Inside the Artist’s Studio with Painter Joy Dorr

Foggy Mountain by Joy Dorr

As you might know we frequently publish what we like to call our Inside the Artist’s Studio column. In each article we connect with a featured artist by asking them select questions and showcasing their work.

This month we are doing things a bit differently.

Friend at Mission Hospital Showing Off Joy Dorr’s Work

We want to share with you the work of Alcohol Ink painter Joy Dorr, whose has four paintings on permanent display at Mission Hospital’s new North Tower at part of Mission’s “Art of Caring” exhibit.

Art in hospitals has been proven to contribute to better mental health, faster healing and overall comfort of patients.

So early in the planning stages of Mission Hospital’s new North Tower the administration decided to focus not only on developing a state-of-the-art healing facility but also in supporting the Western North Carolina community by commissioning artwork from our great local artists.

We are proud that Mountain Made gallery artist Joy Dorr was one of the chosen few.

What did you do when you first heard your artwork was accepted for Mission Hospital’s Art of Caring? How do you feel about having your displayed in the hospital?

I called my husband-he has always encouraged me-he built my studio! So it was a great moment for us. I am honored to be a part of this exhibition.

The concept so aligns with my goal as an artist to inspire and lift up others with edifying images. To surround people who may be in physical and/or emotional pain with peaceful distractions and offer a small measure of hope.

Also what is amazing is that my four paintings are displayed on the floor where one of my best friends works as a nurse. That was a blessing for both of us.

Joy goes on to say,  “Living in Asheville, I am surrounded by the colors and textures of the mountains.  The views are inspiring and I try to bring some version of the images I see to the canvas. Above are 2 of the 4 paintings I sold to Mission Hospital.  Both are 40″ by 60″ on canvas.”

More from Inside the Artist’s Studio

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

The answer to that question varied throughout my childhood, but at the heart of every ambition was a desire to entertain, to make people laugh, to bring happiness to others in some way. (Except for a dark period when I wanted to be a lawyer.)

When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

I have been drawing and sculpting ever since I can remember. In school I took classes in silk screening, metal casting, cloisonné enameling, ceramics, photography, batik, calligraphy, painting, writing, acting, singing…just always needed some kind of creative outlet.

How long does it take you to create one of your pieces?

Some drawings or paintings may take only a day or so. Many are in progress for weeks or even put aside for months and then I go back and rework them. Sculptures average 15 to 30 hours at least. I tried timing how long they took and discovered I was making less than $2 an hour. Sad face.

What is your schedule like when you’re working?

Schedule? What schedule? I’m an artist!

What would you say is your interesting quirk while working?

Don’t know if it’s interesting, but I completely lose track of time. I can get so focused on a project I will find the entire day has passed without having eaten anything.

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your artwork?

Nature, absolutely. Western NC is ideal for landscape artists, the canvases surround you everywhere. Animals and the human form also inspire me.

What do you like to do when you’re not working on your art?

Spending time with my husband and kids; being with my grandchildren because it’s all play, no rules. Lying on my couch watching baseball; as a hardened Mets fan, my mantra is “ya gotta believe”. Fellowshipping with my friends.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself while making art?

That I held myself back for years because I thought I had to be the best before I could legitimately exhibit or sell my work. I’m not the best painter, I’ll never be “the best” painter, but I don’t have to be. My work will appeal to some people and not to others, and that’s okay.

How many art pieces do you think you have created?

Over the years and across all mediums, easily 500. Over 70 of my works are posted on my website,

Which of your art pieces are your favorites?

The “Bunnies” painting (above) is a favorite. I was trying a new process and it was a real struggle between me and the ink, but I feel like in the end we got there together.

Same with “Forest Fall”; the challenge of coaxing the free flowing ink to produce a specific image is satisfying when I can do it.

I have “Cymopoleia” (an abstract of crashing ocean waves) in a 20″ by 16″ metal print and I love how that looks.

The saturated colors and swirls contrast nicely with the clean edges of the metal. It pairs well with “Foggy Mountain” for a mountains to the sea theme.

Most of the alcohol ink prints can be enlarged up to 60″ by 40″ as they were for the “Art of Caring” installation.

How do you decide on which ideas to develop?

For me it is mostly visual. I see something and I want to somehow reinterpret it in some form or fashion. There are also times I am just experimenting with a medium and it progresses from there.

Do you hear from your fans? What kinds of things do they say?

People can be so generous and kind. Selling items online I am gratified to see positive feedback from people all over the world. Selling in person at a craft show many people just pass me by. Others will stop, look and give compliments.

Then there are a few who just love the work. They will ask how I did it, what is the medium, and are lavish in their praise.

Corona by Joy Dorr

Most jobs you don’t get that effusive approbation. Working in accounting, no one ever gushed over how beautifully I reduced our receivables. It’s a kind of intimacy connecting with a complete stranger through something you made.

When they buy a piece, it is validating because they wanted it enough to part with their hard earned money. That exchange is proof that you imparted something of value to them.

What do you think makes good art?

Successfully communicating an emotion, an experience, a vision, a concept. Connecting to someone else and sharing a moment. At different times throughout our lives we all experience the same moments. Art is a way of documenting them.


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