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April 2008

The Indisputable Creative Advantage of Older Artists

When I owned my business, there was a rule everyone accepted: If you survived five years, you were successful.  Try to get credit, or open an account , and you could hear the tension:  how long have you  been in business?  Always followed by relief when told five, ten, or eighteen years.  Time, it seemed, was the primary predictor of success.

According to AGING, CREATIVITY, AND ART, A Positive Perspective on Late-Life Development, by Martin S. Lindauer,  this rule holds true for artists, too.

I discussed Lindauer's findings in an earlier post titled The Seven Characteristics that Distinguish Older Artists over their Younger Peers, and I wanted to follow up with more encouraging conclusions.

The statistics Lindauer used were gathered by art historians looking at artists from the past who had created masterpieces.  The data included working lifespan, when masterpieces were created in relation to death, and reflected activity from the past few centuries.  A second data set included women,  and finding artists working closer to the modern age, the last 100 years or so. Earlier assumptions about creativity being a "young man's game" had been based on research flawed in Lindauer's opinion, because it revealed that artists "peaked" in their late 20's or 30's, without considering lifespan (most of the artists died in their late 40's or very early 50's).  When research expanded to include artists with longer lifespans, something interesting emerged.

"Bursts of creative activity varied for 45 well-known artists; peaks were found in nearly every decade of their lives: in youth, middle-age, and old age.  Despite differences between individual artists, creative output generally occurred relatively later in life than earlier; and creative productivity continued into old age in nearly all cases.  Youth is therefore not the only or even the predominant period in which creative productivity was maximized (pp 123)."

I like that: "Youth is therefore not the only or even predominant period in which creative productivity is maximized."

So youth is not a pre-condition to becoming a successful artist.

But the amount of time spent creating art is.

And what does this mean for the Ancient Artist?

The older you are, the longer you've been painting.

And the longer you paint, the better you get.


Imagine.  What could you do if you knew that you had at least one "peak" ahead of you, and if you exercise and eat right, there's the possibility of two?

I'm heading to the kitchen right now for some  broccoli to eat with my coffee.

Here are some interesting sites mined from my bookmarks. 

Creative Aging's Blog

edward_ winkleman

New York Art News

My Conversations with Slump

I have not been writing much this week.  In fact, I have been torturing myself with thoughts that I must be blocked, or perhaps the "slump" subject that has been moving around from blog to blog has settled down in mine and set up housekeeping for the duration. 

"Why are you here?" I've been asking Slump. "Aren't you really depression in disguise?"

I mean, depression is a great excuse.  I could whine (or whatever.)  I could open that new bottle of wine and drink it by myself, waving my glass to the beat of the jazz CD I always listen to when I'm in that mood.  I could stare at some of my recent paintings and wonder aloud why no one is interested in buying them when they really are damn good.  I could remember that I've been reading Eckhart Tolle, and when he talks about shedding the egoic nature and returning to the nothingness my head starts to ache, and then my neck. 

I guess that's what happens when you get a little information.

And I've been thinking a lot about how a little information can actually send you off on the wrong track.  Or around the bend.  Off the deep end.  Into get my drift.  Questions like the reason we're here are too deep for this blog.  What I do know, or think I know, is that my internal experience, when I am painting, comes the closest to what I imagine Eckhart Tolle might be talking about when he speaks of the awareness of Being, outside of the ego.  I have no idea whether what I experience even comes close to what the spiritual teachers believe.  Might I be reckless enough to ask, "Should it matter?" 

Artists are very familiar with the experience of being "in the zone." Of finding yourself in a place where there is a connection between canvas, brush, hand, mind, heart, and perhaps something else.  Ego is not present in those moments.  Ego only comes into the room when the moment is past, when the painting is drying, or the words written in last week's post have been passed around from blog to blog.  When the action has been taken and cannot be recalled, and Ego is ready to inject emotion, insecurity, defensiveness, and self-inflicted pain along with his best pals Slump and Depression.

Should it matter that I struggle with ego, when -- in the moment that I complete a painting -- there is great inner peace? 

I'm going to need a lot more information. 

"So why are you still here?"  I ask, watching as Slump hands the bowl of chips over to Depression, who passes because he hasn't been able to eat for days.

I see their mouths moving.  Slump can't seem to get comfortable.  Ego has launched into what could be a tirade as his face is turning red. But I can't hear them. 

I don't know.  Maybe I've made a little progress toward Enlightenment. 

Maybe I'm going deaf.

