Fun and Funky
Joyce Laporte pitched a fit about going to vacation bible school. She didn’t want to learn about Jesus in the summer. At just 6 years old, she had better things to do with her time. A wise Sunday school teacher guided her to art projects, where she picked a paint-by-numbers horse.
She, art and Jesus have had a great relationship ever since.
But she hasn’t always painted full time. She was a banker for 13 years and then a business owner for 13 more. Art was her after-hours stress-reliever. Then her mother died and her sick father took his life, and Laporte left the corporate world behind with a mission to do all she could to become a successful artist. “People thought I’d lost my mind, and, in some ways, I had,” she says. “The first three months, all I could do is stare at the blank canvas and cry.”
She joined an art guild that opened up a whole new community in the art world; she got a few classes under her belt; and the brush strokes have been coming fast and furious ever since.
That was 20 years ago. Now she’s had a banner year with the recent addition of acrylics in her repertoire of self-proclaimed “funky, fun art.” Her NOLA-themed work is selling like gangbusters, in part, she says, because of the off-beat names. Her tufted-feathered pelicans are entitled “Bad Hair Days,” and her oyster paintings she calls “Louisiana Viagra.”
Look for LaPorte at Arts Market New Orleans in Palmer Park, in 308 Magazine Gallery or on Facebook at Creole Lady Art.
Personal mission statement: “I love to paint and I like to have a good time — always — or I don’t do it,” Laporte says. “At 67, you learn you better have a good time because you might not have much time left!”
Recent life-changing moment: “I was a photo realistic oil painter until someone asked me to do an abstract commission this past summer … I had to go to my buddy [Jesus] and say, ‘Lord, you know I don’t paint abstract … you’re going to have to take that brush and do it for me,’” Laporte says. “Well honey, let me tell you, I got that big old white canvas on the easel; made up my palette; slapped the color on; went to town with colors I’ve never used before … the client loved it. After that I was looser with my work. It totally changed my way of painting. Now I do mainly acrylics, loud garish colors that people love. And everything’s New Orleans.”
On being an artist in NOLA: “There’s so much history here, our architecture, the people, the music, our food,” she says. “To me, there’s just no place like NOLA. I’m in French Quarter Fest, and, when I’m there, that’s nothing but tourists. When they buy a piece of my work, I’m bragging so much. I don’t mean to, but it’s such a part of me and I’m so proud of my city. ‘You really love New Orleans,’ they always say. Always have, always will. I could work for the tourist commission … but I’m too busy painting.”
Favorite piece of art: “As an artist, I hope I don’t have one,” Laporte says. “Most artists say that because when you have painted your best, what’s left? But if I’m being honest, it’s my Creole Ladies [tomatoes] … I own them; they’re not for sale. I got two awards on this painting that I never dreamed I would get.”
Biggest art accomplishment: “I’m out at Palmer Park [Arts Market New Orleans] the last weekend of every month,” she says. “I sit back and listen to what people say about my work. Everybody says exactly how I feel about it: ‘It’s so happy.’ My work now makes people happy. To sell 10 paintings at Palmer Park in one day — that’s paramount for me.”