An Interview with an artist

Today, we're mixing things up a bit! Instead of a photographer, today's interview is with my friend Joy, who is an amazing artist. I have known Joy for about 10 years now, and even though we have rarely had the privilege of living in the same city, we have always managed to stay connected through emails and the occasional "in person" visit. We connected over our shared love of art, and our desire to use our art for good in the world...and our quest to figure out how exactly to do that! Even though we work in different mediums, we love having deep conversations about the role of art in our lives, and how we can best use our art to make a difference in the world, and encouraging one another in whatever we are currently working on.

I hope you enjoy meeting Joy and learning more about her and her amazing work!

Joy Bostwick: Bio

Joy Bostwick is an artist who loves to express the beauty of people groups around the world, documenting the more traditional aspects of their lives before they become “modernized” and lose the uniqueness of their cultures. For the last decade she has been mostly painting the peoples of Northwest China, among whom she was privileged to live for many years. More recently she is also painting peoples from around the rest of China as well as Southeast Asia. She mostly works in oils and watercolors, using loose brushstrokes and vivid colors.

General Questions:

How long have you been painting, and how did you get into it?

I have been painting since I was about 3. My grandmother was an artist, and she would sit us down for lessons at her kitchen table when we visited.

What kind of art do you do? 

I have always done oil painting until two years ago when I decided to learn watercolor painting. It took awhile, but now I have fallen in love with watercolor painting!

What do you love about painting?

I love painting, because it means I can change the scene or the colors to be whatever I want. With watercolors, I love the way they bleed and mix in unpredictable ways; it allows a painting to be both fairly realistic and loose and impressionistic at the same time.

What inspires you? (Not just art related necessarily…could be anything!)

I am inspired by the injustice and ugliness of the world in which we sometimes find ourselves, to find or make beauty in those places. The creative act makes something that is beautiful, but it also says something profoundly true about the subject; I want to call people’s attention to see something in a way they perhaps didn’t before, or to think about an aspect of the subject they wouldn’t have thought of before.

What do you do when you are feeling uninspired to paint?

Sometimes it helps me to look at some of my own best work to remind myself that I do know how to paint, read positive comments from people about my work, or pursue another hobby for a while. Or sometimes I just paint anyway, and find I will get into the mood along the way.

How do you put emotion into your art? 

This is never something that happens on purpose; it is always a by-product of painting while feeling emotional about my subject. My strongest paintings are those I did where I was really passionate about the subject.

What makes a good piece of art, in your opinion?

A good painting should help the viewer see both truth and beauty in a way that moves them emotionally.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist? 

Just keep at it. Even if you have natural talent, a lot of work must go into improving your craft. And in order to keep growing as an artist (or photographer), you have to always be thinking of how you can improve. One way to do this is to analyse other people’s work you admire, and try to copy the techniques they used with your own subjects until you can make it your own.

Quarantine Related Questions:

What are you working on during this time of quarantine? A new project? Going through old work? Taking a break? Waiting for it to be over…?

I saw a funny meme recently that showed three pictures: the artist before quarantine, the artist during quarantine, and the artist after quarantine. In all three the artist was doing the exact same thing, sitting pensively with a brush in hand in front of a canvas. That is about right. But in addition to just painting more, I have been focusing on improving my techniques in a few specific areas. Beyond that, I spent at least a week completely revamping my website (one of those projects I would never get around to otherwise!)

Have you found this time to be energizing or depleting?

As an introvert, and as someone who works out of my home studio anyways, quarantine hasn’t actually been all that different for me than my usual day to day week. In general, it has been enjoyable and energizing to have more time to focus on my painting without feeling guilty that I’m not hanging out with friends or doing something else.

I have been leading a Quarantine Photo Challenge for the past few weeks and we have been using photography to explore and express some of our feelings and emotions related to this quarantine. What would you say to the following questions…

 What are you grieving during this time of quarantine? What losses have you experienced as a result of this virus?

We had a family vacation planned for early April that coincided with my birthday. That was a bummer to have to miss it, but at the same time, I find it impossible to really feel sorry for myself when so many people around the world have lost so much more, or are finding it hard to just survive each day.

What is bringing you joy during this time?

My family! I am loving all this extra time we are getting together. Having two teenagers that I dread launching into the world in a few years time means any extra time I get with them is a plus!

What gives you hope for the future (in terms of quarantine and the virus)?

Honestly, my hope for the future regarding the virus or anything else comes from the fact that I have a deep faith in a sovereign and good God who is in control.

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to being able to go to the rock climbing gym with my daughters regularly again, seeing my friends, and taking that family vacation!


You can find more of Joy's work here:

Instagram at: joybostwickart

Or her website at:

She may be contacted at:

Some Samples of Joy's work: