Joanne Morris’s large-scale hyper realistic charcoal portraits depict Australia’s leading artists, actors, businesspeople and philanthropists.
Her dramatic, wall-sized images have captured the eye of galleries, designers, and private collectors worldwide. Joanne’s outstanding level of detail and artistic skill has gained attention all over Australia and New York, where she had a sell-out solo exhibition at Artexpo New York.
How did you initially begin drawing and creating art?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I always loved drawing pictures even when I was very little it was my favourite hobby. During school art was my favourite subject, it was the only class I was really interested in so I just kept going with it.
Then how did you go about developing this skill to hyper realistic charcoal portraits?
When I left high school I didn’t get into art school so I decided to go travelling instead, I set off on a back-packing adventure through Europe starting in Thailand. It was in the North of Thailand I met an artist /master who was creating art in this hyperrealistic style with charcoal. I wanted to learn and he agreed to teach me his technique but only if I stayed for at least 3 months and practiced ten hours a day – every day.
I agreed to the conditions but wanted to finish my trip first so after my year of travels I went back to the North of Thailand and stayed there and learned with him. It was here with the master I developed this skill of ‘painting with charcoal’.
Which piece of art is your personal favourite and why?
I do love this piece titled ‘Innocence’ It just captures something in her eyes and has a magical feeling to it. But my personal favourite it is the piece titled ‘ Love Joey’. It’s my favourite because it reminds me of when I was little and always drawing pictures and giving them to my Mum contrasted with the pictures I am drawing now.
It’s probably also my favourite, because I enjoyed the process of creating it so much. I had fun making the different textures – I drew the wood texture, sticky tape, photo and note paper with charcoal and graphite pencils for a realistic effect. This piece won an award in a prestigious Drawing Prize and I decided to keep it in my personal collection.
Can you tell us the meaning behind one of your portraits?
The artwork titled ‘Vincent – Contemplation’ Is a portrait of Australian artist, Vincent Fantauzzo. I planned on entering an artwork into the ‘Black Swan Prize for Portraiture’ and the guidelines for the portrait were to produce a work of art of an ‘Australian person that the Artist admires or is inspired by’
Vincent was an artist I was both inspired by and also admired so I was thrilled when he agreed to sit for me. I loved the creative process of working with Vincent and the artwork was a success – It won the ‘Peoples Choice Award’ in the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture and it was also the first artwork that I created a time-lapse video of – which is now a method I use to document my work.
If you could feature anyone in the world, who would you love to draw?
I would love to create a piece of artwork of Beyonce because I love to collaborate and work with other amazing artists. To have the experience of collaborating with such an artist in working together and to understand her creative vision for the piece would be a great experience and process. It is this process that I find fascinating and exciting and I love the creative synergy between artists that can produce something really special.
What is it about charcoal that you love the most?
I love the drama and depth I can create with charcoal without the added distraction of colour. With charcoal, I can achieve the softest subtlest tones through to the deepest darkest black and every value in between. I also love the fact I can create a piece of art with only a piece of charcoal and paper, there is something raw and organic about that.
And as an artist what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My charcoal master told me not to worry about how long a piece took me to complete but rather to enjoy the process and take my time. He explained It’s not so much about the end result, but to enjoy creating is where you will attain fulfillment and consequently a successful artwork.
Lastly, what does the rest of the year hold for an artist like Joanne Morris?
The rest of the year holds lots of exciting projects ahead – travel and creating artworks. I might be heading over to L.A. I’ll let you know!