Internationally Shown Artist • Top-Rated Radio Show Host
Home & Heritage March 2005 story by Lauren Lewis
photos by Robert Bunch
"For years, she heard those childhood voices telling her she had no talent. She finally shut them out — and proved them wrong."
“It all goes back to childhood. I loved art. I really wanted to paint, but I was told I had no talent. I couldn't do realistic stuff,” says Paula Joyce matter-of-factly.
But anyone that knows Joyce today might disagree. Her artwork — handpainted silks — is starting to gain recognition, popping up in places such as the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art and drawing the attention of famous clothing designers such as Nicole Miller, who’s a fan of her work. Joyce’s home in North Dallas is covered, wall-to-wall, with her brightly hued silk designs showcasing her Pollock-meets-Marley style of scattered brush strokes.
Some of the pieces are framed; some of them incorporated into sculpture and some — scarves or shawls — serve a dual function as home décor and wardrobe pieces.
It’s hard to believe Joyce only started painting six years ago. She admits letting life get the best of her, pushing aside her artistic dreams to become a wife, mother and educator.
“I always felt a tug that I would get back to it,” she says.
And she did.
After her last job ended, Joyce began playing around with paints, and her daughter convinced her to do a show. From there, she began entering more shows and working with several merchants as well as the Museum of Modern Art’s gift shop to display and sell her work.
She also started leading seminars and workshops as a life coach to help people unleash their creativity.
“I came upon this as a teacher when I wore one of my pieces. I had someone say ‘I could never do that.’ But they really can. I believe if I can do it, anybody can. We are all born creative; it just gets blocked as we grow through the process of socialization. It may be unintentional — it’s just growing up. But as an adult we can open up to that creative process,” Joyce says. “It’s all tied together.”
Although most of her work is abstract, Joyce says stories and images often emerge once she has finished the painting. For example, she did a banner in black and white that she says illustrated the life of her grandfather.
“These stories and figures, they just seem to come from the subconscious,” she says as she points out different features in the paintings that she noticed were symbolic only after she had completed them.
Joyce’s next step is to begin work on a series of Jewish prayer shawls. She also is hunting for a gallery that will represent her.
But as far as she’s concerned, it’s not about the money she makes from her work. It’s about the joy she gets from doing the work itself.
“I just love it. I get lost in it. I lose track of time, [of] myself, and I just wander in the beauty of creativity. I’m surprised when I've finished something and I look at what I've done,” she says. “And sometimes I can’t believe that I did that."
Paula Joyce began painting silk pieces only six years ago. Many of her pieces can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth
By ELIZABETH LANGTON / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
A single word inspired nine Dallas-area artists to create sculptures, paintings and photographs that, despite their distinctly varied appearances, are connected by culture and purpose.
Each artist made a piece specifically for the Yitzhak International Art Gathering, which drew 200 participants to Israel's Western Galilee region last month.
Yitzhak – the Hebrew name for Isaac that also means laughter – served as the theme. Modern-day Isaacs and Yitzhaks found their way into the art, as did the biblical story of God testing Abraham's faith by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The event was conceived more than four years ago as an exchange program between Jewish communities in Israel and the United States, said Renee Stanley, project coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
The resulting artwork may serve as a bridge between cultures, she said. "The work they came out with was very dynamic, very compelling. There was a focus on contemporary issues that face us in Dallas, America, Israel, all over the world. The images allowed us to come together around these issues," Ms. Stanley said.
Several of the participating artists said they were drawn to the project because of its connection to Israel.
Susan Kandell Wilkofsky had made several plans to go there, but the trips always fell through. Her grandfather, Yitzhak Gabriel, also wanted to visit but died without having gone, she said.
Ms. Wilkofsky created six nickel-plated boxes adorned with words celebrating the many aspects of Yitzhak – the power of laughter, famous scholarly and talented people named Isaac and Yitzhak, and her beloved grandfather.
"There were just so many tie-ins that were perfect for him. It was really special for me," she said. "He had always wanted to go to Israel, and he is in a sense there now."
Robin Sachs photographed 12 modern Isaacs of Dallas, of various ages, races and backgrounds. Her study is based on the Judaic tradition that parents receive a moment of prophecy that directs them to choose a name connected to the child's essence and who he will become.
" All of these people must be bound together in some way," she said.
During their visit, the artists toured regional historic sites, interacted with Israeli artists, watched performance art shows and attended lectures by area scholars.
" It was a wonderful program that stretched our minds and imaginations," Veronique Jonas said. "It's still with me."
Ms. Jonas' daughter, a professional dancer who lives in New York, also went on the trip. Nathalie Dessner created a dance to complement her mother's painting.
The lasting impression the trip left with Paula Joyce is that hope for change exists in Israel. In communities the artists visited, Arabs and Jews live peacefully together. A mime troupe of Arab and Jewish children performed during the Yitzhak event.
" There are these beautiful things happening that we don't read about," Ms. Joyce said.
