Joan DaGradi grew up in Baltimore, studied art in Provincetown, MA and New York, and has called New Orleans home for many years. As a young artist, DaGradi was taught by Henry Hensche to capture sunlight using oil paint, at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, MA. Today, working on location continues to play an important role in her creative life. Describing her work, DaGradi says "I generally walk or drive around until I see something that inspires me. Frequently, that could be a shadow on a wall or rust on an old tin roof. It’s rarely what anyone else would call beautiful or even interesting. If it speaks to me, if I find it visually interesting, then there’s hope for a picture, and most often I’ll do a quick watercolor or pencil study. I also enjoy painting from memories accumulated over a life time of painting outdoors. Sometimes the sketch will stand on its own or might become the basis for a larger work. Watercolors are ever the fresh and elusive challenge".
DaGradi was a founding member of the Degas Pastel Society and is a Signature member of the Louisiana Watercolor Society. Her work at a New Orleans art gallery exhibit drew praise from former art critic Roger Green, of the Times-Picayune when he wrote: "DaGradi has contributed the most impressive works to the show. Her small drawings of local scenes are tiny jewels. DaGradi's work makes the 'Louisiana Interpretations' credible". A critic from the New Orleans Gambit Weekly Newspaper also favorably wrote: "What makes these paintings fresh is that the sites under DaGradi's gentle brush become dreamlike. 'Beautiful and tranquil' best describe DaGradi's work."