Joan Cole | Deep River, Connecticut USA
Joan Cole has been fascinated with color since age five when she stood at the family piano bench, dissolving construction paper in Skippy jars of water, then mixing and remixing the results. Those “watercolors” of her childhood were the beginning of her life-long experimentation in visual arts.
At age eight, for the centerpiece of the dining room table, she created a miniature landscape in a gallon mayonnaise jar, complete with mosses, sticks, and the occasional green garden snake or praying mantis.
Not till she had graduated from college and began teaching high school English was Cole able to begin more formal pursuit of her art studies. She took her first oil painting class at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in her hometown--Springfield, Massachusetts—not far from the home of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) of Mulberry Street fame. She has been pursuing her art education ever since while teaching and raising her family.
As a young mother, she learned to make collagraphic prints from her neighbor and friend Lucy Mueller White. Joan got most of her inspiration from Mother Nature, using a variety of dried plants and insects to create her plates. Although Lucy cautioned Joan never to attach anything thicker than a dime to her print-making plates, Joan pushed the limits of plate thickness. After a fishing expedition to Lake Champlain with her family, Cole returned with a plate fashioned from the tails of Northern Pike. Needless to say, Lucy was not pleased, since some of the tailbones were considerably thicker than a stack of dimes. Although the print from that plate never won any awards (which others had), they did manage to run it through Lucy’s press without ripping the well soaked Arches paper. To this day, her son, Jeff, still displays one of those framed prints in his home.
Today, Cole is at her happiest painting in oils en plein air, as the French would say (or outdoors, to us in America). You’ll find her on her front porch, in a field, or by the roadside, decked out in a broad-brimmed hat and dressed in a mismatched layer of paint-covered clothing. In winter, Mukluks and diving gloves are de rigueur. The rest of the year, she sports latex gloves. She looks forward to painting on location whenever she and her husband, Roger, travel.
Joan and her husband have lived in Deep River, Connecticut, since 1980. She is an associate member of these local art associations: Clinton, Essex, Lyme, and Madison.