The connections formed between the Israelis and American participants will help foster the change, she said.
"There were seeds planted there that we don't even know about yet but that will emerge in the future," she said. "We're at the beginning of something, but I believe that only good and more special things will come out of it. We just don't know what they are."
The Yitzhak event was a project of the Partnership with Israel, a collaboration of 13 U.S. communities and Western Galilee to promote stronger ties between the two countries' people.
Ms. Stanley said organizers hope to hold future Yitzhak gatherings and may bring this year's artwork, which is still on display in Israel, to the United States for a traveling show.
Elizabeth Langton is a Dallas-area freelance writer
From left: Renee Stanley, Veronique Jonas, Susan Kandell Wilkofsky, Julie Meetal Berman, Paula Joyce and Robin Sachs were among 10 artists representing Dallas in the Project Yitzhak International Art gathering.
Texas Jewish Post
Artist Paula Joyce paints one-of-a-kind chuppot to be used as family heirlooms
May 27, 2010
By Rachel Gross
Local artist Paula Joyce, seen here wearing one of her hand painted shawls, creates abstract chuppot that can later be used for other life cycle events.
Paula Joyce has a passion for abstract art, especially when it comes to weddings. The artist has now delved into the world of chuppah painting to create lasting heirlooms for couples.
Joyce created her ﬁrst chuppah for a trip to Israel with Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas ﬁve years ago. Al-though it was only used in an art exhibit, it provided an example of what a unique chuppah can look like.
She uses specially ordered paints and silk to design chuppot that match wedding themes and stained glass windows — whatever the couple wants. Her goal is to illuminate the joy of a wedding ceremony.
“We have such beautiful traditions,” she said. “To participate in those and add our own element with-in the bounds of what’s appropriate is lovely. That’s what Judaism is all about — joy and happiness. I want to help enhance that joy, connection with God, our history, meaningful rituals and life as a people.”
Joyce made a chuppah for her daughter’s wedding where she used the ketubah as the theme. She painted it to complement the ketubah and made silk centerpieces to match, which were given as thank you gifts for the wed-ding party.
Joyce painted this chuppah, aptly called the “Tree of Life,” which was shown in Israel and art studios in Dallas.
The chuppot, which can either be a piece of fabric over the top or cover the four poles, can also be used for various Jewish life cycle events, like bnai mitzvot, britot or baby namings.
“This is something that can be used within the family,” she said. “It would be nice for people to say ‘this was used at my bris and now I’m getting mar-ried under it.’ The chuppah binds a couple together, and is a symbol of the life they are going to create. It’s spe-cial for them to start on that path and then use the chuppah for other family events.”
Joyce has been painting for 40 years. She always wanted to paint as a child, but became discouraged when she was told she didn't have talent. After taking an oil painting class at her local JCC, she was hooked.
She started to paint on silk in 1998. She said she enjoys silk colors because they ﬂows better and allows paintings to be more abstract.
In addition to chuppot, Joyce paints tallitot, kippot, challah covers, scarves, wraps, dresses and silk ﬁne art pieces. She said it gives her pride to design meaningful art that people will keep forever.
“When I work with a piece, whether it’s a chuppah, a tallit, or a painting, I think about what the person needs,” she said. “It gives me joy to do this and I can capture the essence of who someone is.”
Not only is Joyce an accomplished artist, she is a life coach who helps people unleash their creative intelligence and use it to develop the work, relationships and health that they want. It’s these skills that help spark her creativity.
Joyce hopes to bring happiness to all and highlight the joy of marriage. “I want to be able to touch people’s souls and hearts and get below the surface,” she said. “There is a spiritual element involved with a chuppah and I want to capture that. I’d love to make people’s weddings everything they want them to be, and bring blessings to their wedding day and marriage.”
Former Dallasite Miriam Fried-man hired Joyce to paint kippot for her wedding. Her family still uses them each year for Passover and Rosh Hashanah.
Friedman said having these kippot made her wedding day more special.
“They were a wonderful asset to our ceremony and looked beautiful,” she said. “They are pieces of art that I can have forever and it was meaningful. Paula is talented and can do any-thing a client asks.”
On an order of ten million to one, brain researchers estimate that there is more information in the right (creative, in-tuitive, unconscious) brain than in the left (linear, logical, conscious) brain. As artists, it is essential that we learn how to dig deeply into the inﬁnite creative ﬂow that is available to each of us. The alternative is to skim the surface of our unique talent, denying ourselves and our clients unending growth, delight and richness of expression.
Playing With Windmills
There are two approaches to engaging in the creative process. The most com-mon one is to use your logical mind to determine what the completed project will look like before you ever begin. The less common approach is to focus on the process rather than the product. One way to do this is to lay out all of your painting materials, randomly choose a brush and a paint color and begin applying the paint to the silk with no concern for where the project is going.
