Joel Fletcher Painting Chronicle

Joel Fletcher at his easel in 2020.

Joel Fletcher developed his passion for the art of painting while a teenager in the 1970s living in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. He painted prolifically and hoped for a career in the fine arts or possibly book illustration; however, he had other artistic obsessions, specifically stop-motion animation. For a while he pursued both art forms - experimenting, learning, and improving. Eventually, he secured a filmmaking grant from the University of Wisconsin’s Public Broadcasting Station WHA-TV and he spent two years of spare time creating a 16mm film combining stop-motion and live-action. After that film had been televised, Joel’s career path between animation and painting became clear.

Deciding that animation was the ultimate art form, Joel moved to Los Angeles in 1985 to pursue his dreams. So began a successful 35-year career as an animator and visual effects artist, although this decision sidelined his painting aspirations. Joel's professional skills grew from on-the-job training and the opportunities such experience presented for working with many great artists and directors of feature films, television, and commercial projects. Career highlights included Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney's Dinosaur, and Peter Jackson's King Kong. Besides animating, Joel occasionally took on other artistic gigs such as sculpting, model making, and photography. Even so, he never once offered his painting skills to potential clients. Painting remained his specific fine art, the one that he had intentionally kept pure and uncorrupted from commercial use.

Joel found love in Los Angeles, marrying his wife, Cheryl, in 1993 and subsequently having their daughter, Caroline. Being a family man was a wonderful part of the human experience but working long hours in the entertainment business and being a husband and father left little time for personal artist endeavors. Consequently, not many Fletcher paintings have been produced to date. In other words, they are very rare! In 2010, feeling a loss from his inactivity in the painting arena, Joel vowed to take up the brushes again in whatever spare time he had. As of 2021 he phased out of the animation business, giving priority to his many visions for imaginative painting.