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Representational Realism in Oil Painted Portraits


Joseph Alexander's life is steeped in art. His grandfather was a traditional engraver. His grandmother was a still-life and landscape oil painter. Joseph's mother is an oil and watercolor painter creating still life and abstract art. His father was an analogue draftsman and darkroom photographer. His sister is a potter. It was in this ecology that Joseph developed his love for human expression through art and began learning to draw and paint. Joseph studied drafting and drawing through high school, and painted here and there when inspiration came. He continued to create in bursts while completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry, biochemistry, nursing, and education.


Joseph pursued oil painting passionately in the new millennium. He studied with Minnesota Flemish-style master Dan Petrov for several years, gaining a strong background in traditional techniques of oil painting. Later, Joseph refined his foundations of oil painting through the unparalleled Evolve Artist training program, mastering direct and indirect painting, and realized his attraction to portraiture.  He continues to study portraiture with acclaimed portrait artist Kevin Murphy, who guides Joseph's progress in the mastery of his craft. 


In 2021, Joseph retired from a career in nursing and higher academia to open Driftless Art Academy, a fine arts school modeled after the teaching studio of his mentor, Kevin Murphy. Joseph teaches representational realism in oil painting to students from eight years through adulthood. Joseph believes that the best artists are made through knowledge, skill, experience, and perseverance.


Joseph is the recipient of a 2023 Emerging Artist grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, in support of his portrait series The Grand Drag Legacy of Southeastern Minnesota; and of a 2024 Individual Support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, in support of his portrait series Minnesota's LGBTQIA+ Legacy: Portraits of Exemplars. He is a member of the Portrait Society of America, Oil Painters of America, and the Minnesota Artists Association. He lives with his husband, globally renowned cybersecurity expert John Alexander, and their German Shepherd Eljay, a locally renowned expert in the manufacture of loose fur.

Joseph accepts work by commission and offers a limited quantity of non-commissioned original paintings for sale. See the Gallery page and contact us directly for sales.

Art is the foundation of culture. It is how our species expresses itself
and how we
validate our existence.
It is how we teach the future who we are.
Art does this
like no other human endeavor.

- Joseph Alexander

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