Thanks to Ryan Tramonte for his blog article on New Orleans.com

Last week the weather here was glorious. It was the kind of week when all seems right with the world. On one such day, I was painting a watercolor in the French Quarter when a handsome stranger stopped and asked a few questions for a blog interview he was writing about the French Quarter Fest,  an amazing festival featuring 3 full days of free music staged throughout the Quarter every April.
It turned out that the gentleman was Ryan Tramonte, who writes a very thoughtful and engaging blog on New Orleans.com. Today, Ryan totally caught me by surprise when he sent a link to this blog: 





Unlike any other
Written by Ryan Tramonte    Bookmark and Share   
blue-house-on-milan2.jpgVery often I find myself craving a conversation with my cousin Carrie. You see, most of my days are unbelievably busy. I spend an enormous amount of time dealing with humans who are not taking enough antidepressants. And the ones that are taking enough, need to start washing those pills down with Grey Goose. 

My cousin Carrie on the other hand is a joy to speak to. She is calm and quiet and although she is intelligent, she is intelligent enough to know when to keep her trap shut. Her most impressive attribute is that she is consistent. My grandmother (another favorite human of mine) always said that Carrie was her smartest grandchild. She claimed that speaking to Carrie made one feel more intelligent because Carrie herself was so intelligent. After I got over the jealous rage, I agreed.

As a child, Carrie played quietly, she spoke softly, and at times it would be hard to notice that she was even in the room. I always gravitated towards her calm and soothing nature. She definitely played, but while the rest of us look sweaty and dirty and as if we were playing, she was spotless, spotless just like her personality.

pink-and-yellow-roses-w-c.jpgThere are very few people that possess the kind of gift that Carrie has. I would go so far as to say that where humans are concerned, she is a work of art. A classic piece, one that make you wish you could paint like that, or sculpt that smoothly. One that makes you wish you had thought about putting those colors together. One that has you standing in front of it for hours in a museum ignoring your watch and annoyed when it is time to go. Carrie is the kind of human that is unlike any other kind of human.

Recently, I was walking on Toulouse Street rounding up folks for my Wednesday blog “Let’s take it outside” (if you are not reading it …you should be). As I did, I noticed a woman painting. I could tell from the lightweight easel and the delicate movement of her hands that she was working in watercolor. Much like my intrigue for my cousin Carrie, I found myself intrigued by this artist because I cannot work in watercolor.  Not only was I about to meet someone that was super interesting to talk about, I was about to meet someone that is producing some amazing watercolor works. Joan Dagradi was her name.

chocolate-glazeddo-nuts1.jpgAs is spoke to her, she explained that she has been setting up stage on the streets of the French Quarter and randomly painting the buildings and the architecture we see every day. Well, human score number one, if you can show me something I see every day, and make me see it differently, I am impressed. And there it was, the two buildings across the street from my office looking as if I had never seen them before.  We spoke a little more and exchanged cards and I continued on my journey of meeting new faces for NewOrleans.Com. I was happier than when I look in the mirror on my best day. That happiness was the seed for my research. It was the next day that I received an email from Joan. She was saying how wonderful it was to meet me and if I would be so kind as to include her in my blog, but I was already on it. As I researched this lady, I began to find images that were not just well done, but were also inspirational. Her method of creating watercolor images with weight and heaviness is amazing. (“Blue House on Milan”) Here is what I mean. Far too often in watercolor, we see the artist make light strokes and translucent images. These images are so light that they reveal the pencil marks from the underlying sketches. In art school, when we are taught to use watercolor, we are taught that the there is a method to follow, this method must be obeyed, or your temperamental medium will rebel and you will be left with a soupy mess and buckling paper. Watercolor is the only medium that in art school and lessons, students are encouraged to abandon their creativity and follow the rules. Watercolor is a medium unlike any other medium. 

joan-portrait-2bw-.jpgJoan is taking that unique medium and making it work for her. Her structures are solid and her images are complete, the buildings look and feel like buildings. You do not normally see through a wall. Why should you see through a wall, just because it is painted in watercolor? You shouldn’t. While her walls are solid and edged, the areas of foliage around them are as soft as if you could feel the plants themselves. This too is difficult, because Joan is giving you the same consistency in style and application, while using a different texture to create something that in real life is soft and delicate. This is noticeable in her floral work as well. (“Pink and Yellow Roses”) The flowers are soft and meet the background with a definite start and stop, but do not lose their delicate nature against a solid cement-like background. To take a medium that is as hard to maneuver as watercolor and make it look as if it is second-nature, is truly a talent.

Joan’s work in oils and pastel posses the same characteristics; strong solid images intertwined with delicate images creating a complete and harmonious canvas with consistency in style and application.   (“Glazed and Chocolate”) They possess a definite uniqueness. Joan is an artist unlike any other artist.

While consistency, calmness, and intelligence are things that make a person attractive to others, it is uniqueness that makes them stand out and create a class all their own … just like Joan’s watercolors and my cousin Carrie.

Joan’s work can be seen at www.joandagradi.com.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting such a great plug, Joan!

Serena Potter said...

What a lovely tribute and well deserved! I hope I can get back there to paint soon!

Casey Klahn said...

Nicely written piece. I got a glimpse of you working at your field easel by reading it!