Not Just A Pretty Face #art #contemporaryart

In addition to being an artist, I am a budding art collector. My fourth purchase of original art just arrived by UPS. I was so excited when I saw the package was from the Lois Lambert Gallery in Los Angeles. Some of you may know I’ve switched to being a full-time artist from corporate marketeer, so I could ill afford, really, to buy a piece of art. But I was cold calling galleries in November and I saw this photograph. It immediately spoke to me and I had to have it.

Tamar Levine - What A Life #5 - Digital Photograph - 1/15 - 2014

Tamar Levine – What A Life #5 – Digital Photograph – 1/15 – 2014

The fall had been a tough time to say the least. My on again off again relationship was off again at the end of the summer, this time permanently I believe. There were other things going on in my life that were difficult, hard choices to move my creative life forward at the expense of material security among other things. Those close to me were experiencing hardship and uncertainty. All of which had me feeling adrift.

When I opened the box I was moved to tears. Because emotionally this photograph is right where I am at. I thought to myself, this is the pure purpose of art, to make us feel. Because when we allow ourselves to feel, we become whole. We heal. It also helped me accept life. This is life after all. We sometimes feel adrift. We are constantly challenged. It never ends. We reach one pinnacle, only to find another calls our name. This photograph and the photographer also made me feel as though I was not alone. It pointed me to our shared humanity. Which is such a gift these days in an isolated world of sole proprietorship, telecommuting and social networking rather than face time.

One of the good things that happened this fall was finding an art gallerist in Florida who really seems to understand my work and what it is about, the drive for conscious evolution and spiritual healing toward enlightenment. The first step to transcending where we are is to acknowledge where we are and to feel.

“I want to encourage people to experience feelings and memories that they have lost touch within the course of their lives. If for one moment in an individual’s day they can step away from the confines of the structure of their life and indulge their eyes and minds in a work of art, perhaps they can reconnect with a part of themselves or of the world that might otherwise be forgotten.” – Jessica Salameh, Wall Street Fine Art, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

That’s what Tamar Levine’s photograph does for me. Like the model, it brings me right beneath the surface of the ocean of my mind and plunges me into feeling. So yes, when buying art we sometimes want it to make us feel good and we sometimes want it to match the wall color or the couch and harmonize our surroundings. But that is not the most powerful purpose and application of art. Helping us drop into the ocean of our subconscious experience is. Thank you Tamar Levine for allowing me to know myself.


Enlightenment – Elevator Speech #art #abstractpainting #arts #enlightenment

I was at a party this weekend. My slightly beer-addled brain was unable to encapsulate exactly what it is I am doing with my art (add to that jammed circuits because my ex was present). Never mind describe the actual paintings (always very difficult). So when I got home, I  thought, I need to summarize this. Not just for my fellow humans, but for me. So here’s what I came up with that seemed to encompass 20+ years of painting and the evolution across a multitude of styles (see below):

Jill Joy - Intertwined - oil on canvas - 30x60 - 2014

Jill Joy – Intertwined – oil on canvas – 30×60 – 2014

“My work is essentially about enlightenment: Transcending individual thoughts, emotions and experiences towards identification with something beyond the self that is universal and all encompassing. My art seeks to understand our place in the universe, the transience of life and the existence of a broader vibrational field of love that encompasses us all.”

Jill Joy - Growth - oil on canvas - 60x48

Jill Joy – Growth – oil on canvas – 60×48

The Artist Purges Her Wound

I just got back from 10 days in Europe where I was immersed in the work of French American Artist, Niki de Saint Phalle. A friend of mine works for her foundation and among other things we went to the opening of a museum retrospective of her work at the Grand Palais in Paris and then her Tarot Sculpture Garden in Tuscany.

Les Trois Grâces, 1994

Niki de Saint Phalle – Les Trois Grâces, 1994

I can honestly say I am inspired by her. Not so much by the late work that made her famous (above), but more so by her early work and the process of her life, the progression of her art and the sacrifices she made. Her work crosses the trajectory from the purging of the darkness of early wounds to the reaching for something universal and joyful in her well known “Nana” sculptures.


Early Bride Sculpture – Niki De Saint Phalle – La Femme Mariee

This photo of one of her brides is hard to appreciate if you don’t see it in person. It’s a collage of plastic spiders and babies and other disturbing things. A dark commentary on the limitations imposed on women when forced to uptake the role of wife and mother by conditioning rather than choice.

