Artist Interview - Joanne Sharpe

Now is the time to get started on your holiday cards!  Read on for our interview with greeting card artist Joanne Sharpe.


Who are you and what do you do?

Joanne Sharpe, Artist, Author, Educator.


Why do you do what you do?

I am most fortunate to make a living doing what I love, knowing that being an artist is what I was born to do.


What are your favorite mediums to work with?

It’s hard to pick just one, I love it all!  I am primarily a watercolor and lettering artist.  My favorite supplies are professional grade watercolors.  To mix things up a bit, I also will incorporate mixed media art supplies, like acrylic paint, stencils, water-soluble pencils, and crayons and collage into my art journaling and teaching workshops.


How and when did you get into art?

I have been an artist and teacher my entire life and have a degree in art education.  After 20 years as an art teacher, I opened an art studio to teach workshops to adults and children in my own space.  When I closed the studio, I ventured down another teaching path as well as attending art shows and festivals selling my work.  Since 2006, I’ve been on the road teaching in art and scrapbook stores as well as national workshops and art retreats.  Since COVID, all my in-person events were canceled, I am designing and teaching online art classes exclusively.  


How has your practice changed over time?

That’s such a good question!  I am proud to say that having been an artist all this time, the basic “spirit” of my work has been consistent.  My love for vibrant color, loose painting style, and incorporating inspirational words has been steady. I think my work now is even looser and more expressive as I have adopted the “perfectly imperfect” approach, and sharing my style in teaching.  


What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?

That’s like picking a favorite child! My favorites change as often as I continue to create.  There are many examples on my Instagram of the “chosen ones”, the pieces I share my best and favorite at any moment in time.   


What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?

From my dad, when I told him that I wanted to go to college to be a social worker.  He said “No, you are going to school for art.  God gave you talent and he doesn’t give that to everyone.”  He was right, and I still hold those words very close every day.  He encouraged me to seek a life path knowing that I would “be who I was born to be”.


What are your favorite mediums to work with when creating greeting cards?  Why?

Always creating with watercolors, pen and ink, lettering, and collage.  I can still be the artist that I am sharing miniature versions of my work and style.  Not to sound partial to this invitation from Strathmore, but I sincerely, like using the premade, deckled edge cards and envelopes as well as assorted watercolor papers by Strathmore.


What are your top greeting card tips?

“Just be you!”  Make your cards an expression of who you are, in your own authentic creative voice.   Experiment with different papers, paints, pens, lettering, and handmade embellishments.


What is your favorite greeting card design that you’ve created?

Most recently I launched an online class called “Happy Holiday Art”.  The course content includes dozens of techniques to make pieces of painted art of simple imagery to use as embellishments for cards.  The cards that I made for the class samples are my absolute favorites, even though I have made hundreds over the years.


What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?

Don’t ever trash any art pieces that you don’t like!  Save your “misfit artworks” to recycle into future projects.  I have a special box of what I call “Art Bits” where I save scraps that become elements in new artwork and collage.


Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?

Do not be afraid to just cover up mistakes with another beautiful art piece!  Layers are lovely, and it’s perfectly fine to disguise errors with a more pleasing piece.  When you have spelling errors, you either accept the “perfect imperfection” or start over.  I have done both.  When including words and sentiments, sometimes it helps to make a separate piece of lettering or art and paste in or on the card.  


What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?

Truthfully, I am a huge fan of all the watercolor papers in the 300 and 500 series.  It’s the most affordable, perfect paper for making beautiful art, experimenting, practicing, and learning.  In addition to the loose papers and pads, I am most attached to the Mixed Media and Watercolor journals with either the soft or hardcovers.  Since 2014 I have included the large Mixed Media journal (64 pages) on the supply list for my year-long “Artfully Inspired Life™” online class.  The pages are exceptional for taking on paints, inks, pens and collage, basically anything and everything we use!  


What art materials could you not live without?

Color palettes of watercolor paint, good brushes, and gold gouache along with good quality papers and journals, and sketchbooks.


What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?

You’ll find any and all bright, vibrant colors like hot pink, lime green, oranges, yellows, and turquoise in 99% of my art.  Why?  Because these are all happy colors and I make art to express and share joy!


Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?

When I was 11 years old, my uncle was a salesman for a high-end art supply company in New York City.  He gave me many of his samples because he knew I loved art and was always drawing and painting.  When he gave me a $100 sable paintbrush and said,  “this is because you are a real artist”, I believed him!  There I was 11 years old with a ridiculously expensive paintbrush!  Since a very young age, my family always encouraged and believed in me.    


What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?

I’m frequently asked, “How can I make my art look like yours?”  My answer is, you can’t.  I inspire, empower, and encourage my art students to learn basic methods and develop their own personal style.  It takes practice, practice, practice!  Be inspired by the art of others but seek to make your own way.    


Website/social media links:


INSTAGRAM: @joannesharpe

FACEBOOK: Whimspirations by Joanne Sharpe

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