“My paintings are about Colorado,” says Theresa Joyce, Denver-area artist. “Nearly every one of them is a painting of where I’ve been, where I hang out, or where I ski.
The first thing Joyce does before starting a painting is to ask herself why she wants to paint that particular scene.
“I try to remember the excitement,” she says. The snowy sights and sounds, the fragrant pines or the icy chill of a winter’s day – these are the aspects she will embed into the finished painting. Some of Joyce’s winter landscapes are designed with about a five-to-one ratio, to capture a broad horizon line and the crisp snap of a winter’s day.
Joyce might tell you she doesn’t know anything about art. Yet over the years, she’s turned that not knowing into a great deal of know-how.
“I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida,” Joyce said. “When I was 16, someone painted my dirt bike for me – it cost a lot of money to have it done, and I thought, ‘What can I pay him with?’ He had a bassett hound puppy – the painting of his basset hound puppy was truly my very first painting – and I gave it to him for payment. He was so happy, and I was so excited. I didn’t know anything about paints, but I think [I used] oils.”
In high school, she was part of a school-sponsored art tour to Europe.
“We went to eight countries – saw the Louvre. I went to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and was totally stunned as I looked at this one painting as wide as this [living] room and much taller than the ceiling. It was called ‘The Night Watch’ [it’s roughly 12 by 14 feet], by Rembrandt. I didn’t know I loved art until that trip. To that point, I had scribbled, painted a dog, but I really didn’t know anything… it was just a hobby.”
That trip proved to be a turning point for her.
“Thank goodness I went on that trip. It changed my life. It’s how I wound up in Colorado. On that same trip, we went to the mountains in Switzerland, and I thought, ‘Boy, when I grow up, I’m moving from Florida! I wondered, where are mountains like that in America? And my dad said, ‘I think they’re in Montana and Wyoming.’ I said, ‘But where is that Aspen place?’
“So, I grew up, went to school, got a job.”
She landed a job as a respiratory therapist at Tampa General Hospital.
“During my time in Tampa, I painted for baby gifts – a little lamb jumping in the grass, and like that, nothing serious. After four years at the hospital, I said, ‘Okay. Time to move.’ I went to bookstores, read newspapers looking for jobs.”
This was in 1981, before the Internet. With a specialty in NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit], working with premature babies, she finally called Children’s Hospital in Denver.
“They said, ‘If you’re for real then you’ve got the job.’ So, I moved.”
She met her husband, Paul, at Children’s Hospital. They bought a log cabin-style home in Gilpin County’s Golden Gate Canyon State Park. By then, she was painting with acrylics.
“We had all these bare walls, and I painted pictures for all of them.” She entered a painting in the Gilpin County Art Fair and received an Honorable Mention. “It was encouraging, and I was so excited.”
Grand Lake Art Gallery sold her paintings for several years.
“I’d take in five paintings, and they’d select three. They would sell and I’d get a check in the mail. It was great!”
Joyce was an accomplished painter when she began taking classes with Denver artist Evelyn Martinez, who became a mentor and turned Joyce from working with acrylics to oils.
“Evelyn taught me the secret of creating reflections in my landscape paintings.”
An active member of the Wheat Ridge Art League since 2016, Joyce just completed her fifth year of chairing the annual art show of the Wheat Ridge Carnation Festival. Several of her paintings sold over the Aug. 11-13 weekend.
“Painting, for me, is like going on vacation. I hope people will see what I’ve produced and think they would like to go there, too.”
Many of Theresa Joyce’s paintings may be seen at www.facebook.com/WheatRidgeArtLeagueDenver.