Like I said, a little information can really be a dangerous thing. 

Sunday Salon: Sitting Down with Wassily Kandinsky

Today I am sitting down with Wassily Kandinsky...not the Kandinsky...did you think I was that Ancient?  No, I'm sitting down with his pioneering book Concerning The Spiritual In Art, first published in 1914 under the title The Art of Spiritual Harmony, and this is a Sunday Salon with a new twist.  Salons need to be more than a two-person conversation: the interviews are fabulous and I love doing them.  But I can't get to everyone and I want to expand the conversation.  So every now and then I plan on shaking things up a bit and I hope that a lot of you will join in and add your thoughts and comments.

So...the introduction of Kandinsky's first group of essays, titled "About General Aesthetic," reads thus:

"Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions.  It follows that each period of culture produces an art of its own which can never be repeated."

And my philosophical question open for discussion is this:

How do you think our growing cultural dependency upon technology, such as the internet, and the instantaneous consumption of visual media, influences the art of our age?  How does it influence you in the choices you make as an artist?

I'm pouring a cup of coffee right now and I'm looking forward to tons of comments when I get back...

Have You Discovered Your Hidden Support System?

I spent most of yesterday gathering up the courage to call my photographer and set an appointment to bring in the ten new works on paper that I've been staring at for the past few months.  When I finally called, he answered on the first ring.

Yes, he remembered me.  And how did those photographs he took a year and a half ago work out for me?

Very well, I politely told him, and could he possibly have some time today or tomorrow.

Yes. He could.  So I was stuck, committed.  I kept telling myself that all I was doing was getting professional shots taken of pieces that proved too difficult for me to shoot, with their reflective surfaces and subtle colors.  It wasn't like I had to follow through on anything else, like sending them off to that juried event with the deadline in two weeks.   

I do this to myself on a regular basis, I realize, having no legitimate reason to feel so insecure.  But that seems to be the nature of my particular creative beast.  Give me a compliment or accept me into some organization and immediately the tiny voice in my head starts crowing over the imminent discovery that I am, yes, an artistic fraud. 

But he is expecting me.  We have a nice visit, I leave the work with instructions to return today. 

What can I say?  The meeting today was wonderful. Not because he thought the work was so fantastic that he couldn't breathe -- no.  I think it was because he's also an artist, working on his own version of that creative dream.  We were two creatives meeting where our paths crossed, and paused to share a moment of encouragement and support.  He told me how he had started doing stock photography; his wife called while we were talking to share the news that one of his images had earned a "Flame."  (Apparently, when an image has been downloaded 100 times, it earns a flame.)  We talked about the art market in general and artists we both knew, how everyone was feeling the slowdown and looking for answers.  Then he sat me down in front of his computer and we collaborated on the presentation of my images, while he instructed me on some new tips and tricks in Photoshop, and how to save the files on my desktop.

When I left two hours later I couldn't understand why it had been so difficult for me to make that initial call.   

Creating art is often an isolating experience. At times, we might forget that others are feeling equally isolated.  Our fears keep us from opening up to the very people who understand exactly where we're coming from, and we miss opportunities to discover our hidden support systems.  Yes, there are scary parts to success and to failure that isolation magnifies,  but just beyond that studio door there are hundreds of hidden sources of creative support.  We are not on this journey alone. 

Believe it.

Sunday Salon: Sitting Down with Shanti Marie

SmedistoToday I am sitting down with Shanti Marie, a versatile artist I think you will enjoy.

Shanti, can you tell us about your artistic background?

As a child I liked painting but seldom had the opportunity.  I love music and wanted to sing or play an instrument when I grew up.  We were very poor and I never to the chance to learn to play an instrument till I was in college.  I always admired artists in general and loved to watch people draw or play music. I didn't have a lot of self-confidence and thought you had to be really good at drawing to be an artist, and I didn't really have drawing skills.  So when I went to college I became a fine arts major thinking perhaps I would be an art history teacher, or perhaps a music teacher

I've always liked teaching.  My last semester in college I was a fiber artist and was having a difficult time finding a job.  I decided to enroll in an additional 13-month business school education.  A newspaper hired me as a manager in the circulation department. I liked the job but still felt a strong desire to do creative projects.  I continued to play music with various groups, and I also sang in a couple of bands.

Like many people who have a creative passion and a full time job, every weekend, I found myself making things or doing creative things to fill this artistic void.  In 1986 I decided to teach myself watercolor, which I found interesting and I thought it would be easy.  I painted on weekends for years painting things for my own home and for family.  Raising a family and working was my life.  Art was my hobby.  I was the typical hardworking stressed out individual trying to find a few moments of painting time between all my other obligations.

