Joy Kruczay AKA Joy


It's that time again, and it is our great joy (get it, joy?) to present Joy Kruczay as this month’s artist-member Spotlight! You all know her simply as “Joy” on the forums. She often shows her work in the Art From Life, Wildlife, and the Water Media forums. Even though she does not see herself as a “serious” artist, she is notably skilled. But what does a “serious” artist mean anyway? A good question to discuss perhaps.

I’d like to note that we have artists of all ilk here. Personally, I can relate to anyone and everyone who creates art, no matter their subject matter. All of it helps me and inspires me. An artist is an artist whether they do it professionally or for the sheer pleasure, and even if they are still learning, as we are all always learning and evolving in our craft.

I hope you find Joy’s responses as fascinating as I do. It’s so great getting to know some of you better. Thank you, Joy, for participating in May’s spotlight interview. We truly appreciate it and honored to have her here! ♥️

1. From what part of the earth do you hail, and did you grow up in the same area?

I was born and raised in Marlton, which is in central NJ. While attending undergrad at Rutgers and podiatry school in Philly, I commuted from my childhood home. When I married at 24, I moved to Philly, as that is where we were attending school. After our residencies in the area, we moved to Johnstown, PA in 1986 to start our practice. Johnstown is in the beautiful Laurel Mountains of Western PA, about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh. It has four distinct seasons, a low cost of living, and no traffic jams!

2. How long have you been practicing or creating art?

Tough one to answer, as there were (and still are) so many gaps. Drawing and painting were always of interest. This intensified when I took an art history course during my freshman year of high school. Languages (I’ve studied French and German) and literature were also intriguing, but the uncertain nature of deriving my living from the arts set me on a more traditional path. I would have loved to have taken more art classes in high school. But I needed the math/science classes for a pre-med major, as I was on an accelerated program (completing high school in three years), and my schedule could not fit electives.

It is hard to remember the times exactly, but in the late nineties, I bought some basic watercolor and drawing books, and some cheap supplies. I watched some artists on public television, as there was no YouTube. My time would have been better spent painting instead of so much reading about painting! In 2001, our local arts center had a week-long workshop with watercolorist Tony Couch, and I took that. Then I took a few more with the late Diane Maxey, but still did not paint a lot—perhaps only a handful per year. Belaboring and overworking were (and still are) issues. Plus, being self-employed didn’t leave much free time for hobbies.

In 2006, we got a computer, and I was able to connect with artists on various forums. Around 2012, a few years before we retired, I took some workshops with Bill Perry. At that point, I may not have painted for years. I did do a bit more, but I spent so much time on each drawing and subsequent painting that I produced very little. After retirement in 2014, I started to paint more, especially in the last few years.


Jake (our late cat), watercolor, 9 x 7 inches.

3. For the majority of your time, do you primarily make art? If not, what do you do (for a living or what do you focus most of your time on)?

Unlike so many of the prolific and talented artists on Creative Spark, I am not participating as regularly in art. This is partly due to other activities that take priority or procrastination. Despite living in our home for over 30 years, we did not do much in the way of updating, landscaping, etc., and have been doing that for the last several years. Anyone with a home knows there is always something that needs to be done. Also, I stair walk, run and lift weights. Our basement has a full gym and an aerobics room. Since we enjoy individual sports, we took up recurve archery and .22 target shooting. As per our usual “analysis paralysis,” much time is spent reading about and watching videos related to any sport or home improvement.

Despite my fascination with the talent on display here, I struggle to have confidence in my artistic abilities. My tendency is to make too big of a “project” of what I start instead of enjoying the process. As is common, I am my own worst critic. Often it becomes a source of frustration instead of escape. Often I make excuses and look for other activities so as not to be disappointed in my efforts. Despite a fair amount of self-teaching and reading, I find it challenging to “get started” and strive for an original, creative interpretation of a subject instead of copying the photo.

4. What provoked you to start creating art? Is there something in your background that might speak to this?

The arts were always a source of fascination to me. I was a bookish, loner-type child and liked teaching myself things I could accomplish on my own.


Cheetah, watercolor, 14 x 10 inches.

5. Did you ever want to get an education in art? Why or why not?

Since I knew I wouldn’t pursue it as a profession, I was content with the multitude of books accumulated. Design and color principles are similar for any medium. A college education would have one learning all different media, and I just wanted to pursue watercolor. There is so much to learn it will take me a lifetime. Knowledge is finite, but ignorance is boundless. Thinking I would paint more when I first started, I purchased a lot of materials that would be sufficient for years. I do think the handful of workshops I took was helpful for individualized feedback and instruction. The blessing and the curse of the internet is the infinite sources of instruction on any subject.


Panther, watercolor, 8 x 9.5 inches.

6. Do you have supportive people in your life in regard to the work you make? If so, who is your biggest support?

My husband, Jerry, is always very encouraging and helpful. He is constantly reminding me I am supposed to be enjoying the process. Also, he has an excellent eye for detail and often points out corrections to drawings and can draw well.

7. Do you think schooling is necessary for creating art, skill, or technique (in general)?

Since I did not attend art school, I can only surmise that it would make one more knowledgeable and well-rounded. It certainly would force one to focus on deadlines and be productive. But there are (too) many videos and forums available now that offer such expert levels on instruction in any media that one can be self-taught. I have noticed that is the case with many of the fine artists. Of course, they have a lot of drive, talent, and self-discipline.


Eggs, watercolor, 14 x 6 inches.

8. What kinds of media and subject matter do you like using and why?

Watercolors have so much appeal to me. The bright color, being able to dilute it with water to achieve lighter values, quick drying time, and easy clean-up are among its many virtues. Originally, I had the notion that the spontaneity of the medium would loosen me up and achieve a more impressionistic look than pencil drawings. But I am still overthinking, over planning, overworking, and generally overdoing my paintings. Recently, I am attempting more sketching to combat this.

