November’s Member of the Month – Joanne Costello

Member of the Month for November


I was born in Crockers Cove, Carbonear in 1962. I spent my early childhood roaming and playing among the rocks and cliffs behind my home. After attending workshops and classes at MUN Extension Arts in the mid-1980’s I attended Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1987 and obtained a Fine Arts Degree. I returned to Newfoundland in 1989. The major theme of my work is geology and geomorphology (the study of landforms). I am not concerned with painting a landscape, but interpreting what makes up the landscape. I describe my work as “close to the ground”; and find amazing colour, texture and composition on the rocky beaches and boulder strewn barrens and ridges of the Avalon Peninsula. My medium is acrylic on canvas or paper but I’m also interested in lithography and monoprinting. I currently live in St. John’s with my husband and two children and work full-time at the Map Room in the Queen Elizabeth II Library where I also coordinate exhibitions at the First Space gallery.

1.When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?

I first realized I wanted to become an artist in the Fall of 1984, I was driving through Otterbury in Conception Bay and I came upon a sign at the end of a driveway that was shaped like an artist palette.  The house belonged to deceased artist George Noseworthy.  I immediately stopped the car, got out and gazed in at the house that was situated in a little hollow, I was very emotional and it was at that moment that I said to myself I wanted to become an artist.

2. What mediums do you work in and why?

I work in acrylic mostly.  This came about while I was in art school.  Oil was a difficult medium to use in the school I was attending, the studio space wasn’t really large and the paints were too smelly so I switched to acrylics and found that I liked them.  I also like lithography and monoprinting because they are two totally different printmaking methods.  I like lithography when I want to get lost in my artmaking and monoprinting when I want to work from my memories (fleeting images).  Unfortunately I only have time for acrylics at this stage in my life.

3. How do you get ideas for your artwork?

My art is all about rocks.  My earliest memories are of playing on rocks, making little houses from rocks and collecting rocks on beaches.  There was a large ridge behind my childhood home and rocky hills and that is so much a part of me.  I use geology maps, air photos, and topographic maps for information. I work in a map library so the collection itself inspires me, also talking to professors and researchers to see what type of geological research they are doing and where, helps.  I will find interesting geological structures, out of the way beaches, landforms, etc. on maps and seek them out.  I am constantly in awe of the geological history of the province and the earth.

4. What other artists influence your artwork?

I was inspired by John Constable for his attention to weather conditions in his work, the later works of Jean Francois Millet, Ewan Patterson, Doris McCarthy, Gerry Squires, to name a few…

5. What are the ‘big’ themes in your artwork?

The big theme right now is the variety of colour and texture found at different beaches in Newfoundland and Labrador.

6. What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist working in Newfoundland and Labrador?

I am in the awkward position of not working as a full-time artist so my greatest challenge at this moment is time and distance, meaning having the time to work and being able to travel the distance around this province.

7. What is the best thing about working as an artist in this province?

The arts community, the musicians, the theatre, etc.

8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A full-time artist.

9. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

I can’t imagine it but I would probably be a Geologist!

10. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

Solitude for at least 3 months of the year.

Want to be our next Member of the Month? Submit your answers to the 10 Questions listed above, plus a jpeg photo and a short bio before the first Monday of each month to be entered in the random draw. All submissions should be emailed to