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Maine Studio 2021

Joanna Logue was born in the Hunter Valley in NSW Australia. She graduated from the City Art Institute with a B.A in Visual arts and went on to gain a graduate diploma in professional art studies, majoring in painting.

Since then she has exhibited extensively in major cities through-out Australia, having made over 22 solo exhibitions. 

Joanna’s paintings have been collected by major corporations, regional galleries and universities. She works from her studio in NSW, Australia and also lives and works on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine in the USA. She is represented by King Street Gallery on William in Sydney and Scott Livesey Galleries in Melbourne.



Carl Little: Landscape Revelations

For more than a century and a half Mount Desert Island has served as muse to landscape painters, from Thomas Cole and Frederic Church in the mid-1800s to a host of contemporary artists drawn to its transcendent reaches. Undaunted by this legacy, Joanna Logue, in her brief residency, has carved out a place in this rich continuum, developing her own language to create paintings that speak to a formidable sense of place.   
Since moving to Maine two years ago, Logue has immersed herself in the landscape. She has walked the carriage roads of Acadia National Park, hiked mountains and explored remote ponds and marshes. She has favorite places, like Witch Hole Pond and the water meadow at Sieur de Monts Springs. She visits these sanctuaries and absorbs them.  

And when Logue finds a motif that speaks to her, she makes a small plein-air gouache study, takes it back to her light-filled studio in Somesville and transforms it into one of her stunning oils. While maintaining the freshness and energy of what is essentially an emotional response to the natural world, she constructs a new vision, intellectually considered and visually compelling. 

“I want the painting to draw the viewers in, I want them to be involved with, and seduced by, the painted surface,” Logue explains on a bright June morning, inviting a visitor to stand close to Water Meadow 1. From a foot or so away, the painting is a complex and robust layering of marks, scrapes, and scars, some made with a trowel. As one steps back from the canvas, the surface coalesces into a stunning woodland scene, a lively mosaic of birches and foliage reflected in water.     
If the plein air studies Logue makes capture the immediate setting, the paintings that follow distill and abstract the view to its essential shapes—a path through blueberry bushes, a line of birches against the sea. Indeed, for her the landscape is the departure point for abstraction. She could never start from nothing, as the Abstract Expressionists often did; she must have that foundation from which to make her forays into the non-representational. 

After painting for thirty years in Australia, Logue has had to learn a new language in her Maine home. For one thing, she has moved from a tertiary palette to a more colorful spectrum, embracing the bright display of a New England autumn. The island landscape also has more contrast and is more intricate, requiring extra drawing. Adding a bleached wax to her medium allows Logue to push the paint around in order to capture the energy of the scene.  
The solidity of the landscape also attracts the painter, be it an island edging into the view or rock outcroppings in the forest. In Granite Country, the gray stone serves as a kind of underpinning to the flux of nature, of bulrushes and birches and reflecting water. Logue is excited by this painting, a seminal piece and the launching point for future work.  

In the end, Logue approaches each painting as a challenge to free herself of constraint. She never wants to stay with what is safe; she is always pushing through to something new. “I need the painting to teach me a new way of looking at the world,” she says. We look on in wonder, grateful to have this master painter re-engage us with what lies before us, in a manner both revelatory and brilliant.
Carl Little is a regular contributor to Hyperallergic and Art New England.

His books include Edward Hopper’s New England, The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent and, with his brother David, Art of Acadia.   

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