Bio

Joyanna Rose Gittings was born in 1975 in Zanesville, Ohio and raised in the small, wonderful farm town of Bloomville.  The eldest in a large family, her parents encouraged her from a young age to investigate making and growing things, and instilled in her a strong work ethic, while allowing plenty of opportunity for her vivid imagination to roam.  This was enhanced as a young adult by studying and living abroad in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands of Spain.  During her stay she found herself enamored of the warmth and stoic passion of the Spanish language and culture. 

Her interest in visual arts was kindled in school by Art Teacher Betsy Schumann and she went on to study Scenic Arts and Technical Theatre at the College- Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.  There she studied under Tom Umfrid, Paul Shortt, Steve Waxler and Michael Blankenship, gaining strong skills in varied media including wood- and metal- working, lighting, and millinery.

Marriage and Motherhood followed bringing with it times of chaotic joy and quiet nurturing.  She worked to refine her drawing skills, and had time to observe subtleties of emotions and recognize the vital importance of tenderness.  She inherited her grandfather’s watercolor supplies after his passing and began working with them, appreciating them for their ease of use. 

She moved with her family to Colorado in 2010, where she found herself once again immersed in Spanish, though now in the midst of the vibrant Mexican-American community.  She worked as an interpreter and teacher, gaining a growing, heartfelt affection for the ebullience and gentleness endemic in the culture of her colleagues, in spite of grim struggles they faced every day.  Continuing work in watercolor, her fondness for its practicality developed into dedication to exploring how the medium and subject matter could be used in non- traditional ways; how saturation could be achieved through transparent layering, mixing, and juxtaposition of color, how unexpected use of color could convey universality in figurative representation, and how ambiguity could be employed to foster broader emotional recognition. 

In 2018, she established Obra Arts Studio and Salón, with the mission of promoting visual arts and fostering their power as a vehicle for cross- cultural connection in her community.