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


Long on Memory daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Long on Memory, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 6"6"

My dad was a veteran of World War II, and every Memorial Day a small flag is placed on his grave by the local veteran's organization.  He wasn't killed in the war, but did die young, and the sight of a flag on any veteran's grave makes me appreciate, once again, the sacrifices that young men and women made and still make for our freedom. 

As a child, on the evening before Memorial Day students in my neighborhood would gather up bunches of lilacs and march from the school to a nearby Veteran's Monument by the river for a service of remembrance.  The lilacs grew wild in abundance then, and the smell of them still reminds me of those evenings and placing my flowers around the edge of the monument at the end of the program. 

Here on Marco, Veterans place flags all along the median on Collier Blvd. It's a simple gesture, but one that makes us remember the solemness of the holiday as we go about our boating and family picnics.  A groundbreaking for a memorial in Veteran's Park was held recently.  The memorial will become the center of our collective memory of service-related loss here on the island.

If you are a Veteran or our armed services, or still serving, thank you for your service.  I'm very grateful for your sacrifice. 


Pond View, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 7"x5"
I'm experimenting with texture these days, and love the way the palette knife leaves bits of color below the surface, adding interest to the canvas.  There's something freeing about the way the knife will pick up and lay down colors, not always doing what I expect.  

In time, I'll gain skill with the knife.  But as I gain skill, the freshness and surprise will be lost.  It's almost impossible to gain mastery and still have the delight of surprise.  Too bad.


Tonight's the Night! QR Code, Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Do you know what this is?  You may have seen them in newspapers or magazines, even on posters, and not known exactly what they are. 

It's a QR code!  They are much like a bar code, and you can " read" it with your smart phone.  Smart phones are all the new phones, not just iphones, that can browse the web with ease. 

This one will take you to my website.  Try it--Check out my Everglades art!  Just point the phone at the image on your screen and click.  Pretty neat, huh? 

I've already got one on display in the studio, so you can reach me if I'm not there when you visit.  I'll be putting it in all my new promotional materials for a while.  There's even newer technology coming out soon, that will be even faster and easier to use.  Wow!

Try it with your smart phone when you come to Art Walk tonight!  If you need one for your website, you can get it at Kaywa or Quikqr.  They can be used for test messages, too!

TONIGHT's the night for the Artist Colony at the Esplanade ArtWalk, held the last Wednesday of every month from 5-8 p.m.  Hope you can come!


Periphyton, Anyone? Daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Periphyton, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on panel, 5"x7"

A few weeks ago on a visit to Shark Valley, one of the rangers searched out a clump of periphyton in order to show to visitors, and to explain its importance to the Everglades environment.  Periphyton looks like a clump of light-colored peat, but in reality houses a tiny community containing  a complex mix of algae, bacteria, fungus, microbes, and invertebrate animals. 

In wetland areas like the everglades periphyton attaches to subsurface detritus, plants, and rocks under the surface of the water.  It sometimes floats as a mat.  Periphyton serves as an important food source for small animal and plants.

Periphyton is an  ideal indicator of water quality since it is easy to sample and has a fast response to change in water quality.  They are also important to keeping water quality good, since they will hang on to pollutants.  Periophyton is one of the indicators researchers will watch closely to monitor the effects of Everglades restoration efforts. 

So the next time you're in the Everglades and pick up a bit of earth/peat/detritus from the water or edge, it could be a whole colony of microscopic life you're holding! 


Selfish! At the Shore daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

At the Shore, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on panel, 5"x7"

It's easy to find articles about how we're going backwards in Everglades protection and our environment in Tallahassee right now.  There's Fred Grimm in the Miami Herald, Craig Pittman in the St Petersburg Times, an article in the News-Press, and plenty more more articles about us going backwards in environmental thought if you care to take a look

Don't our Governor and legislators know that the Everglades are needed to ensure fresh water and healthy waterways into the future and that our economy is dependent on people visiting our unique environment right now?    Don't they know that by refusing to balance out our needs with the needs of the earth our country is falling behind both in thinking and technology?

Why can't our species, smart as we are, find ways to protect the environment that nurtures all of us, and to find ways to share our space with other species who may contribute in ways we're only begining to understand. 


Organizing your day, Near the Water daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Near the Water, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on board, 5"x7", Sold

It's frustrating when things take twice as long as they should, especially when you have scheduled only half the time.  Here's how I try to keep up with all that has to be done

A friend gave me a set of three note pads, titled Today, Soon, and Someday.  Thinking of my day in these terms has really helped me to put what I need to get done in proper perspective.  Priority is Today, of course.  Living in the now.  I'm a painter, so I try to spend no more than two hours a day at my desk, then I'm off to the studio, either at home or at the Esplanade.

