With the launch of her exhibition, aptly titled Gratiarum/Grateful, Joan Andal Romano has a lot to be grateful for. With her background and training in structural engineering, she draws from her field to create her pieces, laying rectangles, squares, and other geometric shapes over Japanese paper and canvas using acrylic paints, gesso and inks.
“In engineering, you try to achieve that perfection, but in art, I love the fact that I make a lot of mistakes,” Romano said. “The nuances and accidents that come out in the process, and that’s ok.”
When she began painting five years ago, she would journal her ideas in order to take them from her mind and visualize how she will create them. Now that she is has settled in her field, she will approach the blank canvas and allow the creative force to pour out of her onto the easel. She works in her home studio in Milton, which is decorated with antique wine bottles and strings of lights, which illuminate and inspire her paintings. Romano creates her own stories, molded by stories of her childhood like Madeline and The Secret Garden, which are evident in her city and garden pieces.
Drawn to and inspired by Japanese art and culture, Romano spends her afternoons in The Japanese Paper Place, furthering her knowledge of the craft. She likes to experiment using different types of paper, in particular Japanese paper, like stone paper. She embeds them on the canvas, layering them to create texture. As well, she tear pieces out of her journal and uses her sketches to add to the paintings, to create further dimension.
“Being part of the mixed media movement, anything goes!” she laughs. “I use potato sacks to add texture as well, and antique stamps to imprint lettering across the paints. The ink fights the acrylic, and when the piece drys, because of the wet on wet technique, it looks totally different. They dance together and create something new.”
The Gratiarum/Grateful exhibition runs at the Urban Gallery, 400 Queen Street East, until January 9th.