In 1996 I decided to work part time and to try to develop my artistic side.  A few years later I decided it was time to promote my work and myself and to join various art groups in my area.  This helped me immensely and I cannot believe all those years I painted alone without any artist friends or support.  I found my art was getting better with their input.  I started to teach several students and later I gave classes for beginners.  This gave me confidence and also helped me in my own art.

I noticed that you use a variety of marketing services to promote the sale of your work: Flicker, Fine Art America,, Daily Painters Web Ring, Daily Painters Guild, and your own blogs...from a business stand point, how would you rank these services for effectiveness?Smpinkinprogress

Pink In Progress @ Shanti Marie

The best thing I have done for myself is my daily blog.  The key to making money on a blog is to post often and to give the customers (readers) some reason to come back and check on you, a lesson, an anecdote or just your own silly ramblings to let the readers know you're human and as an artist you struggle too.  On a blog you should give the information about each painting, the price, how to pay, and explain something about the painting, either the process, the problems or the motivation.  Everyone likes to know how an artist works so I take pictures of my work in progress, or I show my work area, my tools, or I write articles about various techniques.  It's more than a point of sales.

My connection with the daily painters group had been the most helpful, since they have a larger audience (5000 per day), and this helps drive traffic to my blog.  I have tried eBay, and many other avenues.  Some work, some don't.  I try things, I see if they work by trying them for a few months, then I either ditch them or keep them.  It's pretty simple, really.  I try to find web sites, which will drive traffic to my work.  There are folks who like my paintings and will buy if they can find me.  Flickr, photobucket, Google, and some of the other search engines bring folks to my blogs with key words and tags, so it's good to understand how these work.  I analyze my blog stats regularly to see what people are looking for and take this into consideration.

I rate daily painters as #1, the photo posting sites as #2 and eBay a distant third.  Then there are the link exchanges, and the others are just a drop in the bucket in terms of numbers.  I get tons of hits from Wordpress because they promote blogs within their own blogosphere.  I recently (within the last two weeks) closed down my eBay store: I have found the warmer months to be slow, the work is not worth the profits, and will reopen in the fall.

I think your koi paintings are fresh and full of movement.  I noticed that you experiment with clay board and watercolor canvas.  How do these surfaces help you express your creative voice?
Koi 23 @ Shanti Marie

I started painting on other surfaces for several reasons.  Probably the biggest reason was the simple fact that I've painted on paper for more than 20 years and wanted to branch out.  I've always liked experimentation and now that I'm confident of my painting skills, I wanted to see what else is out there for the watercolorist.  There is a lot of work in the area of watermedia, which is exciting and fresh and not limited by the traditional restriction of watercolor on paper.  Even our state (South Carolina) watercolor society changed their name to watermedia society and this made me realize that things are changing.

The South Carolina Watercolor Society has always been at the forefront of new artistic avenues and being a part of it was important to me.  I also found that sales of my paintings on clay board, canvas or gessoed masonite were selling for a higher price than the works on paper.  These surfaces are actually easier to paint on once you learn their limitations, and yet give the artist many ways to express an idea.  Without having to plan ahead, and the ability to correct mistakes easily, these surfaces help the artist be more in the moment.  It also allows the artist (especially the new artist) a certain amount of freedom that watercolor on paper can only do after many years of experience.

You wrote an insightful comment regarding the painting "Calmness," where you said, "I'm distilling scenes and not literally painting them."  Can you tell us more about this? How important do you think the Daily Painting process has been to your growth as an artist, and your ability to see the changes in your work?

Calmness @ Shanti Marie

The daily painting process has speeded up the natural learning process.  Most great painters will tell you the only difference between them and other painters may be the time spent with a brush in hand.  To some degree I have learned this is true.  It has also allowed me to determine what is important to me and thus has solidified my preferences for various techniques, materials, methods, palette and so on...this is basically one's style  When I say I'm distilling a scene, I mean that I do not even try to slavishly render a scene but I try to determine first the mood, then the emotional impact I'm trying to achieve, and the last, what is the one thing about the scene that attracted me.  I then try to paint a scene, which will convey those factors. It may look like the scene but usually it doesn't.  Often the colors will be exaggerated or completely changed.  Sometimes I will throw out everything that is not important to the message and will dramatize the area that I see as the focal point.

