Joe Montgomery’s work is almost purely abstract, with a focus on pattern and color in nature. He has studied the works of the Old Masters but also finds inspiration in the works of artists such as Soutine, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock. “I come from a tradition of abstract expressionism, but I am doing something that is my own. ‘Everyone else is taken, so you have to be yourself.’ That’s what Oscar Wilde said.”
During the Vietnam War, Joe served in the Air Force in Thailand. His time there deepened his existing interest in Buddhism and Asian art. After finishing his time in the Air Force, Joe attended MTSU and studied painting under David LeDoux, who encouraged Joe’s study of Buddhism and emotional use of color.
Later Joe attended the University of Georgia with the help of a Ford Foundation fellowship. He studied under Elaine de Kooning, Jim Herbert and Mike Nicholson, and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1978. He was strongly influenced by Matisse and flourished as a figurative expressionist painter.
Joe works primarily in the direct medium of watercolor, and seems to intuitively handle the wet-on-wet technique with ease. He follows the nocturnal sleep habits famously used by Picasso and Elvis, sleeping most of the day and painting through the night. “I don’t paint every day, only about four days a week. You need that time off to let the ideas grow. A field at rest will yield a bountiful crop.”