Joan McKasson, an award-winning artist

joan5JOAN MCKASSON:  is a nationally recognized watercolor painter, juror and an enthusiastic, inspirational instructor of creative watercolor and watermedia workshops. Her paintings find their base in the reaction to free-flowing pigments and the abstract patterns created in this approach. She has taught workshops throughout the U.S. and internationally.


An award winning artist, Joan has exhibited with the American Watercolor Society, Rocky Mountain National, San Diego Watercolor Society International, Signature American Watercolor Exhibition, Western Federation of Watercolor Societies and Watercolor West. She was the juror of selection and awards for Watercolor West 40th Annual Juried Exhibition. Her painting, ”Garden Poppy Cascade”, received the Janet Hillford Memorial Award in the 42nd Watercolor West Annual Exhibition and in the 44th Annual Watercolor West Exhibition, she received a Combined Merchandise Award for “Garden Matilijas”. Joan’s painting, ”Celebration Birds” received the San Diego Watercolor Society Award of Excellence in the 2008 SDWS International Exhibition.Italian Facade

McKasson holds signature membership in Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Society, San Diego Watercolor Society, Watercolor West, Western Federation of Watercolor Societies and is an elected member of the San Diego Artists Guild.

Her paintings are included in the following publications: Finding Your Visual Voice, The Best of Watercolor 2, Best of Flower Painting 2, The Artistic Touch 1, 2, 3 and 4, Basic Flower Painting, The New Spirit of Watercolor and in articles in the Artist’s Magazine and the American Artist Magazine. McKasson’s paintings are included in private and public collections throughout the United States and internationally.


Artist Statement

Observing the beauty and patterns in our world and sharing my personal vision through the use of color and pattern is a continuing theme in my work. A personal search continues to see beyond the obvious and to abstract the essence of nature’s ever changing drama. My challenge is not to tame the free spirit of watercolor but to use it as an energizing force in my creative expression.

What is your art background?

 I was raised in a musical family. My father was a music professor and an orchestra conductor so my early years were involved with music and learning to play the violin. I always loved color and drawing but I didn’t have the opportunity to take art classes until I went to college. I started as an art major at San Diego State and changed my major early on to elementary education. After graduation from SDSU, I taught 1st grade, married my husband, Dale, and we had four children.

After my children were enrolled in elementary school, I decided it was time to start taking art classes again. I took a watercolor class and was hooked by this magical medium.  I loved the way the water and pigment flowed on surface of the paper. To this day, I am still intrigued by this process. In my search to learn more about the watercolor process, I was fortunate to be able to study with watercolor masters, Rex Brandt, Robert E. Wood, Gerald Brommer, Tom Hill and others.

Slide1What is your career/work?

 I have enjoyed teaching creative watercolor and watermedia workshops for SDWS. I have also taught throughout the U.S. and internationally. My paintings are exhibited in the SDWS gallery, with the Accent on Watercolor group and Leslie Levy Fine Art ( I have been fortunate to have my paintings accepted in the American Watercolor Society Exhibition, Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition, San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibition, Signature Watercolor Exhibition, Western Federation of Watercolor Societies and Watercolor West. .


What inspires you in your art?

The colors, shapes and textures found in nature are always an inspiration for my paintings. I enjoy painting flowers from our garden, landscapes inspired by our travels to other countries and local scenes. My paintings often find their base in the reaction to free-flowing pigments and the abstract patterns created in this approach.


loank3What is your thought process?

 A desire to communicate my feelings about a subject is the first step in preparing to paint. I look at the shapes, the colors and textures and decide whether the subject would work better as a vertical or horizontal painting.  I always ask myself the question, “What do I want to say in this painting?” It is important to remember to enjoy the process and not be too concerned whether the painting is working out or not. Just relax and let creativity take over.


How do you attack your paintings?Garden Matilijas

 I discovered early on that the best way for me to begin a painting was to start with laying down an abstract water pattern on a dry sheet of watercolor paper and to flood watercolor pigment, wet into wet, into the water pattern. This method creates drips, runs and unexpected blending of the pigments introduced.  I enjoy the surprises that happen and the unexpected patterns and shapes. Instead of drawing my subject before painting, I like to draw my subject with a water-soluble pencil into the abstract pattern that is created in the first wash. From that point on, it’s a balancing act. What do I need to add to the painting to create the feeling I’m trying to communicate and to make the composition work? I often photograph my paintings in process and study them on the computer. This enables me to see them in a different light. I try to follow the philosophy “Less is More”.


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