Joan Voyles is an American artist known for her whimsical drawing and painting style. She has had artistic focus in a variety of media and subject matter over the years. However, she is best known for her collection of drawings developed into paintings featuring Anna Maria Island and nearby historic Cortez Village. Her expansive variety of subject matter includes funky restaurants, cottages, piers and Cortez fishing village scenes. Bright colors, tropical foliage, line drawing and that “Old Florida feeling ” create her special look. She was often told her style evokes happy feelings for viewers. Her collection of original paintings preserve memories and help define a “sense of place.” They document this Florida community from the 1990s to early 2000s. Some places have changed, but much of her “I love Anna Maria Collection” of nearly 100 images remain. People with a personal history of experiencing this area will especially enjoy perusing this gallery of her art and remembering.
In 1985, Joan moved to Florida and Anna Maria because she loved the ambiance of the island community. This was in contrast to Griffith, a small Indiana town of her childhood. Joan Watkins grew up in a home surrounded by paintings because her mother, Bertha Seifert was an artist and former art teacher.
Not surprisingly, Joan ended up in a parallel path as an art teacher. She attended Purdue University, Ball State University, John Herron Art School and graduated from Butler University. Her career began as an art teacher in the Indianapolis area and then in Palatine, Illinois. After completing her Masters in Art Education, she studied under artist Lou Taylor who introduced her to water color painting.
Upon the move to Florida, Joan Watkins Abrahamson had a second career in executive search in nursing and other health care fields. After marriage to Dr. Carl Voyles, she retired and returned to art. She completed a certificate program at the University of South Florida in Expressive Art. This led to an internship and volunteering in the Arts and Medicine program at Moffitt Cancer Research Hospital. Next she completed a Botanical Illustration Program at Ringling College of Art and Design. During these years she was drawing scenes in the coastal local communities shown here and during travels. Currently she enjoys challenging her drawing skills in open studio settings with undraped models.
Joan has been actively involved in arts advocacy and leadership in arts organizations in Manatee County and Anna Maria Island. She and her late husband were charter members of the Artists Guild of Anna Maria Island and exhibited in the organization’s gallery for over twenty-five years.
Most recently writing has been a focus for Joan. She is working on her memoir as she expands on Carl’s writing of his experiences treating civilians injured during the Vietnam war. There are new understandings to share now fifty years later.
Joan has one son, Erik Abrahamson, and a step-daughter-in law, Kitty Gonzalez and her family, that encourage Joan in any of her activities. Two long haired dachshund dogs, Duke and Carolina, make their demands of Joan’s time and attention.
Both Joan and her mother, as artists, created art that tell the history of a place in vastly different times and settings. In 1934 and 1935, Bertha Seifert, Joan’s mother, visited grandparents living in Mulberry, a small Indiana town, during the summer vacations. After graduation from the Art Institute of Chicago Art School and she worked as an art teacher in the industrial town of East Chicago, Indiana during the depression. In Mulberry, this “quaint” county town, inspired her artist’s skills. Her subject matter for the paintings consisted of scenes of downtown Mulberry and tree lined residential streets. Sketch books revealed preliminary plans and detailed descriptions made prior to her plein air oil and watercolor paintings. Several watercolors were scenes of a major business in 1934, the saw mill. A few years later, an explosion demolished the business that was never rebuilt. The paintings give a visual historical reminder.
Recently, Bertha’s three children sent many of these Mulberry paintings to the Clinton County Historical Museum in the nearby county seat, Frankfort, Indiana. Plans are in progress for a historical display that will contrast current photos taken at the sites with the paintings done eighty years ago.