Joanna Barnum

Residency and Receptions

Catoctin Mountain National Park

I have been accepted to participate in the National Parks Artist-In-Residence program as a resident artist at Catoctin Mountain National Park near Thurmont, Maryland.  I only found out about two weeks ago, so it has been a bit of a whirlwind preparing!  I will be in residence creating a body of plein air (landscapes painted directly from life) watercolors from May 2-May 14.  I leave in less than a week!  I’ll be presenting a free public program at the Visitor Center on May 8, 1-2pm.  It will be a brief demo and discussion of my plein air painting process.

“What the #!@* is Plein Air Painting”
I am delighted to be one of the 35 artists included in the inaugural exhibit of plein air painting at the brand new Ken Karlic Artist Studio & Gallery on Main Street in Bel Air, MD.  The opening reception is May 6 from 5-8:30pm.  I’ll be making a special trip back from Catoctin to attend.  Stay tuned for more news about workshops, classes, shows, and other events hosted at Ken’s new gallery- I’m sure there are big things ahead, and I’m excited that he is bringing more art to Harford County.

Art, Wine, & Dine in Bedford Springs, PA
I’ll be one of twelve guest plein air painters invited to paint at the “Art, Wine & Dine” weekend on May 20-22 at the beautiful Omni Bedford Springs Resort in PA.  “Wine, fine food and art: the perfect trio for a fabulous time at Omni Bedford Springs Resort. This year, we debut our Art, Wine & Dine event which showcases local artisans, wine purveyors, Resort culinary offerings and even an art auction, all with the lush Allegheny Mountains as the canvas. You’ll leave feeling like an expert. With this package you’ll get the VIP treatment: VIP Reception Friday night, Wine and Food Pairing Class, Wine and Paint Class, and VIP Art Preview Reception.”

Baltimore Watercolor Society Mid-Atlantic Exhibition
My painting “Outer Space” (below) has been juried into the Baltimore Watercolor Society’s Mid-Atlantic Exhibition at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD.  The show will be on view from June 9-July 16, with a reception on June 26 from 2-4pm.

Personal reflections on teaching watercolor

Last month, I ended a several year long stint teaching watercolor through Carroll Community College to a wonderful group of seniors at the North Carroll Senior Center.  I’d grown quite fond of the group, but the commute from Harford County to Carroll County was wearing on me.  I’m at a crossroads now with my teaching where I’m in the process of working out new classes and workshops in watercolor that I hope to offer here in Harford County, starting in the Fall- either out of my home studio or somewhere else nearby.  I wrote this post on my personal Facebook page with some thoughts I had about my teaching experience so far, and I’ve decided I’d like to share it here so that I can archive it in a more accessible format:

As I teach my last few class meetings in Carroll County, I’ve been doing some philosophical reflection. I’ve found that the following is true of the students who progress the most. It does not necessarily matter how much experience or “talent” they start out with. I think these things are probably true of any skill, not just painting.

Students who progress the most…

-Paint a lot, in and out of class.

-Listen to criticism and process and implement that feedback, rather than arguing with it or making excuses.

-Are not afraid to take risks and “fail” in the short term, while trying out new skills and ways of thinking. They understand that a “failed” painting is experience brought to the next one, and is not a waste.

-Ask questions and have a curious outlook. Research and study from other sources besides me and then share their new discoveries and ask questions about what they’ve read or done elsewhere.

I’ve also learned a few things about teaching.

-My biggest job, aside from the fundamental concepts to be taught, is to help my students learn to be fearless. Some come to me fearless, but many need to learn to be. Fear of failure, ruining the painting, trying something difficult, trying something new and different when they’ve gotten used to doing things one way…fear is a major obstacle.

-I have to take control of the classroom and schedule. I can’t allow myself to feel “bullied” or rushed by students who don’t want to wait their turn, or who have their own ideas about the plan for the day.

