All about the inspiration behind the art. Acrylic Paintings, Impressionism, Art, Southern, Modern, Contemporary, Coastal, Flowers, Famous Places, New Orleans, Florida, Gulf Coast, Food, Expressionism, Fauve, Cityscapes, Architecture, Decor, Painting, Beach, Tropical, Seascape, Landscape, Still Life Mona Vivar Fine Art: 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Watching for the Comet in 2013

Here we are at the end of 2012.  NASA says that we may have a great comet viewing year in 2013, especially with Comet ISON.  There may be others during the year as well. 

I will be looking at the night skies.  In order to hail this new bright year, I painted the harbor lights of Charleston, South Carolina.  I figured it was a fitting year end image.  It also signals a new direction for me to explore during 2013 in my painting journey. 

So cheers to the changing of the year.  Happy New Year to all!

And good night Charleston...

Mona Vivar, "Charleston Lights", Acrylic on Canvas

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pushed to the Edge of Fiscal Cliff and all I can do is talk about pineapples

My latest daily painting is the Pineapple Fountain in Charleston's Waterfront Park.  Since this week's theme has been Charleston, South Carolina images, I thought the Pineapple Fountain would be appropriate to add to the mix even though it is a new (2005) addition to the city's architecture.  This fountain does indeed resemble a pineapple.  It is part of the lovely view of the Cooper River.  I was happy to learn that in 2007 the park was awarded the Landmark Award for landscape architecture completed between 15 and 50 years ago.

So there's a little bit of knowledge for the day and here's my rendition of the fountain.

Mona Vivar, "Sunny Pineapple Fountain, acrylic on canvas

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Senators Work All Weekend, Meanwhile I Dream of Charleston

This week I am continuing my impressionist series of Charleston, South Carolina scenes of lush gardens, historic homes, and beautiful old churches.  I am doing a painting a day to challenge myself.  Then I list them on Ebay.  So, like the senators, I am working away behind the scenes! Enjoy.

 Mona Vivar, First Scots Presbyterian, Acrylic on Canvas
Mona Vivar, Summer in Charleston, Acrylic on Canvas Panel

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snow Storms Make Me an Armchair Traveler to Charleston

Forget flying or driving or otherwise traveling in snow storms.  I am cozy in Alabama, but today I wanted to paint one of my top tourist destination cities, Charleston, South Carolina.  I can't resist the historical homes and churches.  So without leaving my studio, I painted Broad Street.  Enjoy!

Mona Vivar, "Broad Street Towards St. Michael's", acrylic on canvas

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just In Case the Mayan End is Near

This post is more of a wish for all of you as the year winds down and you get caught up in the holiday rush.  Slow down.  Hug a loved one.  Cuddle your favorite pet (or someone else's favorite pet). Breathe in and out s-l-o-w-l-y.  Sit still in a quiet place.

This past weekend I was able to go stroll on the beach and enjoyed a beautiful silver-grey afternoon of scuttling clouds, rolling waves and wheeling gulls.  A few other people were taking in the off-season beach.  There was a sense of serenity.  Everything was right at that moment.  I took some photos to share with you.

I wish for you the peace which goes beyond all understanding

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Impressionist Green and Red with Bonnard for Christmas

This week I bravely started painting a large (30 inches by 40 inches) canvas.  The subject is the interior of a quaint bed and breakfast in Carrabelle, Florida where I stayed during one of my many Florida wanderings.  I want to emphasize color and abstraction while keeping the picture recognizable for what it is.  The painting master I selected to help me with this task is Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867 -1947).  Bonnard's paintings are filled with color and often feature interior settings.  As you can in his painting below, he used complementary colors for visual sizzle.  The subject, a basket of fruit, is recognizable, but somehow it is almost flattened against the background.  Colors seem to melt into one another.  Beautiful!

