Joan Metcalf-Oils with metal leaf

Aspen Glow diptych
Shimmering Aspens
Iris Garden
Catching the Light
Twists and Turns
Night Fall
Black Butte Aspens

About the Artist:

I’ve always been intrigued with nature’s high drama…crashing waves against a rocky coast, a display of colored leaves in autumn, and especially, the many shapes and colors of flowers and leaves.

My paintings of large-scale florals, gardens, and landscapes all reflect my fascination with the lush images provided by the natural bounty in the Pacific Northwest. Rivers glimpsed through trees, mountains, forests, gardens and koi ponds are all painted with an emphasis on bursts of color flowing across the composition. I think that my interest in larger work started early when I was studying art at the University of Washington.  Most of my art teachers were exhibiting artists who painted large and encouraged their students to do the same.  I was soon very comfortable in covering a large white space and it became even more enjoyable when I started painting landscapes and gardens.

I received my B.A. in painting from the University of Washington in 1960 and have been painting professionally and exhibiting my work in Northwest galleries since then.

My mediums have included oils, watercolors, acrylics, and mixed media pieces with bas-relief wood carvings. My painting techniques have changed and evolved over the years and currently I am painting with oils and metal leaf. Always respectful and inspired by the Rimpa tradition, I have explored different applications of composition metal leaf to intensify its shimmering effect. These form a background for my images of trees, gardens and grape vines with ever-changing reflections.

Since I prefer painting large canvases, much of my work is collected by corporations and institutions for their boardroom, reception area and lobby. My paintings are in numerous private and public collections, internationally, nationally, and locally, including Nike, Reser’s Fine Foods, Boise Cascade, Tektronix, Inc. plus several financial institutions and many hospitals.

The idea started small.  I was standing in an aspen grove photographing the trees and enjoying the sun on the golden leaves and listening to the whispering sound of the leaves in the breeze when I wondered how I could portray that feeling in my paintings.  I looked at the leaves and saw the shimmering, glinting light and thought – “GOLD”!

I had always been intrigued with painters who used gold leaf in their paintings, but had never pursued it.  When I did, I discovered that 25  5″ x 5″ sheets of 22ct gold leaf cost about the same as 500 sheets of an alloy composed of 88% copper and 12% zinc that has the appearance of gold.  The “silver” composition is 100% aluminum.  If I wanted to explore the process I didn’t want to be restricted to small amounts.

That was a good decision since I was soon to find out how many bits of the metal leaf floated onto my studio floor as I worked, and the freedom of using as much of the leaf as I wanted, expanded my creative ideas.

There were a lot of experiments and challenges – the greatest being how to photograph the paintings without the reflections appearing as white rather than gold and silver.  Another surprise was that the silver acted as a mirror and reflected the colors of my clothes as I worked.  The good surprise was how my studio started to glow with light from the paintings, inspiring me to use even greater amounts of the metal leaf.

Since I’ve started painting oil and metal leaf, my compositions have changed in that I don’t need to create an illusion of distance in the painting.  I realized that I could cut the metal leaf squares in smaller proportions for the smaller format and get the same look as the larger paintings.  This concept made the conversion to smaller canvases so much easier.  

*Visit the Artist’s website HERE 
*Visit Joan’s Blog page HERE   
*Current Feature @ Lawrence Gallery
*Other Artwork in the Portland Art Museum’s Rental Sales Gallery