-I have to accept that everyone has their own goals and not everyone actually WANTS to improve or be pushed out of their comfort zone. In a community mixed level class, like the one I’ve been teaching, there are some students who are there to get out of the house, be around people, and who don’t care about getting a lot of work done, or who are happy following the same methods they always have…they don’t have goals beyond that and it’s OKAY, as long as it’s not a distraction for other students. I try to leave the door open for them to try more, without making them feel unwelcome by pushing too hard. In some class environments, this might not be appropriate, I have to gauge based on the purpose of the class and the needs of the students.

-Some students need the same ideas repeated over and over again in the same or different ways to really get it.

-Students need help becoming their own best selves as artists- not in-training versions of me.

-I don’t have to pretend to know everything about everything. But if someone asks a question or needs help with something I can’t answer with confidence, we can discover the answer together. I should make sure they know that in many cases, there is not a single right way of doing something, and different artists might have vastly different, equally valid approaches.

A Reception at TruAx Custom Frames, April 2

I hope you can join me at a reception at TruAx Custom Frames this coming Saturday, April 2.  I will be showing still life work all painted this winter from life, both acrylics and watercolors.  I have been experimenting with different modes of observational expression that I might carry over into other series of work. Originals will be for sale in a variety of sizes, and prints will also be available.

I will share the space with glass artist Chris McIntyre.

The reception is Saturday, April 2, from 6-8pm at 4715 Harford Rd., Baltimore, MD in the Hamilton/Lauraville area.

Tam Lin

This Fall, I took a wonderful book illustration class with Jonathon Scott Fuqua at the new Baltimore Academy of Illustration. It was an excellent opportunity to update my picture book portfolio.  I’ve been working on a picture book retelling of the classic Scottish ballad of Tam Lin, which I’ll be pitching to publishers as an author/illustrator.  Meanwhile, I highly recommend BAI to artists at any stage in their careers.  There is something for everyone.

(Click the square thumbnails to view the full images)



Cityscape, BWS, & AARP

I was so pleased to be awarded “Best Watercolor” for my painting “Sliding Shadows” by juror Philip Koch at the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association’s Cityscape exhibit.  It was on view at the Peale Center over the past few weekends- the first contemporary exhibit to be on display in the historic building since it closed to the public in the 90s.  The Peale Museum first opened in 1815, and was the first purpose built museum building in the country.

My painting “Stargazing” also received an Honorable Mention at the current Baltimore Watercolor Society member show at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House in Columbia, MD, on view until December 12.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for my free public watercolor demo on November 23, 7pm, at the Parkville Public Library and for the reception for Plein Air Painters Under 40 at Still Life Gallery in Ellicott City on December 13.

Last month, I had the incredible privilege of being commissioned through the GMMB agency to paint several portraits for AARP’s “Portraits of Care” project, focusing on the role of family caregivers in America.  Earlier this week I was able to attend the reception for the project at the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill.  I was able to meet a family member of the subjects of one of my portraits, which was really wonderful.

Here I am with Melanie Smith, granddaughter of Patricia & Bob from Sevierville, TN, the subjects of one of my portraits.

Holiday Portrait Season 2015

It’s that time of year!  If you’d like to commission a portrait for holiday gift giving, the deadline to order is December 1 in order to ensure shipment by December 25 for US customers.

International shipping times vary, so please inquire about feasibility if you’re outside the US.  I may also have some leeway on the Dec. 1 date for clients in the greater Baltimore region who can pick up their work in person, depending on how busy I am.

A full price scale and options available on the “How to Order” page. 

A portrait painting makes a beautiful one of a kind gift that will be cherished for years to come.  Subjects I can paint include adults, babies, infants, pets and animals of all kinds, homes, boats, and vehicles, and work is based on your provided reference photos.  Live portrait sittings are also available for Maryland area clients as schedule allows.

Some recent favorite examples of commissioned works:

Fall Exhibitions

I was so honored to receive the Viewer’s Choice Award for my painting “Main Street By the Seat of my Pants” at the Piedmont Plein Air Paint Out in High Point, NC in September and First Place in Watercolor for my painting “Squelch” at the Harford Artists Association’s Pictures at an Exhibition juried annual show.







I have three major exhibits coming up this Fall.  I hope to see you there!

