What About Women In The Arts?

"Bright Red Apples" by Joyce Pike OPAM 18"x24"

“Bright Red Apples” by Joyce Pike OPAM 18″x24″

I have been asked many times, did I find it hard being a woman in the field of visual art.  My answer was always no.  I worked hard to get where I am.  Your work speaks for itself.  If you are a good painter with talent, you can do it.

I should start by telling you how I did it.  First of all, I picked one of the most respected artists and teachers in the Los Angeles area, Sergei Bongart.  I was in my early twenties when I started studying with Sergei.  He had a thick Russian accent. His education was also in Russia.  He was considered one of the best artists and colorist.  His bold brushwork was highly thought of.

In order to pay for my lessons, I had to find a way to make money.  I had been trained in high school to do scenery for stage plays so I did murals for the great sum of $35 a wall.  I could do them fast using a dry brush technique.  At this time, you could buy groceries for a week with $35.  I worked quickly using acrylic and water-based paint.  I had two small boys not yet in school.  My mom helped to watch them on days I had murals.  I also worked at night, whenever possible, so my husband could babysit.

One of the greatest things that happened to me was meeting Hal Reed.  Not only was he a great painter, but he was a knowledgeable teacher.  Hal saw my talent.  He worked with me giving me a good education.  I taught for the Art League of Los Angeles, a highly respected school founded by Hal Reed.  I taught there for many years with full classes.  Hal was always searching for new horizons.  He saw the need for video teaching.  He started Art Video Productions.  I was one of the six teachers used.  Hal made over 100 tapes himself, and I made 52 tapes covering landscape, seascape, portrait, figure and floral.

"Montaña De Oro Surf" by Joyce Pike OPAM 24"x30"

“Montaña De Oro Surf” by Joyce Pike OPAM 24″x30″

The tapes were done the same year I decided to write a book.  I contacted North Light Publications.  They gave a contract to do my first book Painting Floral Still Life.  It was a great success and went into several printings.  Book 2 was Oil Painting, a Direct Approach.  The third book was Painting Flowers with Joyce Pike.  All three were good sellers.  My royalties were good but the publicity was even better.

I also had several articles done by art magazines, Art of the West, International Artist, Southwest Art and The Artist’s Magazine.  I worked with print companies such as Portal, Leaning Tree, Bentley House and Haddad and also a company in Great Britain.

My teaching took up most of my time.  I worked for several schools.  The two most important schools were Scottsdale Artists’ School and the Art League of Los Angeles.  My teaching gave me little time to paint for galleries so I started doing traveling workshops.  These took me all over the world.  The good part about traveling workshops is they are done by the travel agencies.  All I had to do was the teaching and enjoy the trip. When I started to produce paintings for galleries, I did well with thirteen galleries at one time.

This is only a part of what I did to achieve my art career.  Most men get their education and go to commercial art to get started.  Many then go to fulltime painting, leaving the commercial art world behind.  Some women do the same.  I couldn’t get my education first.  I just didn’t have the money.  I did it anyway; the hard way.

There are many great women artists out there who are alive today and many who did well that have passed on.  The answer is talent.  If you are good, that may be all it takes.  We all know there have been many who were just lucky, not as talented but did it anyway.

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  • Carolyn Ann Crocker

    Thank you, Joyce Pike! You’re an inspiration and testament to talent backed up by an enviable work ethic. I’m fortunate enough to have one of your floral paintings hanging in my home. I’d admired it for so long that my late mother, Marilyn Crocker, finally ‘loaned’ it to me to enjoy! An artist herself, she was a student of yours as well as Hal Reed and Sergei Bongart. Their names bring back wonderful memories for me as I too learned the fundamentals from Reed at the L.A. Art League – and what a great start it was!

    Really neat to hear your story – Carolyn

  • Barbara Fracchia

    I totally agree with you Joyce. I have admired your work for many years. I am a late comer to painting, but work very hard and paint constantly. I am in galleries but unfortunately not in my area.
    As for many great women artists out there, especially over a certain age, you are very correct and we are all struggling to get that recognition.

  • Mary Neely

    The most encouraging and kind teacher ! Your enthusiasm was addictive in your class room. I still use your book as a textbook in my class room. Thank you so much for being the generous artist and person you are ,always your student, Mary Neely

  • Delores Pederson

    Thank u Joyce Pike What inspiring words. You certainly made adifference. In this students life. Much love and respect was always a part of your skillful teaching.

    Thank you. Doloris Pederson

  • Diana Moses Botkin

    Developing skills, earning an income, and taking care of family are not easy to do, but you have managed to do them well. Thank you for sharing how you managed to live a life well-lived. You rock.

  • Georgesse

    Thank you Joyce! Your article is very timely. Recently I had a local show. This show prompted several inquiries into private lessons. I’d like to talk to you about fees and instruction. Will you contact me via email to discuss. I can be reached at georgesse_gomez@sbcglobal.net. Thanks, Georgesse