Featured artist: Timothy Joe
Lumberyard Shotgun House, 16x20, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
A self-taught, representational artist from the rural southern town of Greensboro, Alabama, Timothy Joe, creates art based on southern rural culture, family, and heritage themes.
Rusty Storage, 16x20, pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord
Q: You have mentioned that your mission is to capture the hidden treasures before time erases them completely. Tell us more about this.
Sure. I always love stories of explorers following a map searching for buried treasure. It’s an adventure because you don’t know what you will encounter along the way. I put myself in the role of that explorer, and my treasures are old buildings, landmarks, or an antique item. The rustier the better! I want to learn the history of my subject matter. I can’t do my subject justice until I connect to its history first. That is extremely important to me. I am racing against time to capture the treasures I found because there is no guarantee that an old structure will be there next year. My mission is to save as many of these relics as possible before nature takes back the scene.
The Old M&C Grocery Store, 15x30, oil
Q: What has been your favorite hidden treasure to paint?
Thank you for asking me that! I have a few of them, but one of them is an old family-owned grocery store. I have seen this building throughout my life between my hometown of Greensboro and Moundville. The faded sign on the building read “M&C Grocery.” There is a charm about those mom-and-pop stores along rural county roads. So I worked up the courage to paint this abandoned store from a photo I took early one morning. I posted the finished piece on Instagram and found a message in my inbox from the granddaughter of the store owner. She shared an old black and white picture of her grandfather inside the store with a customer. It is such a rewarding experience inducing nostalgia in my audience.
Edmund Pettus Bridge, 11x14, pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord
Q: You have said that learning the history of your subjects helps you create meaningful art. In March of 2020, you attended the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, and have also painted the Edmund Pettus Bridge several times. Can you share how the history of these locations impacts your approach to painting them?
Painting historical locations of high significance like the Pettus Bridge was a heavy experience. It was the end of my plein air trip to historic Selma, Alabama, and I wanted to leave Selma on a high note. I could feel the history radiating from the scene while setting up my easel and opening my pastel box. I painted with the civil rights my ancestors were beaten and arrested for wanting. It was an honor to pay my respects to their act of courage in the face of adversity and hatred.
Memory Lane, 11x14, pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord
Q: You paint with gouache, watercolor, pastel, oil, and acrylic. Is there one medium that you enjoy more?
Each medium brings something to the table, and the subject matter determines which one I use. I would say I have the most fun using soft pastels. Opening my pastel box and seeing a rainbow of color is a huge thrill. It is the only medium I make direct contact with. All the other mediums require a brush. I love the color that pastels leave on my fingers, almost like being a child having fun finger painting.
Great Egret Homebound, 6x8, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: You also work in mechanical engineering. How do your career and artwork influence each other?
You would think the two sides would be in constant conflict, but it is the opposite. Having an artistic mind helps me think outside the box in my engineering role, and being able to see things differently was an asset. On the flip side, engineering allows me to see and follow processes as an artist, like breaking down a scene into simple shapes, compositions, and perspectives.
Boathouse, 18x24, pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord
Q: In May, you are attending a 7-day plein air workshop in Italy. You have also done a series of plein air paintings in Bermuda. Which locations inspire you the most, between the exotic locations and the local backroad plein air stops.
I love seeing the rural landscapes of different regions. The rural scenery of Bermuda is very different from the Black Belt of the US. The colorful houses, power poles, and palm trees in Bermuda provided an abundance of painting opportunities. I hauled my gouache set everywhere I went in the country. I am ecstatic with the anticipation of painting in Italy with my favorite oil painter instructor. This is a chance of a lifetime that will further my journey as an artist. I will bring home new experiences and knowledge that open new avenues of creativity that I can’t wait to explore!
Just Passing By, 6x6, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: How did you discover Ampersand Panels, and what do you love most about them for your work?
I had problems with my art on canvas getting warped because of the temperature or damaged en route to an art show. I discovered Ampersand Panels in one of my favorite art stores and knew it would help damaged art issues. I can pack many panels together, and it doesn’t take up a ton of studio space.
Plus, my plein air ventures are enjoyable because I don’t suffer with sunlight coming through the back of the canvas. I found other art panel surfaces too slick for my taste, and it feels like I am painting on glass. I desire some tooth to my painting surface, and I get the right amount of it from Ampersand Pastelbord, Gessobord, and Aquabord. In my soft pastel workshops, I provide Ampersand Gray Pastelbord, and it makes my students’ lives easy so they can enjoy the soft pastel painting experience.
Timothy Michael Joe participated in his first art festival in his mid-teens and has since completed many commission pieces. He has worked with many mediums over the years, including graphite, calligraphy, charcoal, gouache, acrylic, oil paints, and soft pastels. He enjoys using his gift to educate, uplift, and encourage his audience.
His favorite subjects are rural structures in landscapes. "I love learning the history of my subject and gaining the appreciation that helps me create meaningful art. Creating a beautiful painting is nice but painting the same scene with an understanding of the history is what I am after. I believe the backstory of my subject is just as important as the color I choose to paint." To see more of Timothy's work, visit his website, Instagram, and Facebook.