 Pierre Bonnard, Fruit Basket, oil on canvas
Keeping some of these ideas in mind, I have begun my own complementary color (green and red) painting.  I am keeping the interior and the objects in it almost flattened to the picture plane.  The image below is my first stage which is mainly about object placement and blocking in color.  I am not finished with the piece of course, but am very excited about how it is shaping up.  Be sure to follow my progress in my next post. 
Mona Vivar, (unfinished work in progress) Interior with Ceramic Elephant, 30" x 40" 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No Fiscal Cliff Here, Just Cezanne's Landscapes

As the fiscal cliff political wrangling heats up I continue to climb my own mountains at the easel.  The great artist leading the way for me today is Paul Cezanne.  There is nothing like Cezanne's beautiful Mont Sainte Victoire landscapes with their strong brush strokes and deft handling of delicate blues, greens and yellows.  His landscapes shimmer and yet delineate a strong sense of place.

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte Victoire Seen from les Lauves
I worked some of Cezanne's concepts into my favorite scene at St. Augustine, the Bridge of Lions.  I emphasized brush work, particularly in the sky and used the thematic blue, green and creamy yellow throughout the painting.  I think Cezanne was very helpful with my Florida favorite.
Mona Vivar, Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine, acrylic on canvas 8" x 10"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I missed seeing Bigfoot while I was studying night skies with Van Gogh

I am currently exploring impressionism with several of the master painters of that genre.  Last week I worked through a few of Monet's ideas.  This week I painted a night scene using Van Gogh's creative imagery.  I am fascinated with Van Gogh's use of saturated colors and rich brush strokes.  He painted a number of night scenes, and I chose to study his painting of the night sky over the Rhone river in Arles, France.

Vincent Van Gogh, "Starry Night Over the Rhone"
Van Gogh's painting is truly magnificent with those dazzling yellows and blues.  I am especially drawn to the lighter section of sky in the middle of the painting.  I love his whimsical stars!
I applied the things I liked best in Van Gogh's painting to my favorite scene of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine.  I used similar colors, brush strokes and, of course, those funny little stars.
Mona Vivar, "Starry Night St. Augustine", acrylic on canvas
I have a lot to learn from the great artists.  Each exploration helps me develop my skill and point of view.  Next week, I work with Cezanne.  Meanwhile, what's all the hoopla in the news about Bigfoot?  I haven't seen one lately.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oops, it's almost Thanksgiving. Blame the Masters of Impressionism!

Oops.  I let more than a week pass since my last post and suddenly realized that it is almost Thanksgiving. Well, I have a good excuse.  I was working with Masters of Impressionism on honing my painting skills.   I mean that I take lessons from those long-dead artists from time to time to increase my own abilities and fine tune my eye for color.

First, there is Claude Monet.   He and I worked on a painting of the Lightner Museum (located in St. Augustine, Florida).  Monet did a series of wonderful paintings focused on hourly views of the Rouen Cathedral in Paris, France in the late 1800's.  I decided that I had much to learn from his series and applied his ideas to the Lightner Museum.

Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral
That was Monet's great piece of art (one of many).  I used that painting as inspiration for my favorite view of the Lighter Museum tower.  I focused on complimentary colors of purple, blue, yellow and orange to create a shimmer of sunlight and shadow.  I also tried to lose the hard lines of the building by softening the edges with color shifts rather than hard line.  You know, that "fuzzy" look that the greatest impressionist images have....
 Lightner Museum, Mona Vivar, acrylic on panel

Well it's not Monet, but I learned a lot just imagining he was by the easel urging me along.  I really did lose track of time.  I had a great experience.

Next post will explore Van Gogh's techniques.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Painting inspiration of the state parks

As an artist, I am always looking for images that spark an interest in me.  Most of the time all I have to do is look around my own locale, but if I want to challenge myself to go deep with thematic imagery, I visit a state park.  There are many that are within a few hours drive that provide unique painting opportunities.

One of my very favorite haunts is Wakulla State Park and Lodge just south of Tallahassee, Florida.
The Lodge is beautiful and historical with only 27 guest rooms and a stellar dining room, but the real treat is outside in the deep, mysterious water of the spring that the Lodge faces.  The spring is clean and full of wildlife.  There are fish, wading birds, ducks, alligators (lots of alligators) and manatees.  All can be seen from the shore, but the best viewing can be had from one of the boats run by the knowledgeable river guides.  It is a magical place that brings much peace and provides endless painting inspiration.