The piece evolves brush stroke by brush stroke as you ask yourself,“What’s next?” always listening deeply for the authentic answer and allowing what is supposed to be painted through you to emerge onto the silk.
The latter is the way I paint and how I teach my clients to paint. We expand our creativity, listen carefully to the still voice within and ignore the voice that shouts, “This is the correct way.” When I paint, my main job is to kick out that critical voice that is always telling me what I am doing wrong, what’s pretty and what’s ugly and, of course, the question that stops creativity dead in its tracks: “Can I sell this?”
When we turn ourselves over to our creativity, we are tapping into a force much greater than ourselves. There are lots of names for this
Mother With Child
depending upon your spiritual beliefs: authentic self, higher self, God, energy, the Universe. We are all tapping into that part of ourselves that knows much more than we think we do. It’s the part that has been taking in the beauty of the world while our left brains were focusing on something else.
Painting with my right brain has brought me an array of surprising gifts. The main one has been discovering that I could paint. As a child, I was told both at home and at school, that I had no talent. It was so bad that I actually cheated in art class. What made it worse for me was that I had always had a strong desire to paint. As an adult, I took a few oil painting classes at a local recreational center be-cause I could work and rework the piece to make it “perfect." Later, I challenged myself to play with children’s watercolors without taking lessons. Eventually, I took about four silk painting classes and read a couple of books to get a few basics. Then I just began to explore, play and create without knowing where I was going—or what I was doing.
The result has been that ﬁgures appear in my paintings that I do not consciously put there. My pieces are often ﬁlled with dolphins, dragons, ﬁsh, birds, ﬂowers and people. For instance, during a lecture for a couture design class, I did a very quick silk painting demonstration, just putting color down to show them a simple technique. When I got the piece home, I couldn't remember where the “top” was. In turning it to look at diﬀerent views, I discovered that the painting was actually a large bird in an apple tree. It was very clearly a robin, which was my favorite bird when I was growing up in Detroit, Michigan. There aren't many robins in Dallas and none had been in my backyard over the years. Within the week, there were robins covering my side- and backyards. They stayed for days. Since I cannot paint realistically in any medium, allowing this robin to come through me felt mystical and in-credibly fulﬁlling.
As I continue to explore my creativity, I have added watercolors, metal sculpture, and mixed media and have even invented ways to display fashion as art on the walls. My work has been shown internationally, in the Canton Art Museum, and in juried art shows. It continues to sell through art museums and galleries as well as with fashion designers. For someone who had been convinced that she had no talent, I continue to be amazed by what is showing up in my life.
No matter how creative you are, there is always more creativity that is lying dormant. Shut out the negative voices, open yourself up to create from your soul and enjoy the beauty of your hidden gifts.
The Silkworm: The International Silk Painting Newsletter, 6
Dr. Paula Joyce
I had the pleasure of spending a week in Paris recently. Since it was August and vacation time for many Parisians, I was unable to meet silk painters or see silk exhibits as I had hoped. My main goal of receiving inspiration was easily met, however. There was no way to miss in the home of so much great art.
I feel a special connection with Monet, who has had a major influence on my painting. Although I have been to his home and gardens at Giverny, it is in Paris that I most feel the beauty and power of his painting. This year I discovered the Musee Marmottan, which has a large collection of work donated by Monet’s son. No reproduction I have ever seen has done justice to the way he varies color, brushstroke, paint thickness, and the placement of paint. The depth of feeling Monet evokes with a few simple strokes and the illusion—or impression—of a shape thus created was astounding to see in person. Nothing was sacrosanct. At times Monet dealt haphazardly with the edges, or even left them unpainted, sacrificing them to the essence of the moment. His sunlight was always captivating. At times it glistened with life as iridescent paint bounced off the canvas and grabbed my attention.
Wandering the streets Monet frequented also brought me closer to his work. I stopped to study the interplay of colors on Notre Dame Cathedral as the sun was setting. For a moment the cars, crowds and noise vanished as I imagined Monet there with his easel, hurrying to capture the image on canvas. When the light was gone for the day, I could see him peacefully packing up his paints, turning and walking a few steps to the Seine to relax before going home.
I was inspired just walking down the street. I would get lost in the beautiful architecture, often set off by the angles and shapes created as three or more streets poured into a central spot. And, of course, there’s the fashion. I didn’t need to look in store windows when the streets were filled with French women displaying their gift for style, grace and elegance. The flow, shape and drape of their outfits delighted me--a slit here or there going up to this height or that, and then suddenly a slanted line or unexpected detail would catch my eye. The variety and intrigue was endless. As I lingered at cafes, museums, famous squares, and fountains, ideas came to me as if a flood gate had been opened. I carried paper and pencil so as not to lose even one idea.
The beauty, the spontaneity and the joy of the city speak to my heart. I go into a kind of shock when I leave, which takes me days to shake. Bit by bit I reawaken to the surroundings of my own home. Yet a piece of me remains in Paris, thriving and forming a bridge to my life across the sea.