Amana workshop 2019

Group photo of educators participating in Artistic Journal Making workshop led by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Our creative group of educators

A workshop participant selects colorful paper shapes to add to a three-dimensional artwork

Assembling pieces for a 3-D scene

It’s always a pleasure to return to beautiful Amana, this time to lead a four-day Artistic Journal Making workshop at Amana Arts Guild. The workshop was part of the Art Iowa Workshops offered every year in cooperation with Grant Wood AEA to provide continuing education for educators. We explored how the components of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) can bring together “left brain” and “right brain” approaches and provide a new perspective for problem solving.

The class used a variety of artistic techniques and reflective exercises to create colorful three-dimensional popup art journals. The teachers really had to work the “left brain,” measuring and planning for the precision needed to make the popups work. One idea led to another and they truly enjoyed it. We employed Science using the cotton paper, Engineering and Architecture to make things stand up, and Art for the creative messages.

Two views of a three-dimensional paper scene

Tunnel popup by Maggie, two views to show its construction

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Remembering Charles Reid

Artist Charles Reid paints a cowboy figure at an easel during a 2015 workshop

Learning from watching Charles Reid’s painting technique (2015 workshop)

I was saddened to learn of the death of artist Charles Reid, whose painting style I admire and whose teaching has been an inspiration.

My sketchbooks tell the stories of his workshops I was fortunate to attend (one in 2010 and one in 2015), with plenty of notes alongside the artwork where I tried to write down everything he said. He quietly encouraged me and I learned so much from him.

See also (earlier blog posts):
Pages from Jo Myers-Walker's sketchbook with floral watercolor paintings and notes

Floral sketchbook pages
from the 2010 workshop

Sketchbook pages with watercolor of seated man painted from life by Jo Myers-Walker plus small instructional sketch by Charles Reid

My painting on the left; Charles sketched the
little figure at right to demonstrate proportion.

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Painters at the festival

A group of five artists poses at a watercolor demonstration tent during the 2019 Iowa Arts Festival

Artists and watercolor class members
Jeanette, Lois, Sally, Thia and Tracy
(Photo courtesy of Lois A.)

Three artists demonstrate watercolor techniques under a tent at the 2019 Iowa Arts Festival

Three painters demonstrate their styles
(at right is Dorothy)
(Photo courtesy of Lois A.)

Jo Myers-Walker's work displayed inside Iowa Artisans Gallery in Iowa City for the 2019 Iowa Arts Festival

My climate-controlled corner

Thank you to all the students stopping by to demonstrate or show enthusiasm for the Iowa Artisans Gallery and our amazing gang of painters!

Above:  Some of the students who took turns demonstrating painting techniques during the recent Iowa Arts Festival, under a tent outside Iowa Artisans Gallery.

At right:  The Gallery graciously hosted my artwork during the festival.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Iowa Arts Festival 2019

A woman in a flowing dress walks along Iowa Avenue in Iowa City, watercolor painting by Jo Myers-Walker

A Writers’ Workshop
writer downtown

Update:  Iowa Arts Festival has ended for 2019. Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

(Original post:)
Thanks to Iowa Artisans Gallery, I will be inside during this year’s Iowa Arts Festival away from the wind, so my friends will not have to hold my booth on all four corners (see last year’s post)!

Iowa Artisans Gallery is hosting me in a nice space inside their front door at 207 East Washington Street (Iowa City, IA), while outside under a tent, my watercolor class members will be taking turns demonstrating painting techniques. I will be showing new work — downtown Iowa City scenes, new birds and small scenes — along with Creating for a Cause cards and scarves to benefit Lila Mae’s House.

The Iowa Arts Festival is “an award-winning, weekend-long community celebration featuring over 110 local and national visual artists,” so check out all the activities if you’re in town!

Watercolor sketchbook showing scene of Iowa Avenue in Iowa City by Jo Myers-Walker

Preparing a sketch for a painting of Iowa Avenue

Watercolor street scene of Iowa Avenue in downtown Iowa City by Jo Myers-Walker

Iowa Avenue street scene

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Spring graduates

Two watercolor paintings by Jo Myers-Walker of Iowa Avenue in Iowa City busy with pedestrians including recent college grads

University of Iowa graduates approach along Iowa Avenue in
downtown Iowa City, with the Old Capitol Building in the distance

In honor of my granddaughter’s graduation I painted these scenes of Iowa Avenue in Iowa City, with Maddie and her roommates in their graduation attire. I reminded the graduates that they may remain friends forever after living together for four years. I still see my former ISU roommate and other amazing women I lived with in those college days.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Octagon Shop revisited

Artist Jo Myers-Walker poses in front of the Octagon Gallery Shop in Ames, Iowa with fabric print of one of her watercolor paintings

In front of the shop with “Laundry Day” fabric print

Ames still feels like my hometown and the Octagon is where I got my start. It was great to be back, bringing paintings and prints for the Octagon Gallery Shop!

