painting.

The colors are lovely and the single palm fine.  The problem is with the clouds.  All of the forms in the painting are pointing to the single palm.  If the sloping direction of the clouds was in the other direction, the painting would come into a better balance.

In addition, the grasses at the bottom of the palm look too tight and heavy on one side.  They were forced together because of the small amount of higher earth so close to the waterl.  This happens in the Everglades, where the some plants need to keep their feet just a few inches higher than the surrounding wetlands, and where there's not much soil they clump up tightly.  For the paintings sake the grasses would look better on the canvas if they were spread out a little and lightened.  Their shape could be made more interesting, too. 

Luckily, in acrylic paint this is easy to do.  I work very thinly. so there won't be a big buildup of paint to deal with.  It may just be a matter of working a little more blue into the clouds on the right and dancing some light into the grasses. 

On the other hand, sometimes when you make one correction all the relationships in the painting all change, and it can be hours to get it right. OK, get to work!


Three Pines by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Three Pines by Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 24"x36"

This painting is deceptively simple in it's composition.  It's a series of verticals and horozontals that work together.  You enter this painting at the bottom, where a strong, diagonal light drags you in.  You follow that up the edge of the painting, with the trunks of the pines reinforcing your eye movement upward.  The diagonal of the brush in the backgroud supports this movement. 

Once you get to the top, your eye enjoys a delightful dance among the branches. Unlike much of the country, where the light from the sky sits on top of objects, many trees in Florida are more open and with just a little breeze the light can dance deep into their centers. 

Then your eye will slowly follow the branches with a slight downward slope back down the trunks, and you can start all over again.    Work for you?


Color Confidence Class, Party in the Glades daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Party in the Glades, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 5"x7

I've been teaching a Color Confidence class, and have decided to share more information about making a painting, and my experiences with acrylic paints.  Teaching helps me to organize what I know, and to put it into sequences that will make sense to a student.  I feel strongly about giving students a practical foundation for making a painting.

There are "rules," and you need to know and understand them to make paintings that people will identify with and want to own.  There's just no way around this.  You can break the rules, sometimes gloriously, but you should know what the rules are to get you out of trouble when you need them. 

It may be one reason my classes are popular--I teach the rules!  In Color Confidence, the first thing we needed was a vocabulary for talking about color.  Students come from all walks of life and with varied art experiences.  I want to be sure we're talking the same language, so my first handout is a Color Vocabulary.  You can see mine and download one here if you'd like.  You may find you want to add your own words, too!

It's a four week class, and we'll cover color value, color temperature, color harmonies, and color mixing.  We'll do exercises in each of these subjects to reinforce the lesson, and students will go home with handouts about what we've learned.  It's a sharing class, and some of the students have years of experience as a painter.  I learn, too. 


Art Collectors, Outgoing personality by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Outgoing Personality, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on Canvas, 24"x36"

Without collectors, there would be very little reason for me to make art.  I would, because I always have, but it is the connection to others who see my work, feel what I feel, and participate by purchase that make me love what I do.  

When a collector chooses a painting, is willing to pay for it and to live with it, a connection has been established between the collector and the artist whether it is openly recognized or not, and a valued partnership has been established.  As an artist the purchase of my work is the highest complement someone can give me. 

Many of you love the land, and speak with enthusiasm about your love for the Everglades landscape I portray. Others find enjoyment in the colors I use or the bold forms. This year I'd like to do a better job of honoring this connection, offer opportunities for collector participation, do a better job of keeping in touch, and reach out to new collectors.

Here's how I'll start:
Better recognition for multiple purchases
     Communications special to people who own two or more paintings, 2x this year
     Develop testimonial page on website or blog?
     Continue to offer discount for second purchase and beyond.

Better gift and appreciation recognition
     Purchasers of Daily Paintings - send post card or book mark
     Purchasers of Studio Paintings - send a card or watercolor thank you

Mail 2 x yearly
     Send post card for solo show – early January (almost ready!)
     Mail yearly schedule in October

Reach out to Everglades community
     Participate in Friends of the Fakahatchee Safari – scheduled Feb 26th

I'm expecting that it will only take me two hours a week to fulfill these goals, little enough time for the lifeblood of my business.  To those of you who have purchased and are reading this THANK YOU!  I'm very appreciative of your part in my continued success!


Performance, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on board, 5"x7"

As promised, here’s my first post on my intentions for 2011. I'll start with the studio, since what happens there should be every painter's priority, right after family and friends.  It's all about performance. 

Everyone needs a little tune-up now and then, and for me this list is a tool that I'll review quarterly to help me evaluate where I am and how I'm doing to complete my priorities.  As the year progresses I'll review my list quarterly to ensure my priorities have stayed the same and add or delete as circumstances change.

The Studio is already clean and orderly, my favorite way to start the new year.  Any paintings that have become a burden (artists will know exactly what I mean here) have been chucked out, and any that may have a future have been put in a "finish me" pile. 

 "Think about" or a question mark means I’m not quite ready to move ahead, the subject may require further thought or some research before making a decision. By keeping it on the list, I'll either do it or eventually drop it.  So here's my years start!

