Dutch Flat watercolor artist and teacher, Joan Chlarson, has been painting scenes of historical Placer County for the past 20 years. A love of the California Gold Rush period has drawn her to buildings and scenes of Dutch Flat, Alta, Gold Run, Colfax and Auburn. The beauty and design found in the natural environment of the Sierra is also an inspiration for her paintings.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Joan graduated from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont with a bachelor of arts degree and a teaching credential. She filled her last two years of college with art courses postponing student teaching. Although her life was filled with marriage, family and teaching she managed to fit in courses in drawing, portrait and watercolor.

Joan continued her art education in workshops with contemporary watercolor painters whose works she admires: Tony Couch (a great teacher of the fundamentals of composition and design), Jan Kunz (children and florals, excellent children’s portrait instructor) and Dale Laitinen (whose love of the Sierra rocks and mountain vistas flow through his watercolors) to name a few. A pivotal turning point for Joan was when she was introduced to the teaching of Edgar Whitney who influenced and taught many of the great watercolorists of today.

Joan’s approach to a painting begins with design and composition, planning a value pattern, and then determining how shapes and symbols will be used in the “building of a watercolor”. Once the final sketch has been completed there is more freedom in the painting process because a solid foundation has been established.

Joan says, “Living and painting in Dutch Flat; the mountains, the people, the history of the place, inspire me and also challenge me to improve my painting. I love the transparency of watercolor and the challenge of letting the light of the paper shine through. It is a medium which can easily be overworked and needs to be well planned for success. Most of the work in an individual painting is done before applying paint to paper.”

Joan Chlarson’s work can be viewed in:


The Chocolate Shoppe Art Gallery 823 Lincoln Way in Historic Downtown Auburn
Placer County Welcome Center, 1103 High Street, Auburn
Dawn & Co in Raley’s Shopping Center


Calico Palace in the Fruit Exchange near the Depot
Colfax Farm Store, East Main Street
Visitor’s Center, RR Depot

Dutch Flat

Dutch Flat Trading Post, Main Street

JOAN’S STUDIO GALLERY at the Chlarson home in Dutch Flat. Call ahead to visit - (530) 389-2769