Please welcome JoAnn Simon, author of Rose Colored Glasses

JoAnn Simon’s experience taking her first art class reminds me of mine. I went with two girlfriends, straddled a sit-down easel, and began to draw a still life, using a charcoal pencil. The teacher came around and showed me almost immediately what I was doing wrong. But, I continued taking that once-a week-class for years and years progressing from charcoal to pastel to oils and then to acrylics. The bonus: after class we always stopped for coffee and dessert.

So I very much welcome JoAnn here today as she shares about her first art class experience that has continued on for the last twenty years. Her memoir, Rose Colored Glasses: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Hope, launched on July 23, 2018. I also thank WOW! Women on Writers for inviting Choices to join JoAnn’s blog tour.

“Seeing Art Through the Artist’s Eye”
by JoAnn Simon

I always appreciated art and often wondered how the artist became so inspired to create a piece that evoked so many emotions and feelings.  Then I took an art class.

My two kids had grown to become independent high school and college students and did not need their Mom much, so it was time for me to do something for myself.  My friends, Deb and Rosemary, encouraged me to join their weekly art class.  I treated myself to a $65.00 six-week-class at the local Parks and Recreation for my birthday.  It turned out to be one the best investments I ever made.

I arrived at the class with a notebook and pen.  To my surprise, several people had paints and easels all set up and were actually painting.  Oh my!  What did I get myself into?

I sat at the back of the room and waited patiently for the class to begin.  Our teacher Adele was setting up a beautiful still life of mums, gourds and other wild flowers that screamed autumn.  She started the class saying that she would do a demo to kick off the season with a new member, Jo Ann Simon.

My panic was quickly settled when Adele brought me a complete setup with paints, easel, pencils and erasers.  Everything an artist would need to paint.  I explained that I could not possibly paint, I was here to learn how.  She smiled and said “This is the best way to learn”.  Her demo and dissertation was quick and produced not a replica, but a rendition that assured you that the simple things in life could be the most precious.

Then, everyone started to try to recreate that simplicity and richness.  I sat back and watched the others as they started immediately.  I felt timid, overwhelmed, and excited at the same time.  Adele had explained that you were not painting a flower or a gourd.  “You wanted to capture the essence of the space, squint your eyes and look at the values of everything you see, from light to dark” Adele explained.   When I did that I didn’t see gourds or flowers, I saw symmetry of colors, shapes and values that were organized in a beautiful pattern that was mesmerizing. The question was, how do you transfer what you see onto paper with paints that have a mind of their own?  That was the challenge.

As I started to paint, I become engrossed in a different world that calmed me and ignited a spark in me that will never be put out.  It felt like the awe of delivering a baby that you created, but this was a lot less painful.    Adele walked about the room coaching others, asking some why they were doing what they were doing, not reprimanding but putting them back on course.  She did not say a word to me, except to continue doing what I was doing.

When I thought I was finished, or was too afraid to add anything else for fear of ruining it, she took it from me and showed it to the class.  I was mortified!  Now I would find out everything that was wrong.  She complimented me and stated that this was my very first painting.  She continued to point out what I had accomplished in the details of it and the class applauded me.  I’m not sure if the encouragement was justified or to inspire me to continue painting.  It succeeded in making me feel like an artist that would continue to paint.  I stayed with that class for years.  I still have that painting, and pull it out once in a while to laugh at how simple and awful it is at the same time.  But, it does remind me of the precious things in life.

The next day as I drove to work, I squinted my eyes and looking at the world as an artist.  I almost drove off the road captivated by this new view.  But, here I am to talk about it 20 years later with numerous paintings sold worldwide and wonderful precious friends Adele, Deb and Rosemary who continue to encourage me onward.


Book Summary: 

Dear Tom, 
I’m back on Anna Maria Island… missing you.
But walking down these beautiful beaches reminds me of us and makes
me feel a little less far away from you. And that encourages me as I am writing our story.
Hopefully this will help other people who are feeling our pain too.
I love and miss you every day, darling.

When he first saw me, Tom said that he would spend the rest of his life with me. To my surprise, he actually did. He was the love of my life. We shared a story that felt like a dream. Every moment was an adventure… and then Tom became ill. As his mysterious symptoms persisted we were hurtled through a maze of fear, tests, doubts and sorrow. But while doctors toyed with diagnoses – Lyme disease, ALS – we filled each day with joy, hope, good food, wine, music and travel. Even when death came to crush our storybook romance, we found that the human spirit is greater than the frailties of the body, greater than suffering and grief.

From the fateful tick bite on Block Island to central nervous system failure, to healing my grief and loss, I stayed afloat, upbeat, and connected to Tom through devotion, true love, and by donning my own special pair of rose-colored glasses.

Paperback:  288 Pages
Publisher:  WiDO Publishing (May 29th 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1947966049
ISBN-13: 978-1947966048

About the Author: 

Jo Ann Simon, a corporate executive, is a lifelong nutmegger, living in various locations in the Nutmeg state of Connecticut. She is a constant traveler, exploring the world including her favorite country, Italy. When she is not traveling, Jo Ann loves spending time with her family, friends and her seven grandchildren. Her day job running a company, painting fine art, gardening and writing fill in the blanks of her life. Palm trees are essential in her personal landscape with beaches to match.

Find JoAnn Online:

Instagram: forgetmenotjosi


Thank you, JoAnn, for sharing your thoughts about the value of having a creative outlet in our lives and for still having time to write a moving memoir about your life with Tom.


  1. Madeline,
    Thank you so much for having me on your blog and for your kind words. It was great to hear your very similar art story.
    Best Regards,
    Jo Ann

  2. Crystal Otto says

    Thank you JoAnn and Madeline!

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