What I enjoy most when reading your blog posts is your openness about the artistic process.  In particular, can you tell us more about the story behind  "Evening Newsstand"? Why do you feel it's as important for an artist to "figure out what's wrong with a painting and make it right as it is to do it right from the start"?

Smevening_newsstand Evening Newsstand @ Shanti Marie

I think every painting is an opportunity to learn and to perfect your skills.  Only you can be honest with yourself.  The painting may be successful on one level and not on another.  If you can make these determinations as to what you would do differently next time, you almost don't have to paint the next one - the simple fact that you recognize the problem areas will help you on the next painting.  If you can plan your painting from the first step to the last, you may have a nice painting, but you are not allowing anything new or fresh to enter into the painting.  This interaction is usually what I encourage.  This process of exploration is exciting and what I love about painting.  I allow the piece to evolve and often it will be a better painting in many ways.  This is a personal preference, you have to decide how you want to work and this works for me.  The best part is...both types sell; there is an audience for both types of paintings.

"Evening Newsstand" is a perfect example of a painting that just evolved.  When I decided to paint this piece, I only decided I wanted a predominantly warm painting with some direct and exciting brushwork.  The rest just evolved, at the end, I looked at it, and decided it looked like a street newsstand scene.

What is the most surprising thing that you've discovered on your artistic journey?

Smrosessoft2 Roses Soft @ Shanti Marie

I had to learn to accept work as valuable even if it was an easy painting for me to paint.  I have always measured the value of a painting by the difficulty in the execution.  This no longer applies as I can paint things rather quickly and easily.  I have to remind myself it actually took 20 years plus 30 minutes to paint a painting, not just the 30 minutes.

You can see more of Shanti Marie's work by clicking on the following links:

Shanti Marie's World of Watercolor

A Painting a Day

Daily Painters Art Gallery

The Seven Characteristics that Distinguish Older Artists over their Younger Peers

I went back to college when I was 51.  I sat in chairs designed for the young, next to my fellow students who were also...well, young.  Adding insult to injury, I needed tutoring -- from the young -- to learn the new technology that these kids in their late teens and twenties grew up with and used as casually as I once used the rotary phone.

It was culture shock.  But more than that.  It was the shock of realizing I was rapidly approaching the gray realm of Old Age.  My first small encounters with...ageism.

Ageism is insidious in that it is so acceptable.  Logical.  It is also based -- at least with regard to late-life creativity -- on scientific research that reinforces traditional views about aging and the mental and physical decline models.

Even when it comes to "creativity" -- something that can't be touched, tested, or accurately measured, let alone understood --  the scientific community  still relies on research that is "objective" and "measurable" -- sort of like trying to catch a fish with your hands.  The easiest one to grab becomes the archetype for the "Creative Old Guy."

But I recently started reading a book by Martin S. Lindauer, titled AGING, CREATIVITY, AND ART, A Positive Perspective on Late-Life Development.

This is a very recent book, with a copyright date of 2003, and reads like a research paper with numerous citations.

It is still worth the effort.

Because here is the good news.  According to Lindauer,  new research reveals that over time, creative people increase both the quality of their artistic output, and the quantity, over their lifetimes, with productivity peaking during their 60's, but the quality of the output remaining steady at the lifetime highs well into the 70's.

Even for artists working in their 80's, their quality ratings were higher -- get that, higher! -- than when  they were in their 20's and 30's.

How can this be?   

According to Lindauer, there are seven characteristics that distinguish "old artists and late art from young artists and youthful efforts." 

  • "Older artists have more knowledge and are less career oriented.
  • "They also have less energy - the only case where older artists were at a disadvantage to younger ones..."
  • "...which they compensated for with greater maturity, concentration, and self-acceptance."
  • "Older artists were also less critical than their younger counterparts."
  • "However, in two areas, creativity and experimentation, older artists were seen as equal to younger practitioners." (2003, pp.187-188)

Further, while discussing the age at which an artist's "Old Age Style" might emerge, Lindauer wrote, "...the 60-year-old artists, and many of the 70-year-olds who were studied, were 'too young' to have an old-age style."

Re-read that last part again: even the 70-year-olds were too young to have an old age style!

Sometimes the challenges of reinventing yourself at mid-life can seem so daunting that you want to give up.  I know that for me, discouragement became my constant companion to the point where I nearly gave up on the whole "career" idea, caught up in my fear of having "missed the creative boat."

But knowing that, at 60, I am still decades away from having an "Old Age Style" has renewed my energy, sending me back out into the creative world with rekindled optimism.

