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


Dancing on the Beach, daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Dancing on the Beach, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 5" x 7"

A change of season always has me sorting and cleaning out, Today it was brushes--something I've sadly neglected for years.  Today, when the first three brushes I picked up were totally unusable because of dried paint or destroyed bristles, I knew it was time.  

Acrylic paint is pretty hard on painting brushes.  I use mostly hog bristle.  They stand in water while painting continues until the water needs changing.  Keeping the water level below the ferrule to try and prolong the life of the brush means that its fairly frequent--at least a couple of times in a morning of painting. 

A through cleaning means to take most of the paint off with a paper towel, rinse under running water while separating the bristles, and then brush in my hand with a mild liquid detergent until the water runs clean.   Despite this, paint tends to linger in the bristles near the ferrule until the near end of the brush is stiff with paint and only the tips have any spring.  Sometimes they get worn down until the brush has a point where one was not intended.  The manufactured bristles usually splay out, and the loose ends can leave bits of paint in all the wrong places.  

So, I sorted, and sorted until I had a nice pile of usable brushes, and a very large pile of "others." Sadly, the rejects are still on the shelf--just in case I should need a really stiff brush someday!   Happy Fall!  


Fall, and Way Out There, daily painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Way Out There, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on canvas, 12" x 12"

By September, we've had enough of the rains and high humidity, and I long for the crisp blue-sky days and colorful maples and oaks of a New England fall. When my sister was in Hawaii  and I was still in New England, I would send her fall leaves ironed between two sheets of wax paper, so she wouldn't forget her roots!  

In the northeast, the bright yellow-greens of spring transition into the rich, full, permanent greens of summer and gradually fade to the olive greens of fall.  Some years the trees sport magnificent riots of color for weeks, depending on the timing of rain and wind and other factors of weather.  From all reports, this year will be a good one for fall color.   

Here in south Florida, nature is beginning to respond to the cycle of changing light and moisture in much more subtle ways. In the Everglades, the lush greens of summer will slowly fade to the golds of autumn, and then to the pinkish-purplish-grays of the dry season.  Yes, you will see purple way out there.  

Greens are always a challenge to a landscape painter.  We need to be able to vary them to show a variety of  plant life and also distance.  Permanent green is not my favorite color. but I've been given a few tubes by a friend who no longer paints.  I'm getting better at using it by mixing with various reds to make some nice greens.  Still, I'll give a tube of permanent green to the first artist who comes into my studio and asks for it!  


Sweet Beach Walk, daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Sweet Beach Walk, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Oil on board, 5"x 7"

How many of you who live here on Marco Island hardly ever go to the beach.  It used to be something I did without fail, three times a week, usually at sunset.  Somehow over the years I've gotten out of the habit.  These days its a treat!

Quite a few years ago I wrote a post about the benefits of a walk on the beach.  Yes, there are actual health benefits.  If you missed it, you can read it here.

Last week I did it, took an hour and just enjoyed a beautiful walk on the beach.  I came away vowing to do it more often.  Maybe I'll see you there!


Quiet Sundown, daily painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Quiet Sundown, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
oil on board, 8"x 8"

Today's painting is the companion piece to the one shown here.  They are framed alike and would make a nice pair.  

I thought you might like to know how I spend a typical day at the Esplanade.  I'm there every Wed-Friday, 10-5 and Saturday's until 2.  Usually, I paint most of the day and save the business responsibilities, like bookkeeping, promotion, newsletter, blog, for home, There's also fitting in visits to the Everglades--a necessity for me to keep my ties to nature and painting inspiration strong. 

Yesterday was a typical studio/gallery day.  I started by moving a few things around, to better show some of the work that didn't have the best light.  Despite my best efforts, the light in the studio/gallery remains a challenge!  As I did that,  I realized that I didn't have many paintings in the 20x24 size, and if I started a new one that's the size it should be.  I got out my photos, and decided what to paint, and thought about how what I've seen in nature recently might be incorporated.  

My preference is to work between two or three paintings at a time.  Each stage requires a different type of skill/concentration, and I seem to get the best results by changing from one to another fairly frequently  I pre-coat all my canvases, so always have several ready.  I got to work on a new painting, developing a strong block-out.  My paintings are usually at their best at the early-mid stage, awful in the middle, and then finished up by working to express the same excitement I felt at the beginning. 

When I reached a good stopping point on the new painting, I went back to a painting I had been working on last week.  The second painting has been a struggle from the start.  While it had some nice areas, the whole composition was just  not coming together.  Assessing it again, I saw that the problems were insurmountable, I had lost my direction.  It had to go completely or get a new, stronger start.  As I was covering it with fresh paint, a pattern began to develop and I could see a potential Everglades scene developing.  I had nothing to loose by going along.  A few hours later it still needed more work, but had much more potential than the prior effort. 

That filled the morning and more.  After a late lunch I went back to the first painting I had started this morning.  After working on the morning painting again, I did some framing.  

All this, of course, is working around the people who wander in.  It is, after all, a working studio/gallery so visitors are very much welcome.  In fact I very much enjoy my visitors and am sometimes pleasantly surprised with how well I can paint while distracted!  I'll try to get both paintings up on my Facebook page tomorrow. 


Peaceful, daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Peaceful, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn,
acrylic on board,  8" x 8"

The photo for this one is a little dark, even though it's a fairly moody painting.  It's acrylic, but done in an oil style, meaning that I used a little more paint than I usually do, and there's a bit of texture to it.  We've had such gorgeous sunsets and sunrises lately, and this one shows the sun setting with light on the water.  It's got a companion piece that I'll post soon. 


Palm and Flowers, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
oil on board, 6"x 8' 

Yes, oil!  Acrylics are my favorite medium, but I'm doing a few oil paintings this month just to keep my hand in. It helps me to have some understanding of oil painters who occasionally take my classes.  I'll do a few watercolors, too. 

It's good to change mediums occasionally just to expand the range of techniques. Seems to open up the art mind a little, too.  Try something different today, just for the fun of it! 


Hibiscus, daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Hibiscus, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 7"x 5"

I love their trumpet shape of hibiscus and the wonderful combinations of color in the multiple varieties.  They are perfect to tuck a bloom behind your ear when you are feeling tropical or to enjoy in a petite vase on your dressing table for morning ablutions.  This one is from a plant in my back yard.  I've added the background--and if I am patient, will have more greenery surrounding my small plant in the future.

Alas, the blooms are fleeting, lasting only a day. 


You are My Sunshine, daily painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

You Are My Sunshine, 2015, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 5" x 7"

First of September!

It won't be fall for a while here on Marco Island, but the turn of the calendar portents the change of season to come.  It's been a hot, hot, summer, with a sufficient amount of rain to refresh the Everglades waterflow and to make us humans long for drier weather.  The sunsets and sunrises have been spectacular this year, one of the best years I can remember for pure drama in the skies.

With the Marriott closed and Starbucks moved, the Esplanade has been particularly quiet. September should be another quiet month, barring the excitement of a tropical storm or hurricane but traffic will slowly increase. It's a cycle that those of us who live here have come to expect.

Artists need time alone to refine their ideas. Summer is a good time for me to paint large, and for contemplating painting, too.  It's a time to try new materials, try out new ideas, and to develop techniques.   I'm very appreciative of the time I've had this summer to do just that.

Doesn't mean I don't miss you. You Are My Sunshine!

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