We had the good fortune of connecting with Joan Maureen Collins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joan Maureen, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
Leap and the net will appear. -John Burroughs. I jump into my paintings like they are the water – holding my breath, but I’m all in. I always know that something will show up on the canvas that is authentic, energized and pure in spirit. This has been my approach to painting and my art business. When asked, I say yes. When an opportunity looks interesting I grab it. I learned a lesson early on that saying no leads to nothing. It’s that simple . Leaping or saying yes leads to other yes’s and endless possibilities.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Working to help restore and preserve mother earth has been my profession and mission for the last 20 years and that extends to showing its beauty through my paintings. There are four broad aspects of my art life and business: looking; enjoying my process; showing up; and giving back.
Living in Arizona I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sense of scale and space. I live and paint in my studio, in the heart of the vibrant Scottsdale Quarter where there’s tension between the rush of energy yet expansive calm. This is ever present in my life and artwork. I like to share this visually through energized abstract landscapes from local and global wanderings.
[Enjoying My Process]
I love to create abstract designs. But they are always grounded and inspired by natural and urban landscapes. In nature, it’s all the layers that give depth, texture and beauty. I try to mimic this in my work only much, much faster and can do this with acrylic paints. But paint medium is not all that is important to my process. It’s the marks I make in the paint that share my story. Natural elements find their way to my hand, suitcase, home and studio. I make many of my own brushes for effect using feathers, ropes, springs, wire, driftwood, pine needles and other desert, beach, and urban findings. And each canvas begins with a pass of a feather that’s been dipped in ink. No one ever sees this because it gets covered up of course, but it’s an essential part of my process.
As an artist I had to get over myself and the vulnerability that comes with sharing work, and selling it. It’s a bit like skinny dipping; thrilling and vulnerably revealing at the same time. When I started out, I had this limiting belief that creativity is finite. I’ve learned since it’s absolutely not. Every artist has an infinite spring that keeps producing and even better – evolving.
[Giving Back & Community]
A key ingredient to curating an inspired art life is giving back to community. As part of this service, I donate my art to one to two local art auctions each year benefiting several wonderful causes such as Free Arts, Art from the Heart Auction, an art-based non-profit to benefit and encourage art in children from abusive environments. In 2019/2020 I was part of the Loaned Artwork program at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. It brought me such a good feeling to think that perhaps, even if for one patient, my artwork brought a sense of peace. I also designed a series of art sessions titled “Strength in Women,” for women housed in a Phoenix based women’s shelter (2012-2013). Seeing these women working with all kinds of medium to express deeply impacted me. I’m also working harder at bringing people in the community into my art world as well as sparking creativity in others. I just started sharing stories from some amazing individuals in their own voice with a podcast called “Art Unsurfaced,” now available on Spotify. I’m hoping people will get a different perspective in this podcast, as I and others reveal aspects of the art experience in that can’t be seen on the canvas. Each episode breaks through the exterior of art told with unique stories.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Where do I begin – it’s an endless list but let’s narrow in with a top 5. First on the list is a Sunset Safari. When the valley’s sky starts to get that pink cast my car aims for perfect spots to watch the sunset. Three favorites come to mind. Urban sunsets off of Camelback Mountain looking out from high watching the city lights come up; Gateway Trailhead off of Thompson Peak, Spur Cross and the Boulders in North Scottsdale close to Carefree. If going to the Boulders, it’s great to sneak in an afternoon at their spa. Which leads me to the second on my list – spas! Paradise Valley and Scottsdale are loaded with spa options. If of the mindset to indulge, my favorites are Boulders, Omni, Phoenician, and Sanctuary Camelback. Third on my list is hiking. Pick a trailhead in Carefree, Cave Creek, Scottsdale or Phoenix and you can’t go wrong. And of course Sedona hiking as a day trip is amazing. Fourth is a day of art/culture. Start with Cattletrack, lunch at the Heard in Phoenix, then Phoenix Art Museum, coffee, snack and art at the FoundRE, back to old town Scottsdale to some of the galleries like Udinotti, Art One, and Wilde Myer. and home for martinis on the balcony looking at the view that inspires. Fifth (but not final except for the sake of this article) cocktails and music. Maricopa is full of super cool and fun places to have a cocktail and listen to live music. Wow I love this city!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As an artist there’s an entire eco-system of support from family, friends, businesses and organizations who champion and support me. Those that come right to mind are people like Kenny Miller, Stephanie Stickford and the singers of Helios Vocal Ensemble who provided an artist residency for me. Elaine Kessler, Photographer (Gilbert, AZ), PR assists from experts like Kyra Stickford (San Diego, CA), and perfection from my favorite framer at Hall of Frames, Barron in the Scottsdale Summit. Getting involved in the artist community is also a growing part of my art life. Lauren Edgar of Artists in Arizona has provided not only a wonderful platform to gain visibility but also coaching, which is a wonderful way to guide my leaps.
Other: Art Unsurfaced Podcast on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3Yx4VWwm6xa3QGotghvJMm