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The Arts March 31, 2010  RSS feed

Joni Amaral

In The Studio
A s it is with many island artists, Joni Amaral’s home is also her studio, where she uses her small guest room to paint still lifes and landscapes that are often deeply textured by a palette knife.

Joni Amaral lives in the moment when working in her studio. PHOTOS BY ROB BENCHLEY Joni Amaral lives in the moment when working in her studio. PHOTOS BY ROB BENCHLEY Her first vivid recollection of an art experience lingers from her nursery school days when she finger painted with melted chocolate.

Amaral comes from a talented family. Her aunt used to create winter dough art projects with Amaral; one of her grandmothers is an oil painter and the other is a pianist.

“Every time I paint I have to have music on,” she noted of the genetic blend of creativity that has become part of her personal regimen.

Amaral took drawing classes in childhood and realized by high school that art had a wonderful stronghold on her. Originally planning to teach marine biology, Amaral minored in art when she majored in education at college. She found that she was especially attracted to working in oils.

Calla Lily Calla Lily After graduation she taught in Maine for two years and was a substitute teacher in Munich, Germany before moving to Japan for nine months to teach English to children and adults. She returned to the U.S. and taught for a while in Lexington, Mass. and then moved to the island four years ago to become a third grade teacher at Nantucket New School. All through her travels Amaral continued to paint and studied pottery, but though she is not specifically an art instructor she incorporates art into her class curriculum.

For example, this week her stuincrease dents are learning about the phases of the moon and will paint them and create their own moon books. Recently, she crafted a collage “communication” mailbox inspired by art club/book club monthly workshops NNS founder Linda Zola hosts for the school’s teachers. The purpose of the box, which students can make for themselves if they wish, is to have a place for her kids to leave anonymous messages about anything bothering them or changes they desire in their classroom.

Red Pear Red Pear After Amaral became part of the school’s staff, she commuted to Lesley University for graduate studies in integrated teaching through the arts which provides a way to enliven and students’ understanding of what they are learning and encourage self-expression.

“Students having choices of how they want to interpret a concept is very important, and they love it,” she said.

Amaral’s choices are important to her as well. Sometimes she works from photos, other times she sets up her still lifes of flowers and vegetables and occasionally she paints from her imagination. Her pieces are inspired by nature, personal experiences and music, along with the work of the great Impressionists and her colleagues.

“If you go to a beautiful place and the weather is just right you want to capture that moment,” she said of her many muses.

In the future, Amaral, who also enjoys photography, would like to write and illustrate a children’s book and produce another edition of her photos accompanied by poetry. She also wants to explore new mediums such as stained glass and mosaics.

“Any kind of art is very therapeutic for me. It gives me great joy and pleasure to be in the moment of creating and in the process of whatever it is you are working on — just being able to think about life and what is going on at the moment,” she said. “I also find great joy in being able to give art to people; to pass it on to someone to enjoy. I like to sing, too, but I couldn’t make a career out of it.” I

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