What must be done, or can I do Today, at my desk, that will promote my artistic goals and maintain my client relationships?  In those two hours I can get a blog post or two ready to go, write thank you notes, read an educational blog, answer important emails, update my inventory list, or update my website.

Anything I have to do that can't get done my time frame goes on my Soon list.  If I have time,  I can watch a video or podcast, work on my quarterly newsletter, or write a press release for the Artist Colony.  By keeping the Soon list, if I have extra time Today, there's already a list for me to work from.   Anything that stays on the soon list for too long will move to Today, on a Monday morning when I'll spend extra time if necessary to catch up.  Business bookkeeping often goes from the Today list to the Soon list and back again.

The Someday pad reminds me that there's always something to work on.  Someday isn't my dream list, but a list of things i want to accomplish when there's extra time.  It might be researching a new technique or piece of studio equipment, developing the format for a new class, or redoing my website or blog design.  Things stay on the Someday list until they are no longer important to me or I have done them Today!

How do you organize your day?


Apple Snail daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Apple Snail, 2011, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on cradled panel, 5"x5"

The apple snail is the main source of food for the endangered Snail Kite.  The kites have a sharp beak adapted for eaily removing the snails from their shels. 

The snails live in and on the water most of the year.  They prefer wetland grasses that they can climb rather than lily pond vegetation, and climp up onto sawgrass and low hanging branches in April and May to lay their eggs in large white clusters.  

The largest of the Florida snails, not much more is known about the life cycle of Apple Snails except that they are considered a bellweather species for Everglades restoration.  They don't do well if the water is too low, but if they are thriving, there's enough water but not too much, the water is clean enough, the birds are fed, and the natural cycles of the Everglades are healthy.  


Kite Runner Flying High, Snail Kite, daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Snail Kite, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on cradled panel, 5"x5"
It was wonderful to see not one, but two Snail Kites flying low over the open prairie on a recent visit to the Everglades.  The small, dark blue-grey hawks with red talons flashed patches of white as they flew searching for apple snails.

The snail kite was so endangered in the mid-sixties that it was estimated that only 100 pair remained in Florida.  Now, in recovery as a species, there are over 3500.  Still, rare enough to delight when seen.   

The Apple snail, practically the only source of food for snail kites, is a brownish colored snail that lives both on land and water.  It’s the largest North American snail, and is also struggling for survival as a species.  It is hoped that as Everglades restoration continues, both the snails and the kites will flourish. 


Time for a Walk, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on board, 5"x7"
It's much quieter here on Marco Island now that the many January to Easter snowbirds have left.  The October to May group will leave around the first of June. 
Now that it's a little quieter, I'll have time for a walk.  I'll also have time to review, time to learn, time to read, time to love, and time to grow as an artist and person. 
I'm very grateful for a little extra time.  How about you?  What would you do if you could find a little more time? 


Preservation and Restoration, Dancing in the Sky painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Dancing in the Sky, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 12x16

As an artist the Everglades landscape continues to interest me.  I've come to know much of it, especially the areas closest to Marco Island, the Ten Thousand Islands, the Fakahatchee, and the Big Cypress. The light on the prairies, the marching palms and the dancing clouds have become dear to me. 

I worry about the threats to Everglades survival, and wonder if we're doing enough to save it.  It's a unique wetland, and the only one of its kind in the world.  In the last century, natural resources were exploited for their usefulness to humans.  As we mature as a species, we are beginning to recognize that there are limits to our resources, and that for our own health and survival we must preserve and protect  our worlds natural systems. 

As we begin to undo a hundred years of damage from forced controls of water flows, the world watches to see just how far we will go and how much we will spend to protect and preserve both our environment and our economy, and  is looking to see how we resolve the balance of needs.

There's been an ongoing legislative dance between stakeholders, public perception, and funds available for restoration. It's a dance for control, regulation, funding, and needs.  The line between restricting regulation and restoration regulation is still being defined. 

Florida is once again at a crossroads.  Please make sure that your legislators know where you stand.


Hints of Pink, Daily Painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Hints of Pink, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on board, 5"x 7"

I love the way nature interweaves light and color, texture and movement with the structure of a landscape.  The nature of the Everglades is almost always my theme, and it is the light and color of the amorphous order of their nature that concern me.  Being exact doesn't interest me, but more paring down the forms into their moods and recording their luminosity.
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