I hope to see  you all there!


Sunday Salon:Sitting down with Jo-Ann Sanborn

The Myth of the Artist can take loom so large that it often seems impossible to grasp.  How will we ever get there?  Is it even possible in this modern age?  And yet artists are living productive, fantastic lives every day and in every manner.  This is what I find so compelling about these Sunday Salons -- reading, in the artists' own words, how they are making their artistic dreams reality and realizing that each and every one of us can accomplish the same things. 

Today it is my great pleasure to sit down with Jo-Ann Sanborn, an extremely talented artist living on Marco Island in South Florida. 

Jo-Ann, you once told me, "I'm sixty, and although I always had a painting going, it took a move to Florida in my late forties and responding to my love, the Everglades, to call myself an artist."  For many people, this is often an intimidating step to label themselves as "artists."  What do you think was the turning point for you, when you realized you could have a successful artistic career?

I've always had a painting going since I was very young. I studied art seriously in my 20's taking "foundation" classes part time while I raised kids, and studied with other painters.  I've had the basics, and taken some great workshops over time, but life took me other places before painting came first.  When I moved to Florida I fell in love with the landscape and it became my muse and my mission.  I began to paint every day and to sell my work.

When the first painting I showed publicly in Florida sold, I was elated, but still didn't think of myself as a real artist.  I was working hard but without a degree I worried about credibility.  Only after I received a "Best in Show" award did I have the confidence to call myself an artist.  I'm teaching now and that helps me feel professional too.

Success is many things to many people.  To me it is when someone tells me that I have opened their eyes to the beauty and mystery of the Everglades.  What more could an artist want than to change the way someone sees something!  It is also rewarding for me when someone wants to purchase one of my paintings.  To me, each and every sale means that my work touched someone enough for them to want to live with it and I'm very honored by this.

Your recent blog entry invited your clients to visit your studio by boat: "Call ahead, and I'll give you directions from the Jolley Bridge. You can pull up to the dock, have a cool drink on the patio and come into the studio and see my newest work!" How exotic and romantic, I can see the clients lined up right now, and I want to join them!  What is essential for you in your studio?  Can you tell us a little about the way you have arranged the space and how you work?Jsdecember_morning_w

December Morning @ Jo-Ann Sanborn

So far, no takers on the boat visit!  My husband and I live on beautiful Marco Island, truly a paradise.  It's a small, densely populated island, but just a few miles away you can be in complete wilderness.  Much of the island is built on a series of man-made canals, and we are fortunate to have one of these in our backyard.  My second bedroom studio is on the water side, and for light we've added a sliding door leading to an outdoor patio.  If I'm in the studio and hear a splash I'll hurry out to see what's going on.  Sometimes it might be a school of fish, a dolphin or a manatee swimming by.  And the sunsets are fantastic.

As far as equipment, we've converted the closet with shelves for my supplies, and I've hung a see-through plastic shoe bag over the back of the door for my paint supply.  My large easel is in the middle of the room, with a "microwave cart" for my palette, water, and other equipment.  There's also a futon couch, because the room doubles as a guest room when the grandkids come to visit.  We do a number of outdoor shows in the season, so I'm always dragging stuff in and out.  I do most of my larger work in the summer when it's quiet here.

There's a bulletin board with lots of bits of everything.  Posted are things that catch my eye, postcards or pictures from other artists, one to remind me to be colorful, another to remind me to be conscious of design, another with colors that rest the soul.  There are also things from friends, like two old ladies kicking up their heels as they head out for a swim, a nice piece of fabric and a small sign that says "Imagine".  There are words that I might cut out, things like "Truth not flair". You know, the things that you collect and are precious but maybe just only to you.  The paintings are floor to ceiling, too.  That's humbling because the longer they hang the more I realize each might be made just a little bit better, and I sometimes take one off the wall and add a touch of paint here and there.  Some days I long for more space and a larger studio, and other days wouldn't give it up for anything!

You draw your inspiration from a sense of place, your beloved Everglades.  For the novice painter, what would you tell them regarding finding an inspiration?  How important is it to discover an emotional connection to the subject of your work?

