Finding The Way

Statements about the painting process of Joel Fletcher.

Misty Mountains

Painting of mountains rising out of the clouds.

This 24” square piece is all that remains of a huge 4’ x 8’ background painting, originally created for my 1982 animated short film, Encounter. It was the largest painting I had ever made, but unfortunately an 8’ wide painting was just too impractical to keep! After finishing the movie, I cut it down drastically and kept only the best portion.

This piece was an imaginative landscape from my mind’s eye and not based on any real location. It was painted with acrylics directly on gesso-primed masonite. My repeating-pattern style, from that period, is evident in the trees and cloudy mist. Use of an airbrush for the clear blue sky was the perfect method for creating a flawless gradient. I then utilized a wet-in-wet technique, much like watercolor, for the stylized mist. Finally, I followed up with the airbrush to soften and accentuate the cloudiness. Overall, Misty Mountains worked out just fine as a framed artwork, and it became a wonderful artifact of the animated film for which it was initially intended.

© 2022 Joel Fletcher

Gypsy Dancer

Exotic Gypsy woman with tamborine.

Gypsy Dancer, 2010, 11 x 14 inches.

For a long period, I was focused on my animation career and family life leaving little time or energy for painting. Except for a few quick studies, I had not made any serious personal paintings for about 18 years! Then, in 2010, I decided to end my dormant period and get back to the easel! The plan was to begin in a small and simple manner in order to bring my skills up to speed; therefore, I started with this piece which I entitled Gypsy Dancer.

Over the Mountains of Ifdawn

illustration of A Voyage to Arcturus

They climbed up and up. He opened his eyes, and ventured to look around him. By this time they were already level with the top of the outer rampart of precipices. There now came in sight a wild archipelago of islands, with jagged outlines, emerging from a sea of air. The islands were mountain summits; or, more accurately speaking, the country was a high tableland, fissured everywhere by narrow and apparently bottomless cracks. These cracks were in some cases like canals, in others like lakes, in others merely holes in the ground, closed in all round. The perpendicular sides of the islands—that is, the upper, visible parts of the innumerable cliff faces—were of bare rock, gaudily coloured; but the level surfaces were a tangle of wild plant life. -David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus, 1920

This moment described in David Lindsay's visionary novel A Voyage to Arcturus was the inspiration for one of my earliest paintings, entitled Idawn, which I completed in 1975 at the age of 19. It depicts characters Oceaxe and Maskull riding a flying snake-like creature called a shrowk over the land of Ifdawn. Clearly, there are a lot of bizarre names in Lindsay's book!

Many of my paintings from the ‘70s were illustrations, because I was preparing myself for a possible career as a book cover artist (before ultimately becoming an animator). I wanted to go all-out with this piece and spent a year of my spare time working on a large 36" x 50" canvas. The painting had its flaws but it prevailed with style, passion, and youthful bravado. Although executed a long time ago, I still remember the method and thoughts I applied in its creation.


A man made of fire and woman made of water are united in a yin yang design.

Syzygy, 2017, 18 x 24 inches.

Duality is a prevalent theme in my artwork as it is a fascinating mystery of the world in which we live. This symbolic painting was created in 2017 with the core idea being "the union of opposites.” The imagery portrayed is a composite of metaphysical thought from both Eastern Taoism and Western alchemy. The seemingly opposite, yet complementary, masculine and feminine forces are presented as being interconnected and thereby attracted to each other.

The Black Flame

Woman seduced by the evil black flame.

The Black Flame, 2012, 16 x 20 inches.

My initial inspiration for this painting came from a song, the hauntingly beautiful 1974 piece entitled "Black Flame" by Renaissance. The lyrics, perfectly sung with conviction by Annie Haslam, concerned the inescapable evil within the soul. Visualizing that idea, I imagined a woman entranced by the black flame and holding it near and dear to her heart. I decided to make the design reminiscent of a Byzantine Icon painting, but as a dark counterpart to the sacred. With that image in my mind, I proceeded to bring it into reality.

One With Nature

painting of meditators in a psychedelic landscape

I painted this imaginative vision as a young man back in 1978. The title One With Nature aptly describes the concept of the piece; however, much more can be said about it. The intent was to portray the natural world through the mind's eye with vivid clarity, reflecting the experience of a meditative, altered state of consciousness. Inspiration for the piece came from some of my interests in fields such as metaphysics, natural science, ecology, and biology. Fortunately, by that time my personal artistic style had developed enough that I could bring such an idea into a painted reality.

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