She was molested by her father as a child and much of her early work is purging the anger and sadness and sense of betrayal this caused her as well as divesting herself of society’s expectations of her as a woman to be a wife and mother. Some of her earliest work, the Shooting Paintings, express outrage against injustice of all sorts especially against the innocent.





Why am I so taken with this woman’s story? It is the parallels that validate my own path as an artist that make is so powerful for me. I too have seen my work move from the dark, violent and personal to something purer, simpler and more universal or illuminated.

Jill Joy - Love and Betrayal - mixed media on canvas - 48x72" 2007

Jill Joy – Love and Betrayal – mixed media on canvas – 48×72″ – 2007

 I too have struck on simpler, purified work that seems to have more commercial viability.

Jill Joy - Gathering Storm - oil on canvas - 48x72 -2014

Jill Joy – Gathering Storm – oil on canvas – 48×72 – 2014

I too knew and released the confines of traditional marriage and family. I too have had an on again, off again lover and muse who I simply can not shake despite the best efforts and advice of my friends and therapist. I too have sacrificed my health and wealth to create art.

But perhaps more than all of that was my appreciation for her early work and how it caused me to appreciate mine. What I saw in the retrospective at Le Grand Palais was not only the accomplishment and appeal of the later work, but how much the humanity and the personal struggle of Niki’s early work spoke to me. It was like watching the progression from the human to the divine condition. It was the human condition that spoke to me, stayed with me, haunted me. And it seemed much of that early work is still in the possession of her foundation. Niki, perhaps more than I up to this point, understood its value and spent the money and effort to warehouse it, never discarding or destroying it.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle

Meanwhile I have been balking at storing my early work because it’s too confusing to market to art industry people as I try to make a name and a living for myself. It has felt like a weight on me, a burden, not just because of the physical space it takes up but because it represents old, now dead, released painful emotional experience. Stacks and stacks of canvases that chronicle my personal pain and grief as I released my marriage, my emotionally abusive relationships with my parents and of course my on again off again relationship which triggers all of that old stuff every time it ends.

Learning about Niki and her work made me appreciate myself. She validated my struggles as an artist and confirmed the courage it takes to give everything else up. She caused me to appreciate the journey from personal pain to universal illumination. Even at the end the beginning is present. We hold its hand as we walk into the light.

Jill Joy - Selfie at Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden in Tuscany

Jill Joy – Selfie at Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Tuscany

For the Self Reliant Valentine

Valentine’s day…the holiday of hearts and love. I have one here for you. Maybe for you or the one you love. A painting about independence, resilience and self love in the face of disappointment and the challenges life throws at us, teaching us to love ourselves above others so we can truly love others and have relationships that go beyond an exchange of need. How do we ever find true and unconditional love unless we learn to give it to ourselves? The poem below goes with this painting. Interested in purchase? Contact Jill

Jill Joy - Self Love Trumps Heartbreak - mixed media on canvas - 44x44" - 2006 - $2,400 includes shipping in the US

Jill Joy – Self Love Trumps Heartbreak – mixed media on canvas – 44×44″ – 2006 – $2,400 –  includes shipping in the US














I am the sea I’ve been seeking,
An ocean of love so pure.
A body of water to swim in
Endlessly without reaching shore.

I thought it was you and you and you,
But then you were there no more.
I kept thinking I’d find the one
If I knocked on a million doors.

Now I realize it’s just me.
As it has been all along.
A million melodies in the world
Only I can sing my song.

I can swim forever
Swim forever without end.
In the body of water that is me,
I am my own best friend.

Other people will float in my ocean,
Islands of pain and delight.
I am the vastness they reside in
An ocean of clear white light.

(c) Jill Joy



It’s All Love #art

Jill Joy - Its All Love - oil and metal leaf on canvas - 60x48 -2013

Jill Joy – Its All Love – oil and metal leaf on canvas – 60×48″ -2013 – Sold

This painting was inspired by my continued quest to acknowledge love where it exists and to surrender to its power to transform and liberate me. It was painted while I listened to Madness by Muse. While this piece is about human love, it’s also about the aspect of divine love that exists within human love. Divine love – unyielding, unchanging, all powerful.

