Love of her adopted country is apparent in Joan van Belkum’s works; she revels in the wide open space and dry lands of southeastern Alberta. Finding nuance and interest in coulees, badlands and stretches of countryside that reach to the horizon, van Belkum’s palette is of that land. Her close observation of her subject is evidenced by her careful blend of ochres, blues, reds, yellows and the occasional striking green. She painted the heat and the wind. Yet, when needed, she also captured cool, soft shadows and quiet sanctuaries.
Chiefly self-taught, Joan van Belkum did attend classes organized by the Medicine Hat Community Art Club (now Hat Art Club) and the Department of Extension, University of Alberta. Her instructors included Luke Lindoe, H.G. Glyde, Harry Wohlfarth, and Les Graff as well as many other instructors who travelled into Medicine Hat to teach for an enthusiastic group of artists.
Joan van Belkum had numerous solo exhibitions from 1964 in Calgary, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge. In 2005 Joanne Marion curated an exhibition in the Esplanade, Medicine Hat called Joan van Belkum: Visibility Unlimited. Her work was purchased for a Rotary Event in Waterton / Glacier International Peace Park in 1955. The artist exhibited from 1963 onward in group exhibitions including the Manisphere Group of Artists Shows at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (starting 1965 to 1978), Sharing Visions (an exchange organized by the Alberta Society of Artists and centres in Japan and Korea in 1984), The Works, Celebration of Women in the Arts (Edmonton, 1988) and more recently (2013) her work was in the group exhibition RIVER/WATER at the Esplanade. Joan van Belkum's work is in a number of public and corporate collections: Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Collection of the Governor General of Canada, Medicine Hat College, Medicine Hat Museum & Art Gallery (now Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre), Petro Canada, River Centre Dental Clinic, Winnipeg Gas Company, City of Medicine Hat, Canadian Pacific, Canadian Fertilizers, Dofasco Steel (Hamilton, ON), Dominion Glass, Southam Press, Western Co-operative Fertilizers. Her work is also in numerous private collections.
She was a member of the Alberta Society of Artists and the Hat Art Club.
Born in London, England, the artist graduated with a Degree in Medicine from the University of London in 1947. She came to Medicine Hat, Alberta in 1955 and continued to live in that city until she passed away in 2014.