Animals are notoriously difficult, and I was hesitant to do them when I first started painting. But now my love for the subject has overtaken (most of) my fears! For me, it seems “easier” in the composition department, as most animal photos do not require the decision-making of a landscape or a still life. Certainly, one of my art goals is to try more of a variety of subject matter. The challenges on art forums are very helpful; if I have a “deadline,” I will produce a finished work. Seeing what the participants do with the challenge photo selection is very instructive, as I have great difficulty with subject interpretation.

9. Do you surround your environment with art or art objects? If so, can you describe some of the things in the room now?

Our home has a simple, clean, classic, contemporary look. Neither of us like clutter, so we have much less ornamentation than most other homes. Our smallest bedroom (the “studio”) has my drafting table, art supplies, and art books. It also has a desktop computer, so we both tend to spend a lot of time here. I do have a few of my paintings on the walls here, and the ones shown in this thread are in our living room and dining room. Only a handful of my paintings are framed—the rest are piled in the studio closet. So few seem “good enough” to display. There are also a few paintings and other art objects throughout the house.


Portrait, watercolor, 21 x 13.5 inches.

10. What is something you have not yet tried but have always wanted to?

Ride in a hot air balloon comes to mind. Scuba dive, as I have enjoyed snorkeling. Even though they are passive activities, I have hundreds of British mystery novels to read and British/foreign TV series on my list. My passion for different languages and cultures morphed into us watching many foreign series that most others are unaware of. Traveling and experiencing other cultures and architecture never gets mundane. Although I do feel that more is gained from stepping outside one’s comfort zone and trying activities that you don’t think you will like. I did not think I would like shooting, as I (despite my love of heavy metal and grunge!) abhor loud noises. The concentration and skill involved hooked me, and we are avid shooters now. As with any activity, there is so much more to it than one would assume.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

We are all so blessed to have supportive, talented artists here. The skill and creative interpretation applied to original works and challenge photos are amazing. The quantity and quality of work is astounding. I am a very small cog in a big wheel!

Ayin, thanks to you and Hannah for starting this site and tending to it so diligently and lovingly.
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Wonderful interview! It's nice to learn more about you, Joy, and a real pleasure to see more of your beautiful work! You are so talented and I always admire the work that you post. The portrait of Jake takes my breath away; truly one of the best cat paintings I've ever seen!
Joy, thank you for sharing more of your work and life experiences with us. Such a great interview! Like most self-taught artists, you're much better than you think you are and deserve credit for your desire to learn.

"Analysis paralysis" - that's me, too! 😉

I agree with Donna about your portrait of Jake - that's a real stunner. ❤️
Enjoyable read through and I too am spell bound by the portrait. It is evident that you like painting. Enjoy.
All the best to you and yours.
What an excellent interview, Joy. It was very interesting to hear about your life. I have noticed that you don’t give yourself enough credit for your art-work. What you produce is very good to see and I always look forward to it.

Joy, how many wonderful works, many masterpieces to frame and to be proud of. Very nice interview, a little also encouraging, because for a couple of years I bought books, read books and then on the computer but I didn't draw, at first I bought supplies that I didn't use, that they weren't needed. Your works are excellent, encouraging because even if I made mistakes like reading and not practising, I hope to do something beautiful even half of that.
It is a real JOY to get to know you better Joy, and I adore all of your cats in particular. ❤️ When I have more time to sit and read this evening I will go over your interview again and really get to know you. :giggle:
I am beyond thrilled to be here; my gratitude for this site and its members is boundless. Other than my supportive husband and those I have met in workshops, no one I with whom I interact is interested in art. Any mention of painting seems to encourage a subject change, as if I am planning on backing them into a corner and discussing the Renaissance! Getting all of these comments is very rewarding and encouraging. It's a good thing you cannot see the 99% of paintings I did not submit.

Ayin - Your time and efforts in the interview were so, so appreciated. The members will never know how much you and Hannah do here.

Donna - Your comment about Jake astounded me. It was actually on a piece of sample hot press paper, which I never had tried. So I just decided to play with it. Maybe because I was not as concerned about it I was able to loosen up a wee bit.

Terri - Thank you so much. I really want to learn more, and feel all of the artists with whom I have interacted were my teachers.

Wayne - The time you took to read and comment is appreciated. As far as liking painting, I can't always say that I do! "Outcome independence" is something for me to remember.

Penny - You know how much I enjoy your work, especially the dog portraits. The support you have given me over the years really means a lot.

Joe - What nice things to say! It is so easy to get caught up in reading about it and watching videos, instead of just putting in the work.

Margaret - Thank you! I do seem to gravitate to cats, although I want to expand my subject matter. After all, that is how we learn.
Great interview, a lot of what you say resonates with me.
I should take this one to heart "My time would have been better spent painting instead of so much reading about painting!".
And lovely art too!
Joy, it is a "joy" to learn about you. I agree on the Jake painting. Gorgeous. Your other work is so good. It is a pleasure to see your work here and in your posts. Thanks for telling us about yourself and your art.
E.J.H. - Thank you so much for commenting. The same advice applies to videos, as it is so much easier to be a passive than active participant in anything.

Jo - Your art is always inspirational; it amazes me how much quality you can produce. I appreciate your comments.
Joy, what a delightful interview. It was nice to get to know you better. I love your artwork. I sympathize with some of your challenges. We all have them.

Thanks for sharing.
Anne, thank you! So much would be improved if I would devote more time, and not care so much about the result.
Great interview.
I agree with some of the others and think Jake is the best of the bunch.