For the love of art

Bensalem artist Joanna Krasnansky displays scenic watercolor exhibit at the Bucks County Visitor Center

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Sparking an interest: Bensalem resident, Joanna Krasnansky, has been painting since 1960 when she married her late husband, Rudy, who was an artist. As she honed her craft through classes and books, art became a true passion. Now, she paints every day in her home studio. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

It’s easy to get lost (both mentally and physically) among the walls of paintings in Joanna Krasnansky’s home studio in Bensalem. But her Yorkie, Mia, has it down to a science.

On tiny legs, she bounds around corner after corner, passing countless works of art hung in precise rows stretching to the ceiling. Those walls are a testament to Krasnansky’s years of dedication to her craft. Now, with 24 pieces on display through Jan. 5 at the Bucks County Visitor Center, guests can enjoy Bucks-related watercolors capturing favorite spots and hidden gems.

For Krasnansky, any day she doesn’t paint is a day wasted. Each morning, she follows a peaceful routine of brewing a fresh pot of coffee before heading straight to her art desk, Mia never far behind. Though painting now consumes the majority of her time, this wasn’t always the case.

It all began in 1960, when she married her late husband, Rudy, who was an artist. While he was at work during the day, she experimented with his watercolors. Each night at the dinner table, she proudly showed him what she created and he would provide feedback and suggestions.

“I always believed a husband and wife should have something in common,” she said.

Over the years, Krasnansky’s initial interest turned into a passion, as she became a member of the Levittown Art Association and started taking classes each Thursday evening at the William Penn Center in Fallsington.

Though both certainly helped Krasnansky hone her craft, she found art books from the local library to be the most useful. She could revisit lessons and techniques anytime she wished, and didn’t have to wait a week until her next class.

As the blossoming artist continued to grow, one thing became clear to her.

“Art will either inspire you or defeat you,” she said.

Every artist, according to Krasnansky, will run into problem areas at some point, whether it’s finding a better use of color or accurately drawing a particular aspect of nature. For her, the only way to overcome these obstacles was to push through them, continue to grow and not be afraid to ask for guidance.

During Krasnansky’s early days of painting, her primary subjects were her children. Though she cherished the finished product, keeping them in a still position proved to be the biggest challenge. Even the best bribes and distraction of The Brady Bunch didn’t hold their attention for long. That’s when she decided to start painting buildings.

“They don’t move,” she laughed.

With historic architecture and breathtaking landscapes right at her fingertips, she began painting scenes from across Bucks County, many of which are featured at the Visitor Center. One piece is of a snow-covered gazebo in Washington Crossing, which correlates nicely with the season, while another depicts arches in Levittown. The 24 pieces are a combination of original watercolors and limited-edition reproductions of her paintings.

Around town: Joanna Krasnansky’s primary subjects are buildings and architecture from across Bucks County. At her current exhibit at the Visitor Center, guests can enjoy scenes like a snow-covered gazebo in Washington Crossing and arches in Levittown. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

In addition to the Visitor Center, Krasnansky’s paintings can be seen in the hallway leading to Mayor Joe DiGirolamo’s office in the Bensalem Township Municipal Building. When the township celebrated its tricentennial in 1992, she was asked to create and contribute a number of pieces, which have remained a staple of the building to this day.

When Krasnansky isn’t adding to her studio walls with breathtaking local scenes, she’s sharing her knowledge with other women looking to try their hand at art. Every Friday, she teaches a watercolor class of 12 students at the Middletown Senior Center. A homework assignment is given each week, for which the class is required to practice certain techniques. Most recently, they learned how to draw a realistic tree, making the trunk larger at the roots with smaller branches at the top.

Krasnansky gives them suggestions (much like Rudy did for her), though she said they’re not required to follow any of them. While she thinks a tree should be captured a certain way, a student may interpret it differently, which for her is the beauty of art.

Though she may need to construct a few new display walls, Krasnansky has no plans to slow down anytime soon. When the weather warms in the spring, she will most likely be found at a number of art festivals, her favorite atmosphere to display her work. After years of attending these events, she’s made decade-long friendships and lasting connections over a mutual love of art.

Krasnansky’s free watercolor exhibit will be on display at the Bucks County Visitor Center, 3207 Street Road in Bensalem, daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Jan. 5. For more information, call 215–639–0300 or visit www.visitbuckscounty.com/.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com