My Creative Friend: Joanna

My creative friend, Joanna Cotter, is my co-worker at the museum. During the day we may be admin gals, fishing around in excel spreadsheets, but we share a longing and love for our art studios and creative work on nights and weekends. We'll catch each other now and then during lunch to talk about creative ideas, share opportunities, and to compare notes on the Indie Biz 2.0 class that we both took. We've also been known to write each other "pep talk" emails of encouragement to push forward in our creative and entrepreneurial pursuits.

{ Om Rhapsody - Dyes on flat crepe silk, 8" x 54" }

Joanna creates stunning hand-painted silk scarves and men's ties. The extensive, technical, and personal process that goes into each of her pieces is amazing. Like me, she loves to make custom pieces with someone particular in mind. My conversations with Joanna are always energizing - she simply loves to create, and each piece that she makes comes from her heart.

Here is some insight into her creative practice:

How did you get in to silk painting and what is your inspiration?
The beauty of nature and imagination are my biggest inspirations. In my former job at the Rockport Art Association, I became friends with an incredibly talented and accomplished artist named Judith Goetemann. I was so inspired by her elaborate, large-scale silk and batik paintings of florals and landscapes, and one day when I was visiting her gallery on Rocky Neck, she was kind enough to invite me up to her studio to show me her work space. It was such an enchanting experience for me to see all her dyes and swatches and brushes, and from the feeling I had standing in her studio I knew I NEEDED to give silk painting a try! She gave me some helpful tips on how I could get started and the next day I purchased a beginner's kit to paint my own silk scarf. After seeing the first stroke of paint travel throughout the silk with such a rich, brilliant color, I knew I was hooked!

How did/do you learn and improve your creative skills?
I have a BFA in painting, but have never taken a formal class on how to paint on silk. I taught myself a lot from reading tutorials on the Dharma Trading Company website, and I've learned a lot from Susan Louise Moyer's books. Additionally, I've made some amazing connections with talented silk painters from around the globe on the Silk Painting Network - it's the first resource I will turn to for advice, technical help, or to just share a new idea. To improve my creative skills, I'm trying to challenge myself to experiment with a new silk painting technique every week or so. I hope at some point to be able to take classes on everything from indigo dyeing to sewing to woodworking to stained glass to further expand my creative "tool box".

{ Dance of the Honeybee I - India ink, hand painted silk, wax on board, 12" x 12" }

When you work, do you most enjoy the process or the result? Why?
I’m just as interested in my process as I am with my end result. Working freehand is currently an important part of my practice because it connects me in a special way to my intuition. The flow of forming shapes, mixing colors, and applying dyes is a wonderfully meditative experience, and I hope to translate that joy in my work - so it inspires and uplifts others!

How do you make time for your creative practice?
I've made it a habit to make time for studio time most every day, even if it means sitting and sketching for 20 minutes after work or cleaning and organizing my workspace before I go to bed. Exercise and fresh air are important to me, and I've been using that time to meditate on new projects and ideas, jotting them down when I'm finished. Developing a creative practice, like exercise or just about anything else, can take some initial effort, but eventually it becomes habitual. You become what you repeatedly do.

What creative projects are on the horizon for you?
I'm really excited to continue exploring ways of combining my love for silk painting with some of my other artistic interests, such as pen & ink drawing and working with wax - as I've started to explore in my Honeybee series. It's such a thrill to be able to combine many of my different interests into one piece, never really knowing what the end result will look like! Working with all different media keeps me inspired.

Read more about Joanna's creative journey on her blog, Joy In My Studio, which doubles as a resource for anyone curious about the extensive process behind creating her work. You can also find her in person at The Hive Archive's gallery exhibitions and at local craft sales like Craftopia, the Spring Fling in Warren, RI, and the Providence Art Festival coming up on Saturday, June 12th in downtown Providence. And of course, at her desk in the offices of the museum, dreaming about her next project...

Carole Ann


  1. Thank you so much for featuring me as one of your creative friends! I am so happy to be friends with such a talented and driven young woman like yourself, and I love how we can share our dreams and goals, and feed off each other's enthusiasm for making art! Much love!

  2. Joanna, you do beautiful work and I loved hearing more about your passion for art. Your motivation and energy pours through you paintings. Wishing you continued creative exploration and silk painting adventures!

  3. hey joahnna,
    I really like your style, perhaps you might wanna check out this site as well, I just found this not too long ago - its http://tie-club.com just see if you like the collection


Related Posts with Thumbnails