Julie Joyce is “so tired, but so excited.” The painter has just opened her one-woman art show “An Artist’s Journey” at the Marathon Community Theatre (MCT). Joyce, a watercolor, collage and mixed-media artist, has a herculean 60 pieces on display at MCT and is raising money for the theater. She’s also hosting a meet-and-greet on Jan. 30.

“I feel an excitement each time I begin a painting as I try to capture the tropical essence; and as the paints mix and mingle, there is a true love affair,” she writes in an artist’s statement about the show. Bright sunsets and shadowed palm trees are her signature vista, and Joyce’s vibrant works tell the story of a woman in love with her life in the Keys. “It’s what people know me for, but I also love mangoes and birds,” she says. “And other tropical things; I just enjoy all of that.”

Before this adventure in tropical living and art, Joyce was an international flight attendant with TWA for 35 years and lived in New York. “I’ve always felt a gypsy in my soul,” she says, recalling what prompted her wanderlust. “That gypsy pulls me on a different journey now — into the world of luscious, bright, transparent watercolors….”

This second leg of her life’s journey started when she was flying and received a handmade note from her supervisor with a small tulip painted on the front. “I remember saying to my husband, ‘I think this is watercolor. Wouldn’t it be nice to paint a little flower and send it out on a card — your own work?’” And so, the flight attendant bought a little watercolor kit and some cheap paper and began experimenting. Right about when she realized “This isn’t working,” Joyce serendipitously met local watercolor artist Connie Hauk, who taught and mentored her for 14 years. Joyce recalls feeling like she was “off the ground” from her very first lesson. “I just knew it was magic, the way you take a little piece of paint and water and see what happens when they commingle.”

Her work has been described as “happy, colorful and done with care.” Joyce is satisfied with the description. “Those elements are a part of everything I do,” she acknowledges. Still, when her work was hung on opening night, the artist initially felt vulnerable. “I put my whole painting experience out there for the entire town, and that’s humbling,” she said, “but when someone wants it, connects with it, it builds your confidence.”

One of her first customers, an MCT board member who lost her home in Irma, told Joyce, “The colors in this painting are perfect. I want to buy it because I finally have a home again to hang it in.” The interaction left Joyce emotional. “She just got her home and she wants my art to be a part of it. That’s really special.”

The show will run until Feb. 8, and works can be viewed Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as before the curtain and during intermission of MCT’s main-stage comedy “Four Old Broads.” You can “Meet the Artist” on Thursday, Jan. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at MCT. Twenty percent of proceeds from the art show will go to MCT as “a gesture of the artist helping the arts.”

With gratitude, Joyce tells the Weekly, “I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to do something like this again, and I am so glad I stayed with it. I still have that little tulip card in my studio to remind me.”

 

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