Joan Potkay was born in Hartford, CT and raised around tobacco farms and the New England coast. Her family encouraged her artistic talent with visits to New York City and art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. Joan’s childhood visits to NYC evoked a love for the combined juxtaposition of the urban and the rural. Because of this love she chose to attended NYC’s Parsons School of Design, graduating in 1971. She continued her art studies at the Art Students League while developing her art career in New York for the next twelve years. She has traveled throughout Europe and Northern Africa. The stark beauty of Ireland precipitated her next logistical move to Nantucket Island, MA and Morocco later influenced her move to Santa Fe, NM.

While splitting her time between New York City and Nantucket Island, Joan began to established her art career with numerous painting shows. She also taught and helped administer at Nantucket School of Design and the Arts which is affiliated with the Massachusetts College of Art. She continues to teach at Nantucket School of Design and the Arts during the summer.

In 1986, Joan was chosen for a residency with Helen Frankenthaler at the Santa Fe Art Institute and did a follow up invitational tutorial with Helen again at the SFAI in 1991. This dialogue with Frankenthatler helped create Joan’s present approach to the energy in her artwork. Joan also did an influential residency with Jennifer Bartlett at SFAI in 1993. During this time Joan began looking for a year round community for her art and relocated to Santa Fe, NM in 1987.

The painting process that Joan Potkay has developed uses a downward motion to capture the fluidity of her paint onto canvas or paper allowing her to use her own range of movement to capture the energy of her gestures. Painting "down" allows for the saturation of the canvas. Looking and working down also changes her consciousness and perspective to become one physically with the actual work.

Using the floor as her easel, Joan pours thin layers of luminous paint onto canvas or paper incorporating calligraphy and mark making into visions of nature that she calls Land Forms. Her Land Forms might evoke rushing water or the meditation of a field caught between trees. Bridging the line between abstract and realism Joan evokes the rhythms of nature from the sublime to the tumultuous. She uses Japanese brushes for calligraphy, scrapers, poured paint and her hands.

Her initial introduction to monotypes was with Dan Welden at a workshop in Denver and later with Ron Pokrasso in Santa Fe. Through the SFAI she furthered her printmaking skills with Garner and Richard Tullis.

Monotypes are a large part of Joan’s oeuvre. In describing her printing process Joan states:

“I do multiple drops of transparent inks from 4 to 12 times per print. This allows the immediacy of my mark making to remain, while building up texture and veils of iridescent color. I weave the image into a series using the ghost and by continually re-inking. My images are evoked by nature, moving from forms of reality to abstraction. Motion, change, chaos and beauty are the properties I try to capture.”

Her continued intrigue of rural and urban life has precipitated Joan and her husband’s purchase of a loft in an old textile mill in one of Massachusetts’ active fishing ports, New Bedford. A huge north sky light dominates the space from when it was used for thread dying over hundred years ago. For Joan, she feels she now has the best of both worlds, maintaining Santa Fe as her main residence and New Bedford as her East Coast art retreat.