Name: joanne gervais
Bio: Joanne Gervais’ artwork is a delicate and striking balance of composition and depiction, all having an organic essence flowing through. This is the result of decades of training in life drawing and painting. Her deft use of colour and texture solidified by her training in the classical arts and now influenced by the hard edges of contemporary painting, combine to create a recognizable style.
Joanne depicts subjects as diverse as portraits, abstracts, sports and landscapes, using all media but favouring oils, pastels, and mixed media. When Joanne is asked about her fine art career, she describes an unusual journey from initial training in the Fine Crafts which included the study of textiles, pottery, jewellery, woodworking, silkscreen printing, fashion tailoring & design which included theory of colour, drawing and painting. Later she studied oil painting, cartooning, advertising, portraiture and artist pastel.
It has taken years of dedication to become an established artist, and Joanne expects that the latter half of her career will bring forth works of greater skill, increased sensitivity, and a greater understanding of the process of creativity and what it means to create “painterly works”.
Joanne wants her artwork to benefit the world around her in a positive, albeit small, way. That is the greatest motivation that she needs to continue the long lonely days that a professional artist experiences in the quest of creating the masterpieces that one hopes will leave some sort of mark or influence in the world that one lives in.
Story: TITLE : SOCIETY INCLUDES US ALL by artist JOANNE GERVAIS SIZE 66.75 x 32"
200lb Waterford Saunders cold press wc paper
underpainting nupastels & Richeson semi hard
midground Unison, Holbein
highlights & darks Unison, Sennelier, Schmincke Richeson soft
The story of the triptych "My Society Includes Us All" “Beggar’s Bowl” “Someone’s Child”
This work was intended as one piece, but circumstances led to the creation of three pieces which work in harmony & separately to bring awareness to youth despair, emotional crisis, street kids, homelessness, depression, loss, isolation.
The works have been used to assist Youth Shelters, Food Programs, In from the Cold, Addition Issues, and Mental Illness
Reproductions have been given as gifts to speakers, troubled youth, counselors, donors. Some decorate the walls of hospitals, offices of CEOs, clinics, food trucks, and schools. Mothers have bought the works remembering their troubled child.
“My Society Includes Us All” was titled by my husband, a teacher who has seen his share of troubled teens needing compassion, understanding, patience, help. The inspiration for this whole work began when I noticed a street kid huddled in an alley. With her permission I painted her the same day we met. It was initially hung at the local library. When I returned later there was a woman crying on the library steps. I asked if she needed help. No, she said, I just saw a painting which has brought memories of my daughter’s traumatic years. That was my first real experience as to the power of art. A few weeks later I received a call from parents in a desperate search for their daughter. I was heartbroken as I told them that I was certain that the girl in the painting was not their daughter. Eventually it was sold to a wealthy couple. The underprivileged community was upset that the work did not remain in their circle, but it needed to be amongst people who were unaware of the message it represented.
This demand led to a second work which needed its own inspiration & fortune came my way the day I met the young woman with the green army jacket begging on the sidewalk. She kindly agreed to be painted and the second piece “Beggar’s Bowl” was created. The background had a cave like look to it, and it was perfect for tucking in such a vulnerable young person. The veiled, delicate figure in the My Society piece was obscured by some of the background much as her despair obscured life around her. The young person in Beggar’s bowl is more prominent, and the bowl shows an effort to live. This piece shows how important a title can be. Most viewers look at the painting and form a quick judgement. When they read the title, they all look at the painting again to see this bowl. Their final reaction generally has changed, influenced by the title.
One day upon arrival to my gallery where this work was hanging, staff came running and insisted I immediately read what one of the street kids wrote in my guest book. Summary of this quote “…..I wish to thank you for creating these works of us forgotten kids, who are stepped on, spit on, sworn at.. it is important that people realize we are “Someone’s Child”. My works were not just appreciated, but seemed to be needed. This was an incredible message and an incredible title and inspired the final piece. It was the first time that I created a work to fit a title. The first two images were being used by multiple organizations, and a third was needed quickly. A search for a model began again. A young woman was a model for my Portrait & Figure Artists Group. She posed one day with her street clothes, and she had the right gesture, look and understanding of what was needed for the final. She posed long enough for me to create “Someone’s Child” which has the least look of a street kid, but the closest to any parent’s troubled teenager look. She truly depicted the anguish expressed in the message written, Someone’s Child.
My sister felt threatened by the street kids and would avoid the downtown area where they typically hung out. She only saw toughness, chains hanging from ripped jeans, gaunt looking faces with staring, demanding eyes. She did not see the humanity or the fear or the vulnerability. The society works changed her, and many others, impressions of these kids. It was an amazing transformation to see. Art can be so much more than pretty paintings, art can move people.
These works suited pastel perfectly with its spontaneity, ease of broken colour, velvet texture contrasting with the flatness of the background watercolour. The vibrancy was made possible with the soft Senneliers , schmincke, & Richesons intensified by the depth of colour from the Unison dark set. It is not just artistically well done but art that works towards educating people, increasing awareness, bridging opposing worlds, and most importantly creating empathy.
Unfortunately, the series of originals were separated and sold individually. Reproductions are still doing their work in society.
Joanne Gervais, professional visual artist. Studio works at www.joannegervais.com live event sketching on FB & Instagram