Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting to know you - Julie King

It's Saturday and so it's time for another interview. This time we're slightly more on the art side of the spectrum, but it's all good. Especially when it's as good as Julie King. Her pieces have that certain something that I can't quite put my finger on, but which inspires me A LOT! I hope you will find her words inspiring as well. Enjoy!

Your name
Julie King Art :: blog :: shop ::

Where in the world are you?
Englewood, Ohio

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I am a self-taught mixed media artist. I’ve worked in marketing and creative support positions throughout my career so have had the privilege of working with some wonderful artists. Always bubbling in the back of my mind was the desire to take the creative plunge myself. I’ve always loved paper and a little over a year ago I started experimenting with torn paper collage after reading an article in Somerset Studio magazine. I apply torn paper to canvas, wood, journals and other items to create my unique original art which has a mosaic or batik look to it. I’m in the process of branching out to apply my collage technique to smaller crafty items as well.

Who or what inspires you?
Nature inspires me as much as anything. I love creating images of birds, flowers, trees, sunsets and other nature-inspired themes in my torn paper collage style. I am also very inspired by other artists who push the creative envelope in new and interesting ways. Words and poetry are great influences in my art as well. I love to hear a phrase and then think to myself what image I would create to go with the phrase. A current fave is the title to a country song: ”caramel colored sunset sky”. I have it written on a post-it above my art table for a future project.

When / how did you learn?
All of my learning comes from experimentation, reading something or just seeing something I like. Sometimes I see a piece of art or an image and challenge myself to recreate it in my style or to tweak it in a new and interesting way. My last official art class was in 8th grade which was decades ago so I truly am self-taught. I have very little fear about experimenting and just going for it!
Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand?
A great sense of accomplishment comes from making something by hand. And, I love giving my little creations away as gifts. For me, there’s really nothing like giving or receiving a handmade gift as it carries a special piece of the creator with it. I am totally hands-on with everything I do so making handmade things is a natural. My greatest legacy is my two children who are wonderful adults, each giving back to the world in their own unique way. I like to think that some of my art will carry its own unique legacy some day as well.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
If I have a philosophy it’s really just to have fun with it. I really enjoy what I do and my hope is that wherever the piece lands there will be someone who enjoys it as well.

Fondest craft-related memory?
Early in the collage experimentation process, I decided to collage onto an old pottery vase. After attaching all of the little torn pieces of paper, I didn’t like the look of it at all. The edges of all of the little pieces of paper were white and to me it was kind of ugly. I wanted a more antique-looking finished product. So, I looked around my art room for a way to accomplish that. I started experimenting with chalk rubber stamp ink, using a small paintbrush to apply the ink to the white edges of the glued-down paper. And, voilà! it was the exact effect I wanted. It was a wonderful light bulb moment!!

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
I do a good deal of sketching with colored pencils to generate ideas. I try to be very loose and let the images just roll onto the paper. Once I’ve decided on a rough idea and a canvas size, I tape a piece of tracing paper onto the canvas and use pastel chalks to sketch the idea onto the paper. This becomes my very rough blueprint for the design but honestly I rarely stick with this blueprint. Each design has a tendency to ebb and flow into a whole new design which always ends up to be a good thing. Next I spend a good deal of time selecting just the right papers in the right colors and patterns. I move on to tearing the paper into small interesting shapes. I tear the paper so that all sides have a white edge. Then I use a small foam brush and mod podge to apply the paper to the canvas or wood surface. This is a very organic and intuitive process. I try not to overthink what I’m doing. Paper collage is quite forgiving and can be easily altered if you make a mistake so there’s no worry involved. After all the paper is down I use pastel chalks, oil pastels, rubber stamp ink and occasionally a small amount of acrylic paint to add embellishments, depth and dimension. A couple coats of protectant on the top finishes the piece off.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
When I make a mistake or just don’t like something I’ve done is when I need to get really creative and find a way to fix it. Some of my mistakes have led to the most wonderful surprises and aha moments. A wonderful feeling of delight comes over me when this happens!! Of course, I have a pile of canvasses thrown into the corner of my art room that just did not work out (aka the art graveyard!!). Some day I’ll go thru them and salvage what I can or just pitch them. Sometimes it’s fun to look at them and celebrate how far I’ve come in such a short period of time.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
Somerset Studio; Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion; Cloth, Paper, Scissors; Freestyle, Breaking out of Your Box with the Artists of Autumn Leaves; Mixed Media Explorations by Beryl Taylor; Collage Unleashed by Traci Bautista. And, I’m really looking forward to the release of Kelli Rae Roberts’ book Taking Flight which is due out this summer!!!

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
I am so very blessed to have my own art room!!! My husband and I are empty-nesters so I’ve converted a spare bedroom into a creative haven where I can get lost in my work. This means the world to me! It helps me to be more organized and focused. Plus I can sing out loud and dance to my heart’s content while allowing the creative muses to flow!

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
Several of them! Until the end of April I was employed by a company that designed and manufactured journals so I am a true journal lover. I currently have 4 journals in play – each with its own unique purpose. It helps me to stay organized and frees me up to be more creative.

Why is crafting good for you?
I was a single parent for 18 years, raising my kids pretty much by myself which was an all-encompassing task. I poured so much of myself into ensuring that they would be happily self-sufficient and when the mission was accomplished and they were grown and living their own wonderful lives I felt a huge void. Crafting has filled that void and allowed me to spread my wings and fly in a way I never could have imagined. Huge, huge thanks go to my hubbie, Bill, for all his love and support! He entered my life at the point that my daughter (my youngest) left for college and he was the first to recognize how much I was going to need a new creative ”project”!!

Is your craft a business as well? Any advice on running a crafty business?
Yes, my craft is a business as well but in the infancy stage. My only advice would be to have fun with it and don’t be afraid to shamelessly self-promote!

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
What would I do without my blog? I totally resisted the idea of blogging for a good while and looking back I wonder what was I thinking. The wonderful support I’ve found on blogger and etsy has been the wind beneath my wings, giving me the courage and the drive needed to continue on this wonderful journey! My sales have not been great but all good things come in time. Just keep believing!

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or even skill, what would it be?
Some day I want to do a huge canvas with my torn paper collage version of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I can see it in my mind and it is beautiful!

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