Joanna Dole grew up on a lake in Holliston with plenty of woodsy areas to make for a child artist’s paradise. “I drew and painted from a very early age. I was always drawing something… I won many first prizes at my church annual art shows. My mother also brought art and culture to the family. She brought us to the MFA to appreciate the impressionist painters she loved, to the ballet and musical performances…she made us handmade paper dolls and did portraits of us. She introduced us to the MFA and the impressionists she loved.” Dole attended Emmanuel College and started out as a biology major. When she encountered an expansive array of art classes, she decided to switch her major, to her father’s chagrin, and attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Education. During college, she spent a semester studying Italian and fine art in Rome, Italy. “It was wonderful: we traveled in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, England and France as well as the Greek islands. I developed a love of cooking while there as well as a love of Italy. I have traveled back there many times.”
After graduating, Dole took on the challenging work of a high school art teacher in the Boston City schools of Charlestown and Dorchester. While teaching, she took classes at Mass College of Art and Design where she received a Master’s Degree in both Art and Education. Teachers and mentors that have been important to her work are watercolorist of Maine, Paul George, Winslow Homer, Newton’s Wendy Artin, Anne Blair Brown of Nashville and Roberto Zangarelli of Rome, Italy. She also emulates the works of Sargent and Homer.
While still teaching, Dole moved to Wellesley and raised her three children. While mostly as a stay-at-home mom when they were young, she always continued creating art and joined the WSA then. She took on projects painting furniture and walls, murals, frames, wall surfaces, and Trompe-l’oeil in her Decorative Painting business. She decorated the former Wellesley Inn restaurant with wall murals, worked in private homes and businesses and contributed work in decorator showhouses. These projects led her into the Interior Design business for the past twenty years. She developed her own business called Art and Design Solutions featured on Houzz.
The StoryDole also has a love of portraiture, especially children, and has done commission work. She has won multiple awards, especially for portraiture, and has sold many paintings. Her first love is watercolor but she also uses water soluble oils. With either medium she is “not afraid of color and paint(s) vibrantly.” Up to this point, Dole’s work is mainly representational painting but “I am trying out looser and more abstract images now. In my portraits, I’ve always used a less-than-precise interpretation, allowing the paint to guide me.”
Dole ponders, “As I’m getting closer to retirement, I’m painting more for my own enjoyment. It gives me so much pleasure…it’s like a meditation.” She bought a house on a lake in Natick and enjoys the natural surroundings which are reminiscent of her childhood. She converted a screened porch into her studio and enjoys abundant wildlife; “I’ve seen a blue heron, bald eagle and in the winter there are otter.” She has been a long-time member of the WSA, North River Arts in Marshfield and the Newton Watercolor Society. She had joined the Florida Keys Watercolor Society and served on the board there for 5 years, as well as for the WSA.