A few shots of what’s going on in Judy’s studio today –
I can remember two things about an 8am art class I took in college: It was early, and we were constantly reminded that we “better not make trees”. Our teacher thought they were boring, and for a long time I figured if I learned it in school, it must be true.
So then, why does Judy paint trees if they really are so boring?
Watching Judy paint directed me to take a closer look at trees. Why is she drawn to them? And Judy’s not the only artist. After all, trees were primary subject matter for Paul Cezanne, Ansel Adams, Paul Gauguin, and many others.
The reality is, trees are not boring. They’re the longest living organisms on Earth, and one of our greatest natural resources. They clean the air, decrease noise pollution, help to prevent erosion, improve water quality, offer food and building materials, create shade, and they’re also just beautiful!
I’ve been unlearning some of what I was taught in that class, and rediscovering the beauty of the natural world. Here’s a quick shot of Judy’s latest finished tree series, and I think it’s anything but boring. (See these in person at Austin Art Garage this weekend. It’s part of the West Austin Studio Tour!)
Since fall of 2012, I have been helping with Judy’s Blue J Art Club – art classes for kinder through 5th graders. It’s been an inspiring learning experience for us, watching these kids work and play, helping them collaborate, and seeing what they come up with! It’s often beyond our imagination. Here are a few recent highlights…
Looking at a neat finished painting can easily make us think that of art-making as pure creative joy. A time when a person frees themselves of all that binds them, skipping merrily through a figurative field of flowers with a paintbrush made of rainbows.
In some ways, that thought edges on truth, but in reality, there’s a part of art-making that can feel more like this…
Along with happiness, the creative process comes with uncertainty, struggle, and sometimes failure. I’ve witnessed many journeys Judy has taken as a painter and person. Like most of us, her path is not always clear, sometimes brings on a wave of frustration and even grief, all the while knowing that she will eventually have to put something new and personal on public display. #vulnerable
Part of what makes her successful is her persistence to keep going through the uncertainty, allowing it to push her where she wouldn’t have gone if she had stayed comfortable. There is a level of fear in painting, but she paints anyway.
By not seeing failure as means to an end, but as a necessary ingredient to a breakthrough, she keeps on making surprising work. The process may not be a field of daisies the whole way, but by not throwing down her paintbrushes, Judy usually ends up in the wildflowers.
Last week, I posted about Judy’s ventures with her new Sumi brush. Remember this photo?
After the weekend, I came back to her studio to find the painting (pictured above) had been transformed into this complete painting:
Wow! I think the geometric shapes and bird pattern are pretty amazing, especially on top of her loose layers of Sumi brushstrokes and collage. And, while birds are well-loved classic subjects found in Judy’s work, there’s something extra fresh about these. I can’t put my finger on it, but whatever it is, it’s good. What do you think? Take a closer look…
There’s often an experiment happening in Judy’s studio. A new tool, technique or medium. Her latest addition in the studio is the Sumi Brush. It’s a giant paint brush, originally used in China and Japan for calligraphy, but it can be used in painting to make one-of-a-kind lines.
Judy found this guy’s videos: Bill Buchman. He’s using the Sumi brushes in inventive ways, and offers his own line of brushes at www.sumibrushes.com. A few YouTube videos in, and Judy was inspired to try one out for herself.
Ever since, I’ve seen her shake it up with her paintings, as she allows her art to wander with this cool new tool. Check out these studio shots what’s in progress. It will be fun watching these develop.
I began working for Judy Paul in 2010. My experience had been in the art gallery world, but I felt I was stepping into new territory when I entered Judy’s studio for the first time. It was a creative wonderland: colorful paints of all types, a library of collage materials, a screen-printing station, and at least 3 paintings in the works. She hired me to be her assistant, focused on print-making and taking care of necessary details, so she could focus more on painting. This was the second layer of amazement – not only had Judy created a life about art, she had created her own business, and almost all of it happened right in her home.
Now, three years later, the studio has evolved. The magic of her paintings has expanded through her experiments with new processes, and her business of selling paintings and prints continues to make it possible for many levels of art lovers to own creative works. Last fall, we even began hosting Blue J Art Club, Judy’s art program for elementary school kids.
I’ve been inspired to live a more creative life by knowing Judy. This blog is a peek into what’s happening in and out of her studio, because inspiration should be shared.