The Reluctant Artist: Joanna Athey



Joanna Athey never intended to be an artist. Art didn’t interest her. She didn’t take art classes in high school or college. She didn’t feel drawn toward art or think that it was missing in her life.

“I felt that I did not have the ability to express myself in any form of art,” she says.

She did other things: knitting, needlepoint and crewel embroidery; she designed and braided rugs from used wool clothing as well as new wool. She didn’t equate making things with making art. She had children. She worked at life.

But then she retired and moved to Charles Town, WV, in 1994 and began taking watercolor classes from local artists. She had to be persuaded to take the first class where, she feels, she “didn’t do well” and had to be pushed to continue. It was a collage class that hooked her, that showed her the materials and methods that spoke to the art she was meant to make. She has now studied with noted artists from all over the United States as well as Canada and England.

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