The original paintings are “Backyard Chickens” (16″ x 20″) and “Waiting for Supper” (20″ x 25″), and the large polyester print is “Laundry Day” (30″ x 40″). There are also lots of my bird prints and several pillows, among the works of “over 180 area artists.”

The shop is at 413 Douglas Avenue in downtown Ames, next door to the Octagon’s Community Gallery.

Works by artist Jo Myers-Walker shown on display at the Octagon Gallery shop in downtown Ames, Iowa

Inside the Octagon Gallery Shop:
“Laundry Day” polyester print is shown above the interior doorway into the
Community Gallery, and my original paintings on the opposite wall.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Florida revisited

Watercolor painting of people in brightly-colored clothing walking along a Florida beach by Jo Myers-Walker

An earlier impression of people on the beach

Detail of watercolor painting in progress by Jo Myers-Walker showing masking used to preserve white space

Masking to leave white space
for a new painting’s seagulls

Several years ago I visited friends in Florida to soak up the atmosphere and paint three scenes of South Beach for them. I could smell the ocean, observe the people and hear a variety of languages as they passed by. The area is known for its Art Deco buildings and museum, and looks different than any other place I’d been.

Recently a visitor noticed the watercolors in my friends’ building and commissioned two large paintings using the same style and subject matter. Although I never got to talk with him about what he wanted, he trusted I would find a way to personalize the new work. I did research and sent smaller preliminary watercolor sketches to make sure I was on the right track. Then I could feel comfortable starting on the final, larger paintings.

Preliminary watercolor painting of beach scene in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Preliminary sketch of a beach scene

Preliminary watercolor painting of Ocean Drive in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Preliminary sketch of scene along Ocean Drive

As I got into it, the story started flowing like a novelette. Each of the characters has their own things to do. A sunbather gestures to illustrate the story she’s telling. Skateboarders and roller skaters roll along Ocean Drive while passersby admire sports cars on the street. Between the sketches and the final paintings, a beach umbrella and pedestrian’s bag have taken on the colors of the Italian flag, and a beach chair has the Ferrari logo.

It was enjoyable to take a mental trip to Florida again as our wind chills were -60 in Iowa at the time; made me warm just thinking about it.

Watercolor painting of beach scene in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Final painting of the beach scene, 30″ h x 40″ w

Watercolor painting of scene along Ocean Drive in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Final painting of Ocean Drive scene, 30″ h x 40″ w.
The ocean is to the left, beyond the painting’s view.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Figure painting

Different students' painting of the same sketch of walking figures to practice watercolor shading technique

An exercise in shading —
students’ painting using my outline
(photo courtesy of Mary D.)

Watercolor painting of pedestrians viewd from above by Jo Myers-Walker

View from the second floor

People bring a painting alive. My classes want to put people in their landscapes, so I painted different points of view as examples. Above left, since we didn’t have a live model, as a way to teach technique I sketched two figures using tracing paper over a painting of mine. Students copied the outline by holding up watercolor paper over the sketch in a bright window. With the outline to start from, they could focus on that lesson’s techniques of watercolor shading.

Above right, I was enjoying the shadows of people walking by. It feels kind of voyeuristic to paint people if they don’t know I’m painting them, so I try to be respectful of their privacy in the artwork. I have many journals full of people I’ve sketched and those same people end up in my paintings. I cut them out and start placing them in a watercolor to get the story going.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Shop for Lila Mae’s House (sticky post)

Now you can order Creating for a Cause products online at Shop to Shelter for Lila Mae’s House! (external website,

See my Creating for a Cause page for background on this special collection of notecards, scarves, and bags featuring images from my artwork, developed to promote awareness and to raise money for organizations working against human trafficking. The section Help us “Create for a Cause!” tells about workshops where we make the pouches to bundle the notecards.

(This post is “stickied” to remain at the top of the blog; newer blog posts may appear below.)

Posted in Uncategorized

Joyful flowers

Floral arrangements delivered to Jo's car by wagon and pedal power

Wagon delivery service

Watercolor images inspired by arrangements of spring flowers

Floral inspiration

For a recent family wedding the groom’s brother, an event florist, created wonderful floral arrangements for the reception tables. Afterward my grandson put some in his wagon and pedaled them out to my car to take with me. My watercolor class members brought them from the car for us to paint and enjoy their beauty.

Posted in Studio Snapshots