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( biography )

JoEtta has a Bachelor's in art and a Master’s in Theology. She exhibits primarily in the Shenandoah Valley. JoEtta, along with her good friend & husband of 45 years, Michael, do life together in community with the (Anglican) Church of the Incarnation and their good neighbors in Harrisonburg, VA.   

about the artist

and it was good by joetta deaton

When I was a little girl, my father regularly cajoled his five children out of warm beds to tumble outside for a bird hike. He urged us to “Slip through the woods like Lenape Indians stalking prey,” but we looked more like the walking dead. We resented trading our pillows for poison ivy. Until we saw our first bird. Startled a fawn. Heard the alarming metal-scrape of a pheasant. Then we entered a new world.


I learned to love that world. I played in it, climbed trees, dammed streams, caught crayfish, built tree-root houses, and talked to the God who made it. All along curious, “What is all the beauty for?” I imagined that it was created for me, and I embraced it. I even painted with it. I tried to get my friends excited that pokeberry made a startling purple and bloodroot a gory red, but with little success. Mom never reprimanded my stained pants, scraped knees, and toxic paints. Happily, she found luscious watercolors and brushes for me. Daddy pulled out his oil paints and had the gall to entrust them to five kids. The tubes were sticky as pine gum, so I felt right at home. And it was good.


As I grew up, I decided that art and God’s creation were mostly for fun. More cerebral, less earthy pursuits were for adults. Though my father encouraged me to consider art in college, I was convinced that working with theological concepts was more honorable than learning to paint. So I dabbled in clay; and flipped through art history; but I poured myself into questions about God. In this way I was cut in half, but I thought I was good.


It took many years, patient family and friends, theological graduate studies, crazy-good art classes, and robust Church family, to bring my broken halves together by a relentless loving God. To break through my presumption and pride. To reconnect my mind and heart to my hands and canvas. God is still in that business with me. Tenderly and powerfully loving ALL of Creation and ALL of us. Our hearts, our souls, our minds AND our bodies. Breaking down, transforming, and re-creating a stunning unity under and in Christ, between Creation and all GOOD things, including art, play, work, worship and rest.

I’ve returned to painting. I find that painting trees, landscapes, the human body, and the people I love, is physically hard and intellectually challenging. I feel like I am that little girl again, agog with awe, and playing hard in the woods. I work within a community of artists. Some are Christ-aware and some are not; each has vital truths to share. Together with them, I get to paint! And it IS GOOD.--JHD


blue and orange mason

THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY by (painter) Ed Knippers


The human body is at the center of my artistic imagination because the body is an essential element in the Christian doctrines of Creation, Incarnation, and Resurrection.

Disembodiment is not an option for the Christian. Christ places His Body and His Blood at the heart of our faith in Him. Our faith comes to nothing if the Incarnation was not accomplished in actual time and space – if God did not send His Son to us in a real body with real blood.

[Heresy results when] we try to minimize the presence or preeminence of the body and the blood. Yet even believers have become comfortable with our age as it tries to disembody reality. Physicality is messy; it is demanding and always a challenge to control. In the name of progress, our communication is increasingly becoming a disembodied voice on the line or we listen to a virtual image on a screen. We move human interaction, even consciousness, from the real into a virtual realm. When we must deal with the physicality of the real world, it is increasingly uncomfortable.

The response to this discomfort for the physical world can be at least two fold. When it comes to our bodies, we can resort to worshiping the physical creation as seen in contemporary sexual idolatry, including pornography and other sexual exploitation. When it comes to nature we can also feel a need to worship as is seen in the resurgence of pagan creation-centered religions. A second response is a resort to a kind of Gnosticism, prudishly rejecting the physical creation’s importance and disdaining as evil what God Himself called “good.” Neither worship of the created order nor Gnosticism is a Christian response, especially when it comes to our bodies.

The body (both Christ’s and ours) is a mystery. Our physical being is not to be worshiped or disregarded. His is to be both worshiped and glorified. As orthodox Christians we insist on the bodily resurrection for both Christ (“…if Christ be not risen…your faith is also vain.” Corinthians 15:14) and, just as scandalously, for ourselves (“…he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus…” II Corinthians 4:14).

We Christians believe that God paid the ultimate price for our redemption. That would not be true if He had given us only His mind (and thus been merely a great teacher), or only His healing (a great physician), or even only His love (a compassionate friend). Without His body broken for us, His sacrifice would be incomplete and we would be lost. For without the broken body there can be no redemptive resurrection.

figure paintings by JoEtta Deaton

from ron boehmer 

Try this: Do at least twenty paintings of one subject: one subject or genre of subject, never approaching the process of painting the same way twice, and when you reach the wall and can’t think of any new way to approach it-you then have twenty more paintings to do. The idea is to force oneself to pay attention only to the process, and to see it as a means to investigate and discover new ways to think about how to make a painting.


Only one out of every twenty or so students of mine have taken up the challenge. Those that have done so all made wonderful progression in their work usually in a very short time--two to three months. The assignment takes away a lot of the pressure of “what to paint” and encourages "no rules" experimentation. These students have come away from the project with more confidence; more understanding of composition and imaging; and more comfort in handling the paint.


For JoEtta, the work she has done on the project has been a major breakthrough in all the areas listed above, plus in her ability to tackle and complete a painting in a “response-able” mode. That be able to respond to the needs of the painting as it evolves rather than trying to force the painting into a preconceived direction, thus being able to work through each painting at a different pace, quick or meticulous, as the painting and intention behind the process demands. And in the process, her sense of painterly application of paint, light and color have improved greatly.  


This is what being a “PAINTER” is all about.


--Ron Boehmer/ July 2014  

Beverly Street Studio School founder and painting instructor

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