I grew up fairly emotionally isolated – my father left our family when I was 9 and my mom was a single working mother struggling with alcoholism.

Jill Joy - Studio View - Nov 2013 - "It's All Love" and "No Dark Without The Light" - New Avaialble Work

Jill Joy – Studio View – Nov 2013 – “It’s All Love” and “No Dark Without The Light” – New Work

I learned to be independent but possibly to a fault. Without realizing it I learned to push love away in an effort to protect myself by maintaining my independence. This painting is part of my journey to letting love in when and where it truly exists, not always easy for me to discern.

I lived with this painting for a while in my studio apartment once it was completed. It was an intense experience. I felt like I was in the presence of that demanding, transformative power that Love is. The heavy texture with the metal leaf combined to make the painting a living, breathing, ever-changing experience as the light played across as the sun moved across the sky each day.

It was purchased yesterday by one of my best clients. I was blown away that she could connect with and appreciate such an vital and intense painting. I am grateful it has found an appreciative new home.

Small Works – I’m Only Sleeping #art

Many of you ask to be pointed in the direction of small, affordable work from the body of my collection. Here is one I love and have hung in my home until recently. Contact me at if you are interested in pricing.

Jill Joy - I'm only sleeping - mixed media on canvas - 20x20" - 2007

Jill Joy – I’m only sleeping – mixed media on canvas – 20×20″ – 2007

The title comes from the Beatles song and refers to the eastern spiritual idea that we are dreaming this reality. As I get older and develop myself spiritually, I get a sense of this more and more strongly, just as I get a sense of the blurring between my dream world and my waking life.

Dreams, I believe, are how our soul communicate to us. Well, it’s one of the ways. In choosing to pursue art full time, my soul’s calling, I have begun to feel I am living closer and closer to my soul with each passing day. Thus despite the discomforts of my new life, financial uncertainty, smaller cheaper housing, etc. I find myself if not happier, then more content or satisfied.

The EX

This is a photo of my ex-husband and me the last time we were together a couple of years ago when he came out to California from New York. We had been separated and divorced for about 5 years at this time.

Mies-&-Jill-Laguna-Many people, it seems, have fraught relationships with their exes. While Mies and I have navigated some difficult times, somehow we have managed to remain friends and supporters of each other. I like to think this is because we always were friends, even when we were married. Honestly though, I think it’s more than that.

Mies-&-Jill-Laguna-1-When Mies and I were separating in 2002, his friend Alex, a talented astrologer, read our joint chart and felt certain we should stay together. I knew in my heart that was not the best course. All of these years later I feel that Mies and I made the right decision to part as a married couple. I went on to devote myself completely to making art and he went on to have a family. I was able to move to a climate that soothed my soul in San Diego, he was able to stay in his family home and nourish his roots in New York.

But over the years we have remained a source of support for each other and a touchstone in difficult or uncertain times. We help each other out with various projects we are working on and generally know the other is out there routing for us even though we are not married anymore.

So what was Alex the astrologer tapping into when he thought we should stay together? What has sustained a friendship when so many divorces result in bitterness an acrimony? I believe that Mies and I share a soul connection that transcends the form of our relationship. Our married life had run its course. Because we managed to move beyond blame (which, believe me, we both indulged in off and on over the first several years of our breakup) we have been able to accept the change in our relationship and still value the love between us. We were no longer happy together as husband and wife and seemed to compete daily for time, money and attention. Now that we are apart and have fulfilled ourselves, we seem to be able to draw from the best in each other.

I think we are fortunate when we have a few key allies in this life, people who will “have our back”. I’m happy to count Mies among my allies. His place in my life is only strengthened by the fact that he is also one of the people who has know me the longest. Those who have seen us through many phases are in the unique position to give us perspective when we need it.

This is, as you know, primarily and art and poetry blog. So what has this got to do with art? I believe that true artists create life on their own terms. The art they produce is an expression of that.Without necessarily realizing it or planning it, Mies and I were able to create divorce on our own terms and retain the love, if not the form, of of the relationship. The root of the word divorce is divertere, which in Latin means to divert. Our paths did indeed diverge. But I am happy to say we still remain connected. We all live so long now and have so many lives, perhaps it’s time we start to look at divorce as a new beginning rather than a tragedy.