Joe Mayer

Jefferson County


B.A. Commercial Art (William & Mary), M.F.A. Printmaking (Catholic University)


I’ve been painting and teaching art since 1959. Every time I pick up the brush it’s a brand new experience. After thirty-five years devoted to watercolor landscapes, I find my work keeps leaning more and more towards nonobjective painting in oils, acrylics and watercolor. I attempt to create a perfect balance between a minimal number of shapes. I call it aesthetic homeostasis.


Like so many artists I have known, my career path has not been a straight line. My undergraduate degree from William and Mary is in Commercial Art. After two years at the McCoy Advertising Agency in Washington DC I decided I wanted to teach art in public schools and after some fancy maneuvering I convinced a high school principal to take a gamble on me even though I had no credits in art education or fine arts. I loved my new career as a teacher. My next goal was to teach in college which meant going back to school in the summers at Catholic University to acquire an MFA degree. Although my main focus was then in printmaking, I became fascinated with watercolor and began studying with Skip Lawrence and Edgar Whitney.

Composition, my major area of interest, led me to a teaching position in design at Prince George’s Community College where, in my second year, I became chairman of the Fine Arts Department. I continued my pursuit of watercolor by attending workshops as well as studying the books and paintings of watercolor artists whom I admired. In 1980 I began teaching private classes in watercolor which, for the next thirty years, has allowed me to conduct workshops across the United States as well as in Mexico and Europe. My continuing curiosity with composition led me to painting in oils and acrylics as I moved increasingly towards nonobjective painting which I have come to refer to as “music without lyrics.”

Other Creative Skills

Painting, Printmaking

Joe Mayer's Work

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