I first met Shawn Dell Joyce while working on Creative Loafing’s art- and nature-themed Fall Guide in August 2019. As I was searching Google for nature-inspired art in Tampa Bay, I discovered both plein air painting and Shawn Dell Joyce’s work.
Painting en plein air, aka painting outdoors, is Joyce’s specialty. The technique allows her to capture light in ways you can’t see in a photograph. Her paintings uniquely capture Florida’s beauty, sun and heat all at once. I especially love her many depictions of water birds.
“It’s very hard for most artists to make a living just from the sale of paintings,” says Joyce, most of whose income comes from teaching. Joyce teaches painting at three different Pinellas County art centers — the Dunedin Fine Art Center, the Morean Arts Center in St. Pete and the Beach Art Center in Indian Rocks Beach.
“All three places that I teach at closed down because of the virus,” Joyce tells us. “Within a week, I am totally out of a job.”
Of course, I had to ask the obvious question, “Why aren’t our community art centers offering online classes?”
“We are greatly behind the curve on this,” says Joyce. “90% of my students come to me because they got frustrated with YouTube. That means people are going to YouTube first.”
Me: For art classes?
Joyce: For everything.
“If art centers aren’t careful, YouTube could take over,” Joyce tells me.
Most of Joyce’s clients are retired and on Facebook. “Right now, tons of people are self-isolating in their houses. They’re lonely, and they’re looking for a way to reach out… My hope is to reach out through Facebook, offer something that will give them a little color, a little hope — and a moment of peace.”
That ‘something’ is a free art class via Facebook Live. “Sort of like a Facebook Bob Ross,” she tells me.
This Thursday, March 19 at 1 p.m., Joyce is teaching anyone who tunes in how to make their own color wheel and mix paints. Then everyone paints a rainbow hibiscus flower together.
“We’re going to learn about color theory and why the human eye is genetically predisposed to love complementary colors,” says Joyce, “which is also how you happen to see the green flash if you’re watching the sunset. So if you want to find out how that works, you’ll have to tune in.
“When I saw the Italians throwing open their windows, stepping out onto the porch and singing with their neighbors, I thought, ‘That’s how you respond to a crisis,’” says Joyce.
“We have a choice here. We can go one of two ways. We can isolate and curse our bad luck, or we can throw open the windows and sing with our neighbors…
“I’m really not very good at singing, but I can teach art and I love teaching art. Just because my classes have all been canceled, doesn’t mean I have to stop.”
Shawn Dell Joyce is offering free painting classes via her Facebook page
Thursday, March 19 from 1-3 p.m. and Sunday March 22 from 6-9 p.m.
She’ll post a list of supplies prior to each class.
Explore Shawn Dell Joyce’s work at shawndelljoyce.com