Joanne Tod chose to use paint as her medium in the mid-1970s and continues to work as a painter. She received her fine arts education at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto from 1970 to 1974. She works on a grand scale: her figurative works tend toward high illusionism, displaying brilliant hues. Through her paintings, she has consistently been critical of the status the medium has held in art history.
The most common subjects in her paintings have been women and interiors. Various arrangements of these have allowed her to comment on the ironies of image, power, and glamour in our culture. Of late, she has eliminated figures from her work and instead features elaborate public interiors. The figures that are central in Having Fun? (1984) and The Time of Our Lives (1984) have been replaced by interrupted spaces, such as those in See the Rushes (1991) and A Significant Reveal (1990). She found that the figures became a distraction to her principal interest of constructing a pictorial space.