For Adelaide artist Joanna Poulson, exploring a diverse mix of interests has always come naturally. "Throughout primary school and high school I would do extra craft or weekend art classes, and I balanced that with playing a lot of sport – tennis and hockey were constants in my life," she says.
Based in Prospect, the suburb she grew up in, Joanna now applies that diversity to her working life. As well as being an award-winning part-time artist, Joanna operates Kontroller by JP, a consulting business dedicated to supporting a wide range of clients as they navigate major projects.
"I studied a Bachelor of Business (Management) when I left school and have been working since the age of 18," she explains. "A small sample of current projects includes substation upgrades, motorway construction, vector manufacturing facilities and renewable energy projects." Acknowledging the need to also pursue her creativity, in 2002 Joanna began an Associate Degree in Visual Art at the Adelaide Central School of Art (ACSA).
"I was taught by very talented and generous artists, and I'll be forever grateful for what they shared with me to improve my skills," she says. "I also have a number of inspiring artist friends as a result of going to ACSA. We all have our unique styles and subject matter and seeing how each of these artists continues to make work, and how their practice has evolved, has been wonderful."
After gaining her associate degree and leaving ACSA in 2008, Joanna started focusing on still life compositions in her preferred style – tonal realism. "I used inherited objects, which included pristine porcelains, vintage fabrics, an old wind vane and old kitchen tins that showed the wear and tear of time," Joanna explains. "I found myself interested in the inherent beauty of these objects, and by painting them my intention was to draw others to the beauty, which in their three-dimensional everyday state can be overlooked."
Along with still life work, Joanna paints portraits and landscapes, but flowers in their natural environment have emerged as her favourite subject matter. In the years since attending ACSA, she has participated in multiple exhibitions and received numerous accolades. Working with oils on canvas, linen and board, Joanna aims to bring colour and interest to her audience. from the sharpness of the macro sections of flowers to the soft, blurred backgrounds in each piece, her delicate work is both uplifting and captivating. It also reveals her extensive knowledge of technique and colour mixing.
Joanna doesn't have to venture too far to find inspiration for her paintings – she has lived in her Adelaide home for almost 25 years and has spent a great deal of time applying her artistic eye to an expansive garden, which is overflowing with beauty and colour and can be enjoyed from her kitchen, living area and purpose-built studio.
"As I've got older and enjoyed spending more time at home and in my garden, my interest and love of flowers has grown," she says. "I'm both inspired by and drawn to bright colours, which flowers provide in abundance. I also love the variety – I doubt I'll ever have to paint the same flower or flower colour twice."
When Joanna decided to have a studio and home office built on her property, she factored in all the elements that would make the space as user-friendly and motivating as possible.
"For a start, I needed a high roof pitch so I could work on large paintings and not hit the ceiling when I wound the easel up," she recalls. "I also wanted it to have views of the garden, so it felt light and open."
Completed in 2020, the studio faces north and has a glass front, stacking doors, polished concrete flooring, a bathroom and a skillion roof – the highest part of the interior is 3.6 metres. There are plenty of shelves and hanging systems, and an operable wall allows the home-office section of the space to be converted into a cosy bedroom for guests.
There's also a comfy sofa and a stereo with good speakers – non-negotiable inclusions that have helped to create the perfect working environment for a busy artist and project controller.
"I'm in the studio nearly every day, either painting or working on clients' projects," says Joanna. "My dogs are in there with me too, and they're great for breaking up my painting sessions with walks, cuddles and shared coffee breaks."