Mercer mural revealed

Brightly-colored cityscape in the new Lexan™ mural at Mercer Park Aquatic Center

Detail of the new mural

People at ribbon cutting for the new mural at Mercer Park Aquatic Center in Iowa City

Folks at the ribbon cutting

Thank you to everyone who came to the ribbon cutting for the new mural at Mercer Park Aquatic Center! The mural, a colorful cityscape, is made of Lexan™ panels with interactive moving parts inspired by STEAM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). On the upper panels I drew downtown Iowa City with the Courthouse, Old Capitol, and Clock Tower. I also painted the sun and moon, and a mosque, synagogue, church and temple as I saw people feeling safe to play.

The mural was a collaborative project — I worked with artists and engineers from the University of Iowa College of Engineering NEXUS Program, Iowa City Parks and Recreation, and more members of the Iowa City community. The ceremony program (shown at bottom left, click to view larger) gives special thanks to some of the people most involved, and this article in The Daily Iowan does a great job of describing the collaboration:

I’ll show more of the process of making the mural in future posts. As my artist’s statement says, “For me this was a gift to celebrate joy and playfulness and to be creative during these disturbing times of suffering. Creating art is meditative, reflective and helps ground me. I experienced a sense of oneness with the Mercer family and the Iowa City community that gave me a sense of grace and solace.”

Special Thanks page from unveiling of the mural at Mercer Park Aquatic Center in Iowa City

Program from the ribbon cutting,
plus a few extra thanks
(click image to view larger)

Jo, Whitney, and Grace shown collaborating on the mural for Mercer Park Aquatic Center in Iowa City

With co-conspirators
Whitney and Grace

Posted in Studio Snapshots

IWS 2017–2018 Traveling Show

The Iowa Watercolor Society’s Traveling Show is a selection of works from a variety of Iowa artists, chosen each year from the Society’s juried exhibition. I’m honored to have one of my paintings (After the Rain, We Play, shown here) in the 2017–2018 show which will travel to:  (contact galleries for exact dates/times)

Watercolor painting of country house after rain by Jo Myers-Walker

After the Rain, We Play

Schedule information is from the Traveling Show page of IWS’s website, where you can find more details plus a preview of the exhibit!

Posted in Upcoming Events

Painting roses in Amana

Watercolor paintings of roses by Jo Myers-Walker showing progressive layering of color

Joan brought her last roses of the season for us to paint.
We worked on finding the shapes first, let paper dry and added the petals.
It made for a very good lesson on layering using 3 colors.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Demonstrating on the Ped Mall

Jo Myers-Walker demonstrating watercolor painting on the pedestrian mall in Iowa City

Demonstrating watercolor painting near Iowa Artisans Gallery in downtown Iowa City.
On the right:  Showing off my new fashion statement, the knee scarf! (to support my knee)
(Thanks to Mary Maxson for taking the photos)

Posted in Uncategorized

Return to the country retreat

Artists at a workshop near Nevada, Iowa, looking for subjects in nature to paint

From the workshop in May, looking for what to paint
(Photo on the left courtesy of Mary M. de Baca)

Sketchbook on table with view of farm home's yard through a window

View from the Coverdales’ window

During our workshops at the “Coverdale Art Institute” Mike says he hears a lot of laughter as people are relaxed and following along. We begin looking at the yard with a view finder, noticing the light on trees and flowers, birds etc. This is the meditation part to bring us into the moment of the Coverdales’ beautiful yard and letting go of our daily lives.

We start painting with a sampler of the techniques we will be using for the day, usually involving chickens to show color mixing on the paper, then trees with foliage, lifting out fences, tree limbs, finding the big shapes in the flower garden and individual flower techniques. The artists go home with a painting they are proud of.

(Photos are from the May and July workshops.)

