Jo Bradney was born in London, UK and grew up off the south coast of England in the idyllic much-thatched Isle of Wight, memories of which are still the subject of many of her smaller works. After a fun-filled three years studying ancient history and literature for a BA in Classical Studies from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England’s far north, she married and moved to America in 1996.
She came looking for adventure – and found out that she could draw.
This came as quite a surprise to everyone – to Jo most of all. At school, she had enjoyed illustrating her history assignments with cartoon Napoleons and copying Disney and Snoopy characters for birthday cards and posters. But in British schools, choices have to be made. And at age 14, Jo had to drop Art as a subject if she was going to continue studying French (Mon Dieu!) Now, 15 years later and half a world away, her interest and talent was reawakened and Jo was discovering joy in a box of colored pencils.
Arriving in the USA on only a “wife’s” visa, she found herself barred from getting a job for several years. Luckily, Jo has always had the ability to find something worth doing in any situation. Weekly trips into New York, exploring the great city, found her drawn into its many art galleries and museums. Jo also made good use of her time by learning how to design and write websites – initially to share photos of her NY discoveries with her family and friends back home. And she also explored the history and literature of the “housewife” – a centuries-old community into which circumstances had now thrust her.
But then, most importantly, she visited her local adult school and, in January 2002, signed up for a class called “How to Draw”. Her very first color pencil drawing – “Stolen Glimpse” of a scene caught on her Italian honeymoon – was entered for Essex Exposed 3. It was accepted – her first, thrilling juried show at her first attempt. Just a year later, the still-life “Beetboots” won her Best in Show at the Park Avenue Club with, as her prize, her first solo show!
This time the thrill of winning was somewhat tempered by the realization that she had not been drawing long enough to have amassed enough work for a solo show. A furious four months’ scribbling ensued, with the final drawing making it to the framer’s on Christmas Eve.
Eventually that apartment gave way to a whole house, and Jo could spread her elbows from a tiny corner of the living room to her own studio. The elegant economy of the colored pencil would never lose its appeal but, now, with that proverbial room of one’s own, even the mess, fumes and space required for oil painting was no longer prohibitive. Jo signed up for “Oil Painting 101” at the local art school and, nine months later she had already sold her first painting and had several works accepted into juried shows across the country. She continues to explore her themes of domesticity, and the beauty that can be discovered in the everyday (even producing a prize-winning view of the inside of her dishwasher!)
Meanwhile, all that preliminary time she spent learning to create websites did not go to waste. The website www.bradney.com grew along with the art and, along with her regular shows in American galleries, Jo has created a community of followers worldwide through selling excellent quality prints and small originals directly from the website and on other internet art sites, such as Imagekind, Etsy and eBay.