Joanna Blair is an artist of extraordinary versatility with a profound sensitivity and skill for capturing a moment of time; its atmosphere, energy, movement, mood and more, through a masterly range of techniques and use of colour.
A self-confessed maverick and a frustrated child prodigy, Australian born Blair has a life-long love of painting and recalls at the age of five being spellbound at seeing an artist at work and experiencing an overwhelming desire to do the same. Aged 13 she secretly (even unbeknown to her parents) submitted here work to a local art college and was accepted; that was until she was found to be underage.
Blair’s artistic genes probably originate from her maternal great grandfather who was Head of the Art Department for Melbourne’s Princes Theatre and while her parents were supportive and admiring of her artistic skills they and her school teachers encouraged her to choose a profession with a regular income. This she did, becoming a very successful nurse but once established she felt the need for an artistic outlet and resumed her painting.
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds, The Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, admiring an artwork by Joanna Blair with Curator Peter Gagliardi
Eschewing formal art courses or university Blair tried being mentored in turn by two private tutors, but after the initial flurry of excited discovery grew frustrated ‘at not being able to freely develop my own style.’ Her obvious fertile brain was brimming with images, brush strokes and colours begging to be put on canvas but straight-jacketed by this restrictive tutor Blair rebelled against being made to conform to ideas that didn’t appeal or resonate and certainly didn’t inspire and feed her imagination. This may have falsely convinced her that becoming a professional artist was a foolhardy move but equally Blair felt she had had her fill of illness and death and grew restless for an artistic outlet that would also keep her solvent. Inspired by an Oscar winner for Best Makeup Artist she suddenly decided to literally paint people for a living and today owns a highly successful School of Makeup business. Blair enjoys this immensely but even here she has to conform to the needs of clients therefore finally she wants to develop her art and ‘only paint what is appealing to me!’
Consequently, Blair relies strictly and, with incredible diversity of wholly accomplished style, on painting from her heart. A modest and unassuming person, she claims that little comes from her head but of course there lies this vivid imagination. Blair regards her heart as unleashing an enormous, creative force, awakening in her a whole new world; ‘Where time becomes non-existent and colour and life overtake me, breathing onto my canvas, so the painting feels to me as though it has a spirit of its own and never fails to delight me with what will unfold….each painting unrepeatable, each painting telling its own story.’
Although Blair has a love of the impressionists, especially the father of that movement, Monet, as well as Gustav Klimt and Giovanni Boldini she is not a slave to any particular style or subject. She occasionally paints from life and outside but prefers the solitude and cathartic atmosphere of her own studio with no distractions. There she may use outlines and sketches for reference but often these are obliterated during the creative process, allowing the work to take its own course through her imagination and preference for strong colour and thick paint to create the rhythm and atmosphere of each piece, a technique with astonishing results and deserving of an international audience.