The ambience of Joanne Makas’ studio is starkly different depending on what she’s working on. “When I am painting, I like listening to music; but when I am drawing, I work in silence and focus on my breath,” the Sydney artist explains.
Joanne, who has a background in fashion, attended art classes at Waverley Woollahra Art School when her children were young, but it quickly turned into much more than a hobby. She became captivated by the paintings of Australian landscape artist Elisabeth Cummings, whom she did a couple of outdoor workshops with, and who ultimately pushed her to go to art school, enrolling at the National Art School, Sydney in 2010 at the age of 40.
“I am interested in how colour has the ability to create bodily sensations, activate feelings or trigger memories,” Joanne says. “Essentially, it is the relationship between the body, time and colour that I am exploring.” She does this through the mediums of painting, drawing and installation.
The artist’s paintings are monochrome; built up through many layers of oil pigment. “Through the ritual of colour mixing I am able to connect to my inner self,” she explains. This process led Joanne to create more conceptual installation works. “I became excited [with] how colour creates its own spatial and temporal dimension when released from the plane,” she says of her installations. “I like to use everyday materials, and paper, creating a virtual reality that traverses between painting, drawing and sculpture.”
This year, Joanne has been expanding on work that emerged from an art residency in September 2018 at New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale, NSW. The work, which includes an installation titled The Forest That Sighs, is inspired by her drive from Sydney to Armidale, along Thunderbolts Way, where she noticed the absence of green in the countryside. “The land was dry. Black Gully Reserve, which is behind the museum, was a daily reminder of the environmental crisis in our country and globally,” she says.
Beginning with a humble painting class, Joanne has explored the full range of her creative potential, and her works are only getting bigger, bolder and more confident.
Feature image: Joanne Makas, The Forest That Sighs. Tissue paper, acrylic and mylar, dimensions variable. Courtesy: the artist. Photo: Document photography.