Shows & Classes

I’ll be teaching “Watercolor Painting: Basics & Beyond” on the Westminster campus of Carroll Community College, Mondays, 6pm-8:30pm, October 5-November 16 (no class on Columbus Day). $149 ($45 for senior citizens) Register through Carroll Community College.  The class will cover the basics for beginners to watercolor painting, and will include demos and assistance with self directed work for more advanced students.  The session will also repeat in Jan/Feb 2016 for new or continuing students.

I’m also looking forward to repeating my Luminous Portraits workshop for Baltimore Watercolor Society this Fall- I would share the link to sign up, but once again, the workshop filled up with BWS members as soon as registration opened.  What an enthusiastic group!

This Sunday, please join me for the Harford Artists Association annual juried “Pictures At An Exhibition” show reception this Saturday, September 12, 1pm-4pm. The gallery is on the grounds of Rockfield Manor at 503 East Churchville Road in Bel Air. It has been a pleasure getting involved with this group since moving to Harford County this Spring.

“Stargazing,” one of 3 large portrait watercolors included in the Harford Artists exhibit.


October 6-January 14, I will be part of the group exhibit “Spectrum of Color,” sponsored by the Women’s Club of Westminster in the conference rooms at the Carroll Nonprofit Center.  It is available for view 7:45am-5pm Monday-Friday, when the conference rooms are not in use.  You can call 410-871-9030 to verify availability.

For the month of November, I will have a display of plein air watercolors at the Parkville branch of Baltimore County Public Library.  A reception will be on Monday evening, November 23.

I’m also looking forward to a group exhibition that is in the works with Still Life Gallery in Ellicott City, MD of regional plein air artists under 40.  We are still finalizing details, but you can look forward to seeing that in December or January.  Stay tuned for more information.

Upcoming Events

Work on getting our new house organized and fixed up continues- it seems like there is so much to do!  But the studio is all set up and back to business as usual.

Now that I’m living in Abingdon, I am excited to be a new member of the Harford Artists’ Gallery.  A new group show goes up July 3.  I’ll be sitting the gallery on July 5 from 1:30-5 if you’d like to come say hello!  There is an opening for the show, “Mountains to Seashore,” on July 11, 1-4pm.  The gallery is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10am-5pm and is located in a cottage on the grounds of Rockfield Manor, 503 E Churchville Rd, Bel Air, MD.

I’m looking forward to participating in this year’s Paint It! Ellicott City plein air event as a juried artist.  I’ll be out painting on the streets of historic Ellicott City, MD from July 10-12, and the reception for the show is July 13, 6-8pm at the Howard County Center for the Arts. 

I’m also heading to High Point, North Carolina to compete as a juried artist at Piedmont Plein Air from September 17-20.

As always, you can shop for my work this summer in my Etsy shop online, at the Gift Cellar in Hamilton, and at Still Life Gallery in Ellicott City.

I’ve Moved!

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet lately.  That’s because most of my attention has been going to the huge job of home selling, home buying, packing, and moving.  My husband Mike, Zephyr the greyhound, and I have moved to a new home in Abingdon, Maryland.  I will miss our Baltimore County rowhouse, but our new space means more yard for Zephyr to run, and more home studio space for me.

Later this year, once I’ve finished getting situated in the new house, I plan to begin hosting some small group watercolor workshops here.  Stay tuned for more details, but in the meantime, feel free to drop me a line if this is something you may be interested in, or if you’d like to request a special topic. I’m also working on getting to know the arts community in the Harford County area, and am available for guest demos or workshops, if you know of a venue I should connect with here.

I do have the basics of the studio unpacked and functional again, and I have re-opened my Etsy shop for orders, which was in vacation mode for a few weeks during the move.  I am available for portrait commissions and illustration work on a normal timeframe.

I’m honored to have my painting “Squelch, Jester & Herald of the Magpie Court” accepted by juror Mark Mehaffey into the Baltimore Watercolor Society’s 2015 Mid-Atlantic Regional Exhibition.  The show runs from June 3-July 1 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Maryland and the reception is June 14 from 2-4pm.

My painting “Kalindi Eating a Banana” has been accepted into Splash 17: Inspiring Subjects, an annual juried compilation of works in water media from North Light Books.  The book will be available in Spring of 2016.