Manatee drifting in the spring
Grandeur of the spring
My interpretation of sunset on the spring
I invite you to visit your closest state park and see what nature has to offer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What White Christmas?

I live in the South and spend a lot of time in Florida dedicating my painting time to those familiar images.  Meanwhile, all the latest magazines are arriving full of images of jack-o-lantern pumpkins, roasted turkey dinners and snowy winter scenes.  Stores are full of sparkly Christmas ornaments and brightly lit fir trees.  I adore bright and sparkly, but the White Christmas image escapes me.

There are paths to grandmother's house (as it says in the song) but the paths I know go through pine trees and palmettos.

We have deer, but they don't know about sleighs and tend to be hard to find.

We don't have partridges in pear trees, but we do have ibises in mangrove swamps.

No snowy fir trees, but lots of sunlit cabbage palms and live oaks.

So I relish my familiar sights and live among them.  I have seen one or two white Christmases in years past by travel to colder climates, but these days the only way I expect to see snow at Christmas is in my dreams.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Studio space in home remodel chaos

I am learning the benefits of keeping my studio set up flexible while in the middle of remodeling the house.  The good part of having a studio in a space that will be remodeled is that it doesn't matter where the accidents happen.  The bad part of having a studio in a post-remodeled space is that it does matter where the accidents happen.  Here are some pointers for all you home studio artists and crafters working in less than ideal conditions:

1.  Keep furnishings easy to move. 

This is at the end of a long, narrow great room.  Furnishings have wheels wherever possible.  Lights are all multi-directional.  Easel is lightweight but sturdy.  I put protective rubber interlocking matting on the floor to spare our new wood floor.  The cushioned matting spares my back too.  The matting is from Home Depot and goes by the name "Best Step".  It comes in packages of four interlocking pieces of two feet by two feet.
2.  Simple is better.
I need lights, easel, paints, canvas and my computer.  This is my corner where I have lightweight shelving units (easy to move).  I use my laptop to display my photos as needed for painting references.  You can see a spare piece of interlocking rubber floor matting behind the easel.
 This is my table for still life setups or when I need a flat surface.  I protect the table from paint with a plastic tablecloth from Dollar General.  More storage area is under the table.
3. Take advantage of vertical space.
This is a long wall in the same room that will be painted as we progress with the remodeling.  Right now I can put all the nails I want into it so I use it to display my work.  Seeing everything up is both inspirational and a great way to keep paintings out of harms' way.
 Here is another view.  This area serves also serves as our living room.  I can change the display easily, and the wall is a great conversation piece.
4. Be patient.  Most good things take time.
I invite you to post your favorite home studio tips.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fanning Springs State Park, Florida

I am a huge fan of Florida's State Parks. This past week I visited Fanning Springs and was awed by it's beautiful arching oaks and sturdy cabbage palms. Big mullets were cruising the clear spring. The park was quiet with only a couple of families swimming and sunning.  Here are a few of the photos for you to enjoy. Be on the look out for paintings to come....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Persimmon Trees in the South

Every year in September the Persimmon trees surprise me with their bright orange fruit.  Driving along I see these trees in what seems like every other yard, around old buildings, randomly near fences and in fields.  The rest of the year they are gnarled leafy innocuous parts of the landscape, but this time of the year they are lush and glorious and not to be ignored.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

I hope that you are able to rest and relax this Labor Day.  This holiday reminds me of the vacation places I have visited.  St. Augustine, Florida comes to mind with it's old landmarks and quiet seaside presence.  Enjoy your day!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hurricane Season

Hurricane Isaac has finally drifted away leaving only minor debris in the area.  We were lucky this round.  The sky has been gray for days on end, and I long for sharp-edged shadows and bright splashes of sunlight across open fields.  Those days will come with September. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday with Tikis

It's Sunday afternoon and I started a blog for the first time.  I have been painting a series of Tikis and a series of tropical drink paintings.  They are a great theme for the beachside images developing on my Etsy and Fine Art America sites.  See them all at: and

Until next time, cheers to life with the Tikis!