"It is the rapture of color that awes me time and time again. It is not one color, although Cadmium Red Light makes my heart skip a beat, it is a color next to another, next to another, next to another that keeps me hyper-focused. Especially when painting the botanicals, I zone in on these tiny specks of color. All those specks seem very necessary to create the whole."
- Joan Becker
An embryonic idea insinuates itself, a painting is born. Sometimes an idea appears out of the blue, other times it is observed. Everyday activities, past experiences, daydreams, literature, music and art feed a thought. Nursing visual notes – possibilities are sketched, models are drawn, colors are tested, and art museums and books are visited.
The work begins – the original idea changes and grows. Before my eyes, an image forms as pencil and paint are applied to support. This application of materials is very exciting. Often, new decisions and revisions re-form the painting. A struggle may ensue between the painting and me giving the image a life of its own that has nothing in common with the original idea. When complete, a painting is successful if it expresses my point of view and, at the same time, has broader appeal.
The finished piece is a testament to my effort to produce a unique “thing.” The process is exhilarating for sure, however, it is the desire to create that pushes me into the process and, in the end, it is created for both of us: you, the viewer, and me, the painter.
What is the relationship between a viewer and a painting? The viewer decides if he or she wants to linger and connect with a work of art. There can be great satisfaction in savoring the visual feast of a painting. A painting may evoke a better understanding of our own interior – encourage travel to field and forest, imagined and abstract lands, and soulful eyes. A cherished painting becomes a beloved member of our family.
The more we engage with different styles and schools of painting, the more we grow in our understanding of artistic expression. Paintings build off one another. What seemed foreign to us in the past may be understandable and enjoyable today. Contemplation, disciplined looking, and reading about art and artists broadens our vision and offers richness to our lives.
A final observation – Van Gogh’s, A Starry Night at The Modern is one of the most recognized and popular paintings in the world. It portrays a pure and simple idea, a beautiful sky over a nestled-in town. The painting is a wonderful visual journey inviting many interpretations. And, in the end, all painters are viewers of others and their own work; together we enter a painting to find answers to our most personal and universal questions.
"There can be great satisfaction in savoring the visual feast of a painting. A painting may evoke a better understanding of our own interior – encourage travel to field and forest, imagined and abstract lands, and soulful eyes. A cherished painting becomes a beloved member of our family."
- Joan Becker
Joan Becker explores her favorite subjects - botanical arrangements, domestic interiors and eccentrically dressed characters relaxing in her studio. Viewed as a whole, each painting conveys a mood, a snapshot, a moment in time, but close inspection reveals Becker's attention to detail; each shape within the larger work takes on a unique identity, color and character. Tiny worlds unfold as micro-narratives within the larger picture, each passage providing an exhilarating pattern of color and shape. Becker's process is additive: one color or form inspiring the next sequence of artistic moves. The artist finally arrives at a complex work formed by her incremental decisions; the whole united by splashes of saturated colors that stretch across the entirety of each painting.
The studio interiors convey a similar mood as objects, models, and settings bow to the whim of the artist as she composes and transforms an ordinary scene into an adventure of extraordinary detail and endless energy. No matter the subject, Becker's exuberant paintings provide a long-lasting engagement for the viewer as visual surprises are uncovered and enjoyed.
In Autumn Walk, the celebration of the fall season is almost pungent, evoking the spicy smells and crisp fall air associated with this time of year. Seasonal plant matter weaves together in various stages of growth and decline. Stems zigzag across the picture plane, while leaves and flower heads stretch and droop with theatrical gesture.
From an early age, Joan Becker was exposed to a love of art and nature. Her father, a painter, introduced her to drawing tools and to observational figure drawing. While in high school, Becker modeled for life classes and worked as a draftswoman for the state of New York. At the same time, her home in upstate New York afforded her the opportunity to explore the beauty of the open fields and woods. These experiences, along with many museum visits, paved her way to Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.
After graduation, Joan joined the Fairmount Park Commission where she oversaw the environmental centers - an array of historic houses, and special facilities such as the Fairmount Water Works and Japanese House and Garden. Her interest in environmental concerns led her to a career in this field with Weston Technologies, which she left eighteen years ago to enroll at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Returning to the passion and inspiration of her youth, Becker creates large observational figure drawings of models in her studio and botanicals which pay homage to her childhood. Watercolor, gouache, and drawing on paper are her chosen materials.
Until recently, Becker taught advanced painting at Main Line Art Center. She has been with GMG for over twelve years where she has had five one-person shows - most recently in the fall of 2020. Becker has won awards for her large scale paintings and received attention in many books and magazines. Currently, her work is in the winter issue of Catamaran, a California literary and art publication.