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


Dark and Suffering

The photo above is from a demonstration I did recently at my studio in the Esplanade. I tone all my canvases with a nice warm dark, usually a mix of dark red and blue, as soon as they arrive, and always have some toned canvases ready for the next painting.   My habit is to work from the dark canvas by blocking in the darks and working towards the light.

Other artists, especially in Florida, tone with a bright orange or red, feeling that the compliment will spark up all the green.  Other artists tone with a medium grey, and find that it's easy to see what's in light and shadow by starting in the middle.

I work back and forth, from the lights to the darks without worrying too much about anything but getting the feeling of the space until a composition begins to emerge.  From the darkness a plan emerges, once I'm satisfied with this rough block out I'll begin to add volume to the forms and develop a color strategy. 

Since daylight savings, I can't seem to get out of the dark.  I'm a morning person, and do my best working and thinking as the sun rises.  I feel for the late risers, who are probably more affected during the Fall switchback and delighted in spring, but find that daylight savings Daylight Savings Time has thrown me completely off my regular schedule. It's worse as I age, too. 

Even though it's been more than a week, I'm still suffering.  After waking naturally to gently lengthening days, having a sudden shift back to the dark is like waking up in a dark pit.  I find myself sluggish and slow thinking for hours. 

The health benefits of Daylight savings are mixed, providing more sunlight hours for exercise and outdoor activities, but possibly the cause for a rise in suicide rates and heart attacks right after the changeover.  It's time we got back to our natural rhythms! 

With so many serious problems in the world to worry about, this is a small one.  But I'm just saying, how's a person to solve them if half of the solvers can't wake up?


Happy Little Trees Studio said...

So, I'm still curious why you tone so dark? I tone with gray or any midtone (sometimes pink). I've never really worked with such a dark tone. Just curious why, or how you started doing that.

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

My first painting instructor taught me to do it to get over the fear of a white canvas, and to provide a unity to the painting. I like the symbolism of working to the light, so I continue. Here in Fl, some artists tone bright red or orange to balance the greens and get a nice glow.

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