Joanna Read is the featured artist on our upcoming series, Illumination. Be sure to RSVP to the event on Facebook at this link!
Joanna is a heart-led artist, coach, writer, and yoga teacher who dreams of a consciously interconnected, harmonious world. Her mission is to inspire and connect individuals with their inner worlds and build stronger communities through adventure, creative expression, and connection with nature.
Follow her at @joannaeread or visit joannaread.com to learn more.
My journey with silk painting has been an illumination of the heart, mind, and soul. I first discovered this magical medium after graduating from Umass Amherst in 2007 on the Chancellor’s scholarship for art, at my first real “job”, working in events organization for the Rockport Art Association in my hometown on the North Shore. It was here where I connected with artist member Judith Goetemann, and first was introduced to the idea of painting on silk. Her paintings were vibrant, thoughtful, meticulously rendered expressions inspired by the natural world. Her demeanor was warm, and whenever she spoke about her work, her eyes would light up. I was drawn to her youthful spirit, her enthusiasm for the unique challenges the medium presented, and, most of all, her humility and genuine kindness towards others.
One summer Saturday, wandering around the Rocky Neck artist colony, I happened upon Judith’s studio, and to my delight, she invited me in for a tour. Her work space, overlooking Gloucester Harbor, reminded me of a science lab: lined with glass jars of colored dyes; piles of swatches neatly stacked. She explained to me how silk painters work with different types of resists to manipulate the flow of the dye. Her eyes twinkled as she spoke of the magical process of watching the lifelike dye travel across the shimmering fabric.
Judy shared with me how silk painting helped her develop a high-degree of patience, focus, concentration, and non-attachment to her work. These were all concepts I was learning about in yoga practice. It felt illuminating to discover how silk painting was another form of yoga - a moving meditation of color, gesture, and fluid, mindful awareness.
Visiting Judy’s studio made me realize how hungry I was to once again expose my mind to new creative endeavors, exploration, and learning, and I picked up silk painting as soon as my loans were paid off. It was a welcome reprise to return to creative work after years of juggling 4 jobs. Many days I would begin my work day in the dark, and end my day gazing out across the moonlit sea. I drew so much inspiration from the hundreds of sunrises and sunsets that I was blessed to witness while I worked.
Returning from my studio tour filled with inspiration, I scoured the internet for the few-available books and tutorials I could find, ordered some supplies, and dove in head first into educating myself, mostly by trial and (a lot of) error. I was instantly captivated by how the fluid dyes would react and respond to the elements of air, water, and heat. Colors beginning with mysteriously deep, dark tones would dry in various gradients and hues, and become richly vibrant again after carefully and meticulously exposing the silk to a combination of heat, parchment, steam, and time.
Within my first year of mastering the craft, I launched a business for my silk painting: creating an online store, teaching classes, and exhibiting work locally. My practice and methods with silk mirrored my inner world, changing and evolving as I found my way in the world.
I’m returning back to silk painting now after taking the last half-decade years to focus on other aspects of my [he]art, and it’s exciting to feel like I’m in such a rich place of creative integration.
I’ve had this vision of silk painting to chamber music ever since my days working in the art gallery. Every now and then, we’d collaborate with the Rockport chamber music festival, and my imagination would light up as melodies and rhythms translated into colors and gestures that I could visualize in my mind and feel into with my heart. It is a humbling privilege, and miraculous dream come true to be co creating an inspiring moment in time with Aurora, and all who receive the energy of the work.