Freedom Art

Joan McLoughlin's art is contemporary and imaginative

When Joan McLoughlin starts creating a piece of artwork, she has no plan or end goal. In a way, the art creates itself as she freely paints.

McLoughlin is a Wilmington artist who works with acrylics and mixed media. Much of her art is characterized by abstracts filled with vibrant colors, as well as pieces that use photography in a new and unconventional way.

“As a child, while my siblings were roller skating and playing outside, I was drawing and coloring,” McLoughlin says. “I got my first camera, a Brownie Hawkeye, at a young age and recorded all family events and non-events too.”

While her love for art began at an early age, McLoughlin decided to pursue it full time later in her life.

“Years later, after my children graduated from college, I decided it was my turn,” McLoughlin says. “I never doubted that what I would study would be art. I loved the smell of the paint and the feel of the materials. I even built a darkroom in my basement. Since I liked painting and photography equally, I began to combine the two.”

In 2000, McLoughlin earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art and photography at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Her art can be found locally at her home studio, Eclipse Artisan Boutique, Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center, Art in Bloom Gallery, Gallery Citrine, and Custom Colors.

Some of her pieces will also be on display at Art in Bloom’s upcoming “2020: New Year; New Art” exhibit from January 24  through March 8.

WILMA: You work with acrylics and mixed media, how would you describe your artistic style?

McLoughlin: “My style is contemporary and imaginative. Flowers grow on my canvas. People are unidentifiable. I love color, especially purple! There is nothing that a little dash of purple won’t fix. I enjoy applying paint and other materials to the canvas and being surprised by the outcome.”

How do you find inspiration for the abstract, semi-abstract, and floral artwork that you create?

McLoughlin: “My inspiration comes from a variety of sources: a song, a color, a concept, a feeling, a line from a book. But, my work typically begins without a plan. As I begin painting, a song may pop into my mind, for instance, ‘Free Fallin.’ I will find the song on YouTube and play it while painting. The painting becomes my interpretation of the song and begins to have some direction.

Once while freely painting an abstract, organic floral-like shapes suddenly appeared. I worked with that and ended up with an abstract-floral. Naturally, I named it Suddenly.

Honey Soaked Wings (below) was inspired by a line in a novel I was reading one night. The next day, I made a beeline for my studio to paint it.

My photo transfer series was inspired by a Christmas card (below) that my sister sent me that contained a photo of me and my two sisters holding our treasured Christmas gifts, Toni Dolls. I sought to incorporate transfers of old photos of simpler times into contemporary art.”

WILMA: How do you incorporate photography into your paintings?  How does mixed media change a painting?

McLoughlin: “I make a copy of a photo and transfer it onto the painted canvas. The paint shows through the clear parts of the photo. I then selectively paint over and around the photo.

Mixed media can give depth, texture, or a focal point to a painting. In the case of my photo transfer pieces, it gives a subject or at least a hint of a story. It’s my story but people relate, and it brings back memories. The photo is a starting point. It’s fun for me to hear viewers’ interpretations of my abstract paintings. They are usually totally different from what I was experiencing while painting and that is a good thing. That’s their story.”

What are some of your goals, upcoming projects, or events?

McLoughlin: “Answering these questions about the inspiration for my work gave me an idea for a project entitled Once Upon a Time.  I’d love to do a series of paintings that spark, in the viewers, memories of stories of their own life experiences and hopes and dreams of things yet to come.

I’d also like to continue to work with photos in a more abstract style.

My artistic goal is to always stay fresh, challenge myself, and speak through my work.

After a busy 2019 exhibiting my art in Wilmington in solo shows … I anticipate a variety of exhibits in the coming year.

Right now, 2020 is a blank canvas that I intend to cover with color and creativity.”

Categories: Culture