From a young age, Joyce Lawrence knew she had a gift.
“My kindergarten schoolteachers called my parents in because they couldn’t believe what I was doing back then,” says Lawrence of her artwork. “When everyone else (in kindergarten) was drawing stick figures, I was painting people realistically.”
Despite this early knack for drawing, Lawrence veered away from art as she aged, thinking that she couldn’t prosper from it.
“But I rallied,” she says. “I was meant to do this and it’s worked out very well for me.”
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Lawrence, who is presently the signature artist at the Noyes Arts Garage through Jan. 8, 2017, honed her skills at Ocean County College, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Studio Incamminati.
She began getting her feet wet by painting many of the historical items in her hometown of Little Egg Harbor — things like an old elementary school, a deserted Esso lot, a former hotel.
“I painted memories that people had growing up in my hometown … things that no longer exist … to get my name out there.”
Now that she’s established, Lawrence, who also teaches art at her studio Bay Moon, paints what she wants — which are primarily oils of landscapes done en plein air. But Lawrence searches for more than just the perfect geographic location to recreate on canvas. She wants to find the right light and shadowing from which she can pull out the contrast, as well as great natural colors.
No matter where she winds up, what she really treasures, however, is finding the beauty in every scene, regardless of whether it’s a beach, a lake or even a barren snowscape.
“I like to find the beauty in my subject whatever that is,” says Lawrence, whose work can also be found at Lakeside Art Gallery in Tuckerton. “Many artists try to find what’s dark or find meaning in what’s negative. I think there’s enough negativity in the world. I ask myself what’s beautiful, rather than what’s dark. I prefer to find the beauty.”
Often Lawrence discovers that beauty in more obscure areas, such as the stern of a rickety old boat.
“I don’t think people would even think of painting the back end (of a boat),” she says of her painting “Clam Boat.” “(But) the light was so warm … the pinks in the sky … I think most would miss that. People might see white clouds, but they are not white.”
Her painting titled “Ocean Boulevard,” however, almost didn’t happen, mainly because she thought she couldn’t find any beauty that day.
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“It was a very dreary, cold day. I went out thinking it didn’t look too appealing to me,” she recalls. “(But) the contrast of the waves and the feeling of that atmosphere was quite beautiful. It doesn’t shout at you. It’s beautiful in itself.”