Joanna Barnum uses watercolor to express universal emotional states and the unique spirits of her portrait subjects, balancing experimental, abstract use of the media with sensitive realism and symbolism.

She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2006, and has since made her living as an artist across the realms of fine art, illustration, and teaching. She is a Signature Member of the National Watercolor Society and serves on the boards of the Baltimore Watercolor Society and the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters' Association. Joanna's work has been recognized by American Illustration, Illustration West, the “Splash: The Best in Watercolor” series from North Light Books, and at juried watercolor society exhibitions and plein air painting competitions around the country. She has worked with clients including AARP, Cricket, Faerie Magazine, Eating Well, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Joanna currently lives in Harford County, Maryland with her husband and their greyhound (and studio manager) Zephyr. She teaches watercolor at Chesapeake Fine Art Studio in Stevensville, MD.


Maryland Institute College of Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, 2002-2006. Major: Illustration, Minor: Art history

Selected Awards & Honors

Inclusion in Splash 19: Illusion of Light, The Best of Watercolor, 2018 & Splash 17: Inspiring Subjects, The Best of Watercolor, 2016- North Light Books

Inclusion in Infected by Art 6, 2018- juried compilation art book of imaginative realism

Jack Reid Memorial Scholarship, Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators MD/DE/WV Region, 2017

"Ron Schloyer Oustanding Watercolor Award," Pennsylvania Watercolor Society 28th Juried Exhibition, 2017

"PWCS Board of Directors’ Award," Philadelphia Water Color Society 117th International Exhibition of Works on Paper, 2017

Artist in Residence, Catoctin Mountain National Park, Thurmont, MD, May 2016

"Group C Award" 2016, "Golden Art Supplies Award" 2013, Baltimore Watercolor Society Mid-Atlantic Regional Watercolor Exhibition

"1st Place Watercolor," “Pictures at an Exhibition," Harford Artists Association, Bel Air, MD 2015

"Juror’s Choice Award," “Strokes of Genius,” Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD, 2013

Inclusion in Illustration West 51, 2013

“Chosen” illustration for American Illustration 31, 2012

“Chosen” illustration for American Illustration 29, 2010

Inclusion in The Big Book of Contemporary Illustration, Anova Books, 2009

Selected Plein Air Events & Awards

Second Place, Harford Plein Air, Bel Air, MD 2017

First Place Quick Draw, Floyd Plein Air, Floyd, VA, 2017

Annapolis Gallery Association Award, Paint Annapolis, Annapolis, MD, 2017
Paint Annapolis, 2014

Second Place, “Cityscape,” Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association, Peale Center, Baltimore, MD, 2016

Second Place, Harford Plein Air, Bel Air, MD, 2016

Viewer’s Choice, Piedmont Plein Air Paintout, High Point, NC, 2015

2nd Place Quick Draw & Juror's Choice Award, Paint It! Ellicott City, Ellicott City, MD 2015
Juror’s Choice Award, Paint It! Ellicott City, 2013

Easels in Frederick, Frederick, MD, 2014

Mountain Maryland Plein Air, Cumberland, MD, 2014

Solo & Small Group Exhibitions

"Simultaneous Realities," Solo show, Columbia Art Center, Columbia, MD, 2018

James Webb Space Telescope Artist Project, Curated group show, NASA Goddard Visitor Center, Greenbelt, MD, 2017/ Art.Science.Gallery, Austin, TX, 2017/ Texas Museum of Science and Technology, Austin, TX, 2017-2018

“The Artist & Their Art,” Four artist show, Crystal Moll Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 2017

"Lost Edges," Solo show, Hamilton Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 2017

“Winter Meditations,” Solo show, TruAx Custom Frames, Baltimore, MD, 2016

“Plein Air Painters Under 40,” Curated group show, Still Life Gallery, Ellicott City, MD, 2015

Solo show, Baltimore County Public Library, Parkville-Carney branch, Parkville, MD, 2015

“Maryland My Maryland: A Hometown Celebration,” Solo show, TruAx Custom Frames, Baltimore, MD, 2012

“Delicate Visions,” Three artist show, Irvine Nature Center, Owings Mills, MD, 2011

Solo show, Irvine Nature Center, Owings Mills, MD, 2008


Selected Illustration Clients

AARP, gmmb, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Faerie Magazine, UMBC Magazine, Austin Food & Wine Festival, Eating Well magazine, Cricket magazine, Mass Audubon/Sanctuary magazine, North American Review literary journal, BUST magazine, SCG Health, Avalonia Books, Berengad Games

Professional Organizations

National Watercolor Society, signature member, 2017

Baltimore Watercolor Society, signature member, board member, newsletter editor, 2013-Present

Maryland Society of Portrait Painters, accredited member, 2013-Present

Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association, member, 2013-2017, artist member and board member 2017-Present

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, PAL member, 2013-Present

Selected Group Exhibitions

Ongoing exhibition/non-exclusive representation, Artists' Emporium Gallery, Havre de Grace, MD, 2017-2018

Ongoing exhibition/non-exclusive representation, Still Life Gallery, Ellicott City, MD, 2014-2016

"H2OMG: Watercolor Gone Wild," National Watercolor Society, Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton, CA, 2018

National Watercolor Society International Open Exhibition, 2017

Art on Paper, Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD, 2017

"Face to Face: The Evolving Story of Sandy Spring," Maryland Society of Portrait Painters, Sandy Spring Museum, Sandy Spring, MD, 2017

“Gutsy: Taking the Fear Factor out of Feminism,” The Feminist Art Project Baltimore, Gallery CA, Baltimore, MD, 2014

“People in Paintings,” Crystal Moll Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 2013

“Chesapeake Watershed,” Hamilton Gallery & Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, MD, 2013

“The Four Elements,” Girls Drawing Girls, Flower Pepper Gallery, Pasadena, CA, 2012

“Deadly Sins,” Artistique Theater, Pixel Festival, Salt Lake City, UT, 2012

Artomatic@Frederick, Frederick, MD, 2012

“Live Wire,” Positron Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 2009

Illustration Exhibition, Towson Arts Collective, Towson, MD, 2009

“Ghosts of a Chance,” Luce Foundation Center for American Art (Smithsonian), Washington D.C., 2008