Joyce Polance, studio visit Chicago

After just a quick bus trip from our earlier visit to Vitruvian Fine Art Studio, we trundled up some great old wooden stairs and Joyce Polance opened her door and studio to us. Jump in my little backpack and come along for a studio visit! She's been in this shared studio space for 8 years and has a great spot right beside the windows. Her works this year are in a place of transition as she's trying out a looser approach. Her earlier works are quite large but she's enjoying working in smaller formats, about 30 x 30 inches as she explores new kinds of mark making and expression. She's also enjoying creating new smaller works in weeks rather than months, such a better way to allow new ideas to bloom and grow.

All of her works are about relationships, relationships between the subjects in the paintings or with others not present, sometimes others from the past who are no longer here but suggest themselves in a slightly ghostly white washed appearance in these new works. Having much experience is correct rendering, she's feeling both excited and a little nervous about her new loose work but it seems to work very well indeed.

The palette in these new works is slightly cooler than her earlier works. She shared a paint tip with me. When she mixes up more oil paint than she intends to use over the day, she sometimes submerges her paint tray/muffin pan in a large tub of water overnight. In the morning, she just shakes off the water and gets straight back to work with her juicy colors all pre-mixed and ready to go. Thanks Joyce, interesting tip and one I had not heard of before.

So far, all of her works have women as model and subject which sometimes leads one to assume that she is gay but no, that's not the case. She is happily married, and to a man. Men may show up in her works some day but it just hasn't happened yet. She arranges her modelling sessions, tells her models what she wants them to think about in their groupings and then works from her own photographs later.

On her big work table you can see her paint brushes suspended in a large bucket of walnut oil. She just wipes them off and they're ready to go without any cleaning with nasty solvents, healthy and thoughtful in a shared studio space.

When we pulled out some large earlier works like this one, Guard, I could see her early influence from Jenny Seville. Guard dates from 3 years ago, is about strength and the vulnerability of showing emotions versus keeping them safely hidden away inside.

In Compass (above) from 2012, she is showing isolation in the subjects even though they are not alone.

Joyce paints full time and is also exploring writing her memoirs. It's all part of the creative process and journey and one we need to give ourselves permission to explore.

Joyce gave us lots of good tourist information for our days ahead in Chicago and we enjoyed a great deep dish pizza later at her suggested Lou Malnati's. Thanks Joyce for your generous time and the travel tips!
Joyce Polance

Scroll to Top