In the weeks leading up to this year’s Holiday Arts Tour, NCLAC will be posting articles about the participating artists here on the blog and on NCLAC’s Facebook page. Julie Crews is our first featured artist. She is new to the Tour this year.
Grown from the hills of North Carolina, Julie Crews is a transplant to Ruston and lives with her scientific husband and her four very young and spritely children. She is inspired by the small, simple and often poor things in life, and everyday items are a recurrent theme in her work. She finds them encouraging and inspiring.
She states, “Even as my family has grown and the demands of life have increased, I realize that the time I spend painting is not a selfish activity. On the contrary, it is an act of giving.”
Sharing her talents with others drives her to improve, and allows for a richer and deeper life experience. She enjoys snatching scenes digitally to recall later and is seldom found without her camera. She also enjoys working from life, but a carefully orchestrated still-life is not always safe in her busy home.
She participated in the 33rd Annual Spartanburg Sidewalk Art Juried Exhibition (Spartanburg Museum of Art), and had her first solo exhibition in Salt Lake City in 2008. To date, she is self-taught in oils.
2. What is something that inspires, influences, and/or drives you as an artist?
Long ago, I was a maid. The lady of the house considered herself a painter. On the third floor of her white brick, colonial home was her studio. There, shelves lined the room and were filled with books of all sorts. Baskets and interesting containers were stacked on little tables, and canvasses both leaned against and hung on the white walls. In the center of the room was a large table where more items of inspiration were placed, as well as a myriad of supplies. This studio would be the envy of every artist I now know, minus one thing. Use. The dust was thick and the oil tubes were rocks. The most recent painting indicated its creation was in excess of thirty years prior. I was physically sick the day I discovered the room. It was not always easy to admit being impacted so immensely by a negative experience, but I vowed then (as I also considered myself an artist) to never become that person. I will paint. And paint. And paint.
3. Regarding the “business” of being an artist, how do you promote yourself, and does it work?
I just work. I paint and keep my ears open for opportunities to share the images I am producing. I learned years ago that spending a lot of time “promoting” myself kept me from painting, and logistically, that just didn’t work for me.
4. Do you find yourself more attracted to work that is not like your own, or work that has similarities to yours? Why?
I find that the art work I want my paintings to resonate with is what I am attracted to. If I see someone’s art and it has a more sophisticated color pallet than mine, whether the subject matter is similar or not, I am drawn to it. If I see an interesting subject, I take that with me. The art I am drawn to reflects what I want to learn. The more I learn, the more I want to learn, so that really opens up a wide range of possibly attracting artwork during my lifetime.
5. Did you go to art school or receive lessons, and if so, are you satisfied with the experience vs. teaching yourself? (vice versa for those that did not receive training)
All the tutelage in the world will be to no avail if the student does not continue to learn for himself.
2. What one word would your friends use to describe you?
3. What’s one thing about you that few people know?
One of my favorite things to do is to smile at strangers.
4. What is your favorite restaurant?
Can you say RAW FISH? Seriously, if I was rich and famous, I would have my own personal sushi chef make me yummy maki rolls everyday.
5. What is your favorite book, television, show, website, and/or magazine?
My love of television is my dirty little secret. I am an addict. I just don’t seem to have the ability to control myself when it comes to that little glowing box of colors and voices, which is why I haven’t owned a television in over ten years. Even commercials are exciting to me! I do, however, get my “fix” while visiting relatives (especially during the holidays). And when the space of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas gets to be too much for me, I go to HGTV.com Love that Design Star.
6. What gem of advice would you like to share that someone shared with you?
If you share the same bed, the same God, and the same bank account, you will have a happy marriage.
And, “Paint like a rich man.”
It is my desire to never recover.
I feel very much still a student in my work because I aim to learn something every time I spend an hour with a brush in hand. Nothing can touch the feeling of an activity you are addicted to. I am fortunate enough to live with a healthy addiction, one to painting.
Bites of lunch are frequently interrupted by a short walk down the hallway and into the paint thickened air of the studio. Just a peek before I finish my sandwich, as if something might have magically changed on the easel since I left to construct my spicy black bean burger.
When the work is going well, or when the work is going poorly, it is the same: I long to return to my squeaky little chair, so I can think some more, so I can see some more.
I love the process dearly.
The object of my current affection keeps me engaged until the engagement is broken by its completion. Then: need more. Enter: new bright and blank flat surface.
In my current work, I am excited about repetition. I want to see what happens to my process when I repeat a common subject throughout multiple pieces and also within a single composition.
As people experience my paintings, I hope they share a portion of the joy I experience while creating them. Painting, for me, is in large part a process, where I not only develop my God given talent, but also my personality. It brings me closer to the achievement of a fully developed relationship with God and with myself.
Visit Julie’s blog @ www.juliecrews.com