Watercolor techniques demonstrated in sketchbook

A sampler of watercolor techniques

Watercolor painting of yard in the countryside by Jo Myers-Walker

A painting of our surroundings

Artists at work around a table during watercolor workshops near Nevada, Iowa

Around the table in May (left) and July (right)
(Photos courtesy of Mike Coverdale)

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Following the shade

Sketching on the ped mall in Iowa City, July 2017

Sketching on the ped mall in July weather, we kept moving back into the shade ’til
it just got too hot and we stopped into Heirloom/Java House for lunch and sharing.
(Photo on the right courtesy of Mary Maxson)

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Another window view

Watercolor street scene of downtown Iowa City seen from above by Jo Myers-Walker

(Left)  Window view with Chauncey building construction
(Right)  Detail:  My imagined rooftop café will have a great view of the park

Another window view, painted when I was supposed to rest the knees. I am watching the construction of the Chauncey building which will be next to the parking ramp shown on the left. Staging for the construction has taken over Chauncey Swan Park, the closest part of the area next to the ramp. It will be redeveloped as a park space when the building is done.

The scene is very active as the brick building shown on the right has been a French café, dance studio, Realtor office, piano studio, and now houses the Community Foundation of Johnson County among other offices. For this painting I invented a rooftop café, then found out there have been two different cafés on the second floor, so I wasn’t too far off! The roof just seemed liked wasted space. When the redeveloped park is finished across the street, a movie screen may be put up on the side of the parking ramp, so I thought what a great way to sip wine and watch a movie.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Plein air in June

Fellow path pedestrians watch Jo Myers-Walker sketching in Iowa City

On location with my walker

Artists sketching en plein air along Iowa City path

Artists sketching along the path

A group of us got together to sketch en plein air in Iowa City, following along a walking/biking path through the east side area. We could see from the path into the back yards as neighbors were gardening. I gave the others a viewfinder with these directions:

“Sketching” is a grace filled moment, a time to see the natural world that surrounds us. We see the birds, the plants, and even the stones as they come alive to tell stories and memories, reminding us who we are and what we value. Note everything is not perfect; there is a crack in everything, and that is how the light gets in* to illuminate the beauty. This is how we learn to truly see and be in the moment, letting the daily care be set aside for a bit.

My knees have been affecting my mobility so I am using my walker as a sketching surface. It is great as I can wheel around carrying sketchbook, a little paint, brush, and water in the seat and then stop wherever to draw/paint.

* (From lyrics by Leonard Cohen, and an earlier quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Plein air drawing and painting in Iowa City

My walker as easel

Watercolor sketchbook and written reflections

Sketchbook and thoughts on plein air

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Window on the world

Detail of watercolor Iowa City street scene by Jo Myers-Walker

Detail with “bird man” on the
sidewalk in white coat

When I’m at home I do my morning meditation at the window. It is so peaceful and a great way to get in touch with nature from the 11th floor, where I see the snow, rain and birds, helicopters, planes, people working on the rooftops or entertaining, students walking/ talking/ arguing.

This past winter I often saw the “bird man” who came out in a white coat and whistled for the birds who flew down for their feeding. I painted him and the birds into this view of the city from my window.

Photo and watercolor of street in Iowa City seen from above, by Jo Myers-Walker

Window view, in photo and watercolor

Posted in Studio Snapshots

The “Coverdale Art Institute”

Artists painting at a watercolor workshop facilitated by Jo Myers-Walker

Painting with the group  (photos courtesy of Mike Coverdale)

These photos are from our retreat at the Coverdales’ farm home earlier this month. The “Coverdale Art Institute” all started with Mike giving Judy a Christmas present of painting with me for a day. Their home was a retreat for me out in the country, and we had such a fun time we decided to try it as a location for workshops.

Artists at a watercolor workshop show their work

Students worked from my painting “Summer,” shown at bottom right  (photos courtesy of Mike Coverdale)

This workshop started by painting watercolor techniques on a pop-up card, something to remind the painter of the lessons taught. St. Francis came along with us and became a swish of paint in many colors to demonstrate value, keeping it simple. Then we were ready to paint from one of my paintings (“Summer”) and I showed them how to start with a loose and juicy background and coming forward with the farm house and more detail. By then we were laughing about the farmers and chickens, having fun.

Artist showing watercolor painting of trees; a tree's shape suggests a dragon

Left:  Painting from nature  (photo courtesy of Mike Coverdale)
Right:  We saw a dragon in the shape of this tree  (photo courtesy of Bonnie Dix)

One of the artists painted some trees from looking out the window, so we all decided to get up and go outside to study subjects to paint in May when the buds will be on the trees with the far-away farm up the hill.

Followup:  We had such a positive response that we had two more retreat days, one in May and one in July. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

Posted in Studio Snapshots