Joanna Mckethan

the playful realist

by AnnaScott Cross

Ever since drawing pictures on the walls above her crib as a very young child, Joanna McKethan has been creating art. From graphite drawing to oil painting to watercolors, Joanna’s realistic style has placed her work among the cutting edge of art exhibits.

Joanna was born and raised in Harnett County, her family moving here eight generations ago. She even lives on the same property that her ancestors bought when they first moved to the area. She currently owns her own business in Dunn, Art on Broad Atelier/j’Originals’ Art Studio, where she displays her work and teaches art lessons to both adults and children. She has owned this business for thirty-seven years. Joanna shares that she, “Always knew [she] wanted to do her own thing,” and owning her own business has allowed her to pursue her artistic endeavors.

Her work has been on display in the Broad Street Deli and Market in Dunn, North Carolina, the Dunn Area History Museum, Campbell University, SAS Institute in Cary, North Carolina, and Wake Medical Center. Her paintings also hang in numerous private collections both in the area and around the U.S. and in Europe, and have been shown in numerous galleries, published in literary journals, and have won numerous awards in juried art shows.

For inspiration, Joanna says that she loves the masters, particularly Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, and Mikhail Wrubel. Wrubel especially has influenced her work, as she teaches and uses his prismatic color consciousness. She shares that she enjoys Russian artists in particular, because of their dramatic style and rough brush strokes.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Joanna took a job in Germany interviewing couriers traveling into communist countries and writing about their story. While there, she received Old Masters training in oil painting from the master artist Herr Bergheim in Munich, and was later mentored by Herman Winter in Watzling. She went on to receive a certificate of mastery of watercolor painting from the Polish master Léon Jonczyk, who was a professor at the University of Munich. It was here that she got her start with teaching, putting together courses for Jonczyk. Her education in the arts also includes studying drawing, composition, and design at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina; studying printmaking at Methodist College in Fayetteville, North Carolina; studying figure drawing from New York Artist’s League teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina; and studying Old Masters’ portraiture in Colorado under the famed oil painter Thomas Buechner of Corning, New York. She is a signature member of both the Southern Watercolor Society and the Watercolor Society of North Carolina, and a member of the Portrait Society of America.

In the future, Joanna hopes to build her presence across the U.S. and abroad, having pieces in significant shows and long-term galleries, and possibly even traveling to do portraits.

While Joanna McKethan has a most impressive resume when it comes to art, her artistic ventures don’t stop there. She has also published four novels, two permafree books, and four how-to books. She wrote her first poem at the age of six while on a family vacation, won first place for an American Girl short story at the age of sixteen, and is a published poet in numerous literary journals and anthologies as well as having been a writer-in-residence at Weymouth Center in Southern Pines and at the former Arts Center at Mt. St. Francis, Indiana. In addition to this she was Assistant Editor at University of Kentucky's Cooperative Extension Service in Lexington and Writer at Universal Verlag in Starnberg, Germany. She describes her novels as gothic romances with elements of mystery and spies, featuring a North Carolinian heroine with a Scottish background who travels to a foreign country. Looking into the future of her authorship, she would love to make the New York Times Bestseller List.

Whether writing, painting, or drawing, Joanna McKethan does a beautiful job in all that she does. To see more of her work and read more about her, check out her website:

“‘Playful Realism’ defines my work; ‘earthy’ describes it; story enlivens it.”

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