In the Studio

  • Work to complete two studio or plein air and three daily paintings each week. This can be modified by family
  • Complete 25 new paintings for upcoming show at Aura Gallery delivery Feb. 8th. (3/4ths complete)
  • Continue to improve technical skills by taking at least one workshop – scheduled
  • Look for the “wow” factor in each painting BEFORE framing
  • Read a how-to book quarterly
  • Improve drawing through small studies by accepting commission work that forces drawing – scheduled
  • Finish inventory of sold paintings or hire someone to do (leftover from last year!) Catalogue at least 1 letter group per month – if not started soon, look for assistant!
  • Spruce up Studio
    • New Year clean-out – do before Jan 1 – done!
    • Purchase two new chairs when funds allow
    • Think about adding a single serving coffee pot 
That's my list!  What's on yours? 


Three words for 2011, First of the Year Everglades painting by Jo-Ann Sanborn

First of the Year, 2010, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on canvas, 16"x20"

Starting off the New Year and prompted by Chris Brogan's post, I've chosen three words to help guide me in 2011.  It's a great exercise if you haven't tried it.  I'll put my words above my desk, and in the studio, too, as a reminder of what's important to me in 2011.

After some thought (and putting off patience, also needing much work) my first word is LOVE.  Not everyone gets enough, and it's a good thing to spread more around.  Sometimes I get so caught up in all the things that have to be done, important and not, it may seem I come up little short in the love department.  It will be a good reminder for me to love first, and to be reminded that everything else comes second.  Everything!

The second word to help guide me this year will be FOCUS.  It's been a busy year with some unexpected and sometimes difficult demands on my time.  It's easy to lose focus and not follow through in the way I have come to expect of myself.  Focus is especially important to an artist, and focus needs to be recognized as important to me.  If I don't have the time or interest to really focus, it's probably something I don't need to be doing. 

GROWTH is my third word. Sometimes I get myself into a holding pattern, or box myself in with commitments.  This leaves no room for growth.  If I leave enough room to breath perhaps there will be room for growth, as an artist, as a person, and in my garden, too.

Just a reminder that my Color Confidence class starts tomorrow at the Art League of Marco Island!  We'll cover color mixing, color values, color temperature and color harmony.  Come along! 


Across the Field, Jo-Ann Sanborn, 2010
acrylic on canvas, 20x24

Happy New Year! 

While I love the fresh start of a new year, the idea of making resolutions doesn’t really work for me. I have a history of letting them go—easily. Now I prefer to be less rigid, with more of a plan and not bound by something I resolved on a bleary morning the first day of the year. Things happen, and some of them need to be made a priority immediately. For me, focus is important, but so is flexibility.

At the end of 2009, I followed Alyson Stanfield’s suggestion to look back on the year and write down accomplishments. She has a check–sheet that prompts you helpfully. It was rewarding to see that I had, in fact, completed a number of things that without the prompt would be lost or unrecognized. I’ve done that again for 2010, and found that I had accomplished quite a bit. I was pleased to remember that I:

• Continued to paint regularly, first and most important!
• Developed a better newsletter format
• Wrote and submitted publicity for the Artist Colony
• Donated generously to the Friends of the Fakahatchee during the Artist Colony’s April “Give Back” month. Thank you for strong purchases that month!
• Donated a painting to Marco Island’s Micky’s sailing program, and gift certificates to other charities I support.
• Hosted the Montessori school visit to the Artist Colony
• Developed and taught two new full and successful classes
• Developed a website for the Artist Colony at Fine Art Studios Online, where I have my own website
• Transferred my mailing list and learned to use Constant Contact, a professional email service, and grew that list.
• Read several books learning about art and the art world
• Helped conceive and create Arts Afire!, a city-wide celebration of arts and culture to be presented by the City of Marco Island in 2011, and developed an awards program and a website for this program.
• Continued guiding the Artist Colony at the Esplanade into its second year
• Blogged regularly
• Developed a Face Book fan page
• Tweeted regularly

But I didn’t do so well on my “intentions” for the coming year. Here’s a look at my “intended” list:

My intentions for 2010 – and how I did

  • Paint least one larger painting a month - did about six
  • Improve technical skills with study and classes - did mostly through books and Internet learning, need to do more hands-on
  • Meet some influential people - (need to identify why this is important!) -did a bit on Internet and City - need to try harder
  • Finish cataloging sold paintings – incomplete, only half done, may need help
  • Improve newsletter – done, now sent quarterly, but may re-think
  • Visit more shows-galleries - did some, could do better
  • Work better with decorators - didn’t initiate anything new, but did work effectively with current
So while I was pleased with the some of the things I had accomplished, I didn’t necessarily move forward in ways I had planned. So I’ll try a little differently in 2011. First, I’ve broken my painting list into the parts that are important to me, including In the Studio, Collector Relations, Teaching, Traditional Marketing, Internet Marketing, and the Arts Community. I’ll share my goals in each of these subjects as we go into the New Year.

Wishing you a year filled with hope and joy!
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