I feel a connection to the Everglades because they are a wonderful, mystical land that will show you some special delight of nature each time you visit.  This land is one of the valuable "systems" of our earth.  The water from the heavy summer rains move slowly to the gulf in all directions carrying nutrients to nourish the land and animals.  This river of slowly moving water is only inches above the coral rock base.  The mangrove fringes at the edges become the fish nursery for the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay, and to some extent the southern Atlantic.  Everything is prickly, bitey and hot and not very friendly to humans.  Environmentally this valuable land should be protected and left untouched, but the hand of man is everywhere.  I am one of the first artists since the legendary Highwaymen to interpret this landscape in a unique way.  It is my great pleasure when someone tells me they are seeing the Everglades in another way because of my paintings.

As far as inspiration, let your heart lead the way for you.  If you are open to it, your own inspiration will find you.  It's sort of like love, you can't force it.  If you are fortunate enough to have a subject choose you, go with it!  When you become intrigued with something, investigate it with your whole art spirit.  While technique and skill are important, an artist cannot do their best work when the emotional connection isn't there.

What is the appeal of plein air painting for you?

Jsback_country_e_2 Back Country @ Jo-Ann Sanborn

I spend a lot of time painting outside, and have learned so much from observation.  The land and the sky never disappoint with their beauty.  Familiarity with your subject is a necessary part of being a landscape artist, just like a portrait painter must come to know their subject for the best paintings.  Investigation and understanding are a part of any good relationship, and only when you go deeper than the first pass can you truly challenge yourself to express in another's voice.  It's a great privilege to speak for the land.

That said, sometimes I get lost in the reality of a scene and the painting suffers.  I'll often finish a plein air painting in the studio to be free enough to find the magic that originally drew me to that site.  Then again, too long in the studio and I must get back outside to see for myself what nature is offering!

I greatly admire the combination of color and composition that I see in your work  Can you describe the thinking process as you work out your ideas?  Where do you start?  How does the painting develop?

I start every painting on a canvas toned with a warm dark.  This takes all the fear out of a clean white surface and it's the way I was taught to begin forty years ago.  There is always something in the south Florida landscape just begging to be painted.  It could be the way the morning sky looks dressed in pinks or the way a palm shows itself yellow against a blue background.  I paint directly without drawing, and start by finding my darks, and then some lights, with very broad strokes and a large brush at first.  I work between the light and dark, building the painting almost like a sculpture.  It's intuitive at first, and takes me about 1/2 an hour "in the zone" to get the painting to emerge from the canvas in a very rough way.  This process of blocking in the major masses this way is called frottie or forttis.  I can usually tell at that time whether the painting will work compositionally or not, and if not, it's easy to wipe off and correct.  Then comes the modeling of the forms, determining where the light is coming from, ensuring its consistency, and providing the perspective that allows you to feel the space.  It's important that a strong sense of place emerges, that it is an exact place I can take you to.

Once this process is working well, I change my focus to the canvas itself and am no longer concerned with what is "out there," but more with what's on the surface of my canvas.  I adjust the "color conversation" happening on the canvas, and make any enhancements to the major forms.  My process is also a process of working to the light, and I love the symbolism of that.

You work in acrylic, and achieve a very painterly surface.  Do you have any favorite tricks for keeping your painted surfaces from drying too quickly?  Do you ever use other mediums, such as watercolor or oil?Jsrosey_glow_w
Rosey Glow @ Jo-Ann Sanborn

Acrylics are my medium of choice on a daily basis even with the challenges they present.  A few drops of Liquitex Flow Aid in my water and a Masterson Palette with a sponge in the bottom really help to keep the paint workable while outside in the breeze.  I use a water spray on the paints and sometimes on the canvas.  I paint very thinly, and almost dry brush, so the layers of color are built up slowly and gain a nice richness.  Generally I don't use mediums and additives, but will experiment from time to time.

Acrylics are a modern and environmentally safer medium, and will last without the yellowing and cracking that plague older oils.  We spent a month in a small Tuscan village a couple years ago and I took a selection of pastels and painted buildings.  A nice change, but I was happy to get back to the acrylics!


I met Jo-Ann on-line, through a Daily Painters discussion group.  I admired her work greatly, and when I put out a request for artists over the age of fifty to contact me, I was thrilled when she responded.

Don't you just love her turn of phrase..."adjust the color conversation"..."Truth not flair"..."things that are precious but maybe just to you"... In fact, all of the distinctive voices of the artists who have participated in these Sunday Salons have been such an inspiration to me, and I hope to others as well.  Thank you!

Jo-Ann's work has been featured on the covers of several magazines and on television.  She is a member of the National Association of Women Artists and Women Artist Professionals, as well as other arts organizations.  You can see more of her work at and , the website she shares with her sculptor husband, Robert Frettoloso.