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s t o R i e s [emporium] X J o a n n a H o p k i n s [painter]

The next in our series of stories behind the makers at our s t o R i e s [emporium] PoPuP is Joanna Hopkins...

We were really blown away when Jo agreed to exhibit her amazing gold leaf works of art on our walls... We find something new in them every single day

joanna hopkins isle of wight painter exhibiting at wyatt and jacks stories emporium pop up bembridge

[summer of '63. gold leaf and oils on canvas]

Here Jo, describes her processes and inspiration...

"I try to paint what people can’t always see.


I love the small old black and white photos usually taken using a Box Brownie Camera – most people have got these family pictures stored away somewhere; snapshots of older relatives in their youth.  These are my most favourite things.


While I was studying I would spend a lot of time setting up the portraits I wanted to paint – then one day I realised that I really didn’t care about the background or the clothing, I just wanted to see the person. I remember looking at an intricate oil painting I had been working on for weeks, and I just wanted to get rid of everything that seemed irrelevant. So, I got a pot of black paint and painted over almost everything – the interior background that I had so carefully set up – gone in a few swipes. The objects and decoration – gone. I painted over all the clothing, all the colour and detail obliterated by thick, deep, gloriously liberating black. All that was left was flesh and hair – and it was great.


So that’s what I do now. I take the small little beautiful black and white photographs and make them into big oil paintings. I spend time – a lot of time – painting every detail of those figures and it’s important that I still paint the clothing and the backgrounds too, but now, when I’ve finished I cover over everything that doesn’t really matter and just leave flesh. By masking over what’s irrelevant it can reveal relationships, emotions, secrets, lies; things that were always in those precious little snapshots but we are usually too distracted to notice.


Sometimes I use thick gloss paint – I love how immediate and unforgiving it is, and utterly beautiful. But, mostly I use gold leaf metal. A lot of my paintings are from my family photos and along with the time devoted to painting the subjects, gold leaf makes these paintings precious.


I’m a painter. I love to paint and I have had my distractions from the portraits. I grew up surrounded by horses, they are another passion of mine and I often want to paint them, so I paint them lifesized, dogs too and other animals – using the same idea that by getting rid of the background details the paintings become a much stronger presence. And, I love throwing paint at finished work. I’m happy to spend weeks sometimes months doing an oil painting, gold leaf the background then throw gloss paint at it. It’s a huge adrenaline rush – is this going to make the work even better; seeing the two different materials work together; seeing the painstaking detailed work enhanced by the chance encounter with the impulsive ‘action’ painting? Or is it going to be completely ruined? I’ve had a couple of disasters – but when it works…it’s the best thing ever.


I studied art at Winchester School of Art and Design and graduated from Cumbria College of Art and Design with a Fine Art Degree. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to have work exhibited in solo and group shows in London and America, with paintings selling across the world.


You can follow Joanna on Instagram @joanna_hopkins_painter  and see more work of her work on her website at

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