Joan Dyer has always loved art, especially during high school. She drew a sketch once — she thinks it was of Bambi — in response to an ad she saw in the local newspaper. Draw a sketch and maybe get selected to go to art school. She threw her sketch in the trash, but someone in her family took it out and sent it in. One night she got a phone call with an invitation to attend an art school in Michigan.
And I thought, oh, no, I can’t. I can’t go way up there. I’m going to work for the telephone company. It was 1973 and I was graduating from high school. I think the phone company was more of my confidence level, you know. I thought, I’m not an artist and I don’t dare leave home to go all the way out there.Joan Dyer
Now in her late 60s, Joan says she never lost sight of her creative side and did lots of art-related projects over the years, but only recently got into painting.
I remember, maybe 30 years ago somebody trying to teach me how to paint leaves and flowers. I couldn’t do it, and said painting’s not for me, but a couple of years ago after watching YouTube videos and different art tutorials, I thought, I can do that. So, I put my mind to it and I started doing it.Joan
She started out with watercolors, but a coworker urged her to try acrylics.
She said, with watercolor, if you make a mistake, it could be a mess. If you go acrylics, you can change anything you want and keep revising it the way you want it to be. I listened to my coworker and went right into acrylics and I’ve been there ever since.Joan
Her dining room is her studio and in her hutch you’ll find bottles and tubes of paint and lots of brushes. Could be as many as 225 brushes. As for the paint, she likes to try out different brands. There’s always a difference.
It’s how the paints lay on the canvas. It’s how I can blend with them. Some of them look more authentic than others. You’ve also really got to know your color charts and what colors blend well with other colors..Joan
Joan’s teachers are other artists whose work she likes. She subscribes to about 30 different YouTube channels and is always on the lookout for more. Certain styles and subject matters jump out at her.
There’s always the sunset, the beautiful sunset on the ocean. I did so many of those and then I thought, I have to grow from this. So, then I developed the forest with a sunrise or a sunset with a stream. I want to get into incorporating a red barn and fields and animals and stuff like that. And I also want to learn how to do portraits.Joan
Watching hours of online videos and tutorials has not only inspired her, but also helps her learn new techniques and improve her work.
Right now that’s my goal. To get better at it because the way I started out a year ago it looked like a fifth grader did it. And as I’ve kept practicing and watching YouTube and then learning techniques, I feel as though I’ve gotten a little better at it. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at anything in life, right?Joan
Adding a painting practice to her life has changed how Joan views the world around her. One of the most noticeable changes, besides how her dining room looks, is that she sees things through different eyes. Eyes that notice colors and details everywhere.
If I see a skyline that I think is beautiful, I sit there and I think of how many shades of color I can see. And I think of how I’m going to mix them as I go. We went to North Conway and that’s all that went through my mind. I saw the white Mountains with the snow and it’s like, how would I paint that and what are my different colors and the shading and everything. That’s where my mind goes now when I see a lot of stuff.Joan
In November, she’s going to have a monthlong exhibit at Sullivan House Bakery in Gorham, Maine, so will be busy all summer and fall getting ready. It’s her biggest painting goal yet but she’s up for it. It will push her, she says.
She’s hoping that some of her pieces will sell at the show. She’s already sold about 20 paintings and also gets a lot of positive feedback, which can be worth it’s weight in gold when it comes to building self-confidence. How does she come up with a price for her work?
At first, I kept it low and then I started going up and up and up and people were still buying. People would say to me, Joan, you’re not charging nearly enough for this. I’ve even had people pay me more than what I asked for. Only a little more, but still. It does help with your confidence.
In addition to painting on canvas, Joan also paints and sells Christmas ornaments. Orders are already coming in for next Christmas.
Painting makes Joan happy. It also keeps her motivated and busy, and works her brain. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, she says, so you might as well do what you enjoy!