Hi Peeps! Today we're going Behind the Blog today with Juliette Crane. Confession: I really like her art.
Juliette is an artist, blogger, gardener and storyteller. I'm an enthusiastic fan of her work but even more than that, I appreciate her creative spirit and openness. She's got talent and she's not afraid to use it! That includes sharing her processes and techniques on her blog and in other publications.
Tell us about the "wallpaper lightbulb moment"… when did it happen, where did it happen and how did it happen? My sister-in-law gave me a bunch of vintage wallpaper books last summer (2009), and I fell in love with the patterns and colors! I knew I had to use the beautiful paper for something, and It totally sparked this thing in me to go back to doing what I loved as a kid—designing and cutting out outfits for paper dolls. I remember I’d been browsing etsy and paintings of whimsical characters caught my eye, so I bought a few sheets of masonite board and pulled out all of my paints and set up in my backyard and started creating. I just wanted to have fun with art again, so there was no expectations or withholding. I just painted whatever I felt. I never dreamed I’d be sharing those paintings with the world, let alone having them in exhibitions and for sale on etsy.
Was there any part of you that felt anxious or scared in pursuing your dream? How did you deal with it? I was always scared to pursue my dream. That’s why I stopped painting after college and didn’t start again for ten years. I wasn’t so much scared of people seeing my art, but more so I didn’t think anyone would really care about it. I had this impression that being a creative person wasn’t worthwhile. That’s what stopped me from pursuing my dream. And having the support of my husband helped me deal with it. And once he started showing friends and family my paintings whenever they’d stop by, they started giving me the encouragement to have a local exhibition at our public library. And the support just sort of blossomed from there.
You write about intentions… can you explain? I always feel like whether I’m beginning a painting, meeting someone new for the first time, or even answering these questions, if I know my intention, then I can always come back to that if I lose focus. The fun thing then is that I’ve found even when I think I know the whole of my intent, things still come out unconsciously and I’m often surprised at the result.
For example, I started a painting where I collected all sorts of meaningful things from my past-movie stubs, my first apartment lease etc-and I had no idea what the painting would look like, but my intent was to honor my past experiences. I was amazed that I ended up painting a girl holding a gift. The gift was completely unintentional. It only happened because of the order that I glued the paper in the collage. What I thought was the girl’s belt clearly became a gift and the painting became “Gifts to be Remembered.” It helped me realize that all of my past experiences had been gifts. That’s sort of how intentions work for me.
Do your intentions change? The specifics may change, but my overall intent, no matter what I’m doing, is usually to share and best express what’s in my heart. And also to stay present and experience things in the moment as they’re happening rather than getting too lost in my thoughts.
How do you feel when you are putting them to paper/paint? The process of expressing my intentions through art is completely freeing and joyful. It’s like experiencing deja vu, where you know you’re in the right place in that moment and if you catch it just right, everything fits into place in this sort of magical way. I always know I need to take a break or step aside for awhile when that feeling disappears. It’s really about playing and having fun. And if I’m not having fun, I know to step aside.
When you're creating, what's going on in your mind? I’m really not thinking very much when I create. I’m sort of an overthinker and perfectionist in general, which is why I’m certain painting is such a good outlet for me. It’s more that I’ll get sparks of super exciting ideas, like realizing what a character I’m creating is trying to say or knowing exactly what color or paper must go somewhere.
What's been the most surprising part of this journey? Being exactly where I am and having an audience viewing my work, meeting so many lovely and inspiring artists online, getting comments on my blog, having a shop on etsy where I sell my paintings and prints, having classmates from highschool contact me about my paintings, getting published in a magazine (whoo-who! Somerset Studio in the January/February (2011) issue. I’m writing an article on how to paint my owls! I’m SO excited about this!) It’s all amazing and so crazy surprising to me!
Were you blogging before you opened your shop? I did have a livejournal blog for about a year while I was writing a children’s novel before I started painting again. Then it became an art blog and I switched to blogger because I saw there were more artists in that community. How do the two connect? I started my current blog at the end of January (2010) and I thought it would just be a place for me to show the new art I’d be posting to my shop. But then it became an outlet for my experiences growing my creative business and I realized it was okay to talk more about myself and that others actually found inspiration in my story.
How do all the positive comments about your work make you feel? I started a folder in my email inbox entitle “KINDNESS” because I was so blown away by my blog reader’s constant support and encouragement. If I’m having a hard week, all I need to do is look back on those comments and I realize that this IS actually happening and real and I remember why I am doing it all in the first place. It’s really amazing and I can’t say enough how very grateful I am for it all.
Do you ever feel discouraged? Absolutely.
How do you pull yourself out of it? With painting, I’m finally at a point where I recognize a piece doesn’t always work out right away and that’s okay. I don’t need to freak out about. Sometimes that means something new is emerging like a new style of character or background or sometimes it means I need to do some research on alternative techniques to spark something new. If I’m discouraged about the business side of things, that’s when I usually need to take a walk and if it keeps up, I try and take a little roadtrip to really capture some new inspiration.
Fresh From the Ocean
What's your favorite piece of your right now? I’m still loving one of my new pieces, Fresh From the Ocean. I started documenting my painting process for my blog readers and taking photos of several stages of a piece. I realized just how random my process is and how I don’t need to push it. That piece was the first I documented and it’s amazing to me to see how it evolved and I can specifically remember wanting to paint over it all. I often feel that way when I’m frustrated with a piece and that one helps me remember if I keep at it, it will come together or lead to something better.
How would you describe your work? Whimsical and full of imagination.
Where do those ideas come from? I try my best to experience lots of different things. To me, all of those things just sort of merge and congeal somewhere in my subconscious and it comes out in my art. What influences your work? Everyday experiences and all of the little things. Especially when it comes to people. One of my favorite things is to people watch. I get to recognize people’s emotions and expressions that way and I really feel for them, no matter what the experience and somehow I think that comes out in my paintings.
What are you moving toward/moving away from these days? On a large scale I am moving toward simplicity and removing things from my life (or doing my best to) that don’t really click and adding in more things that do. For me right now that means really being honest with myself and not romanticizing the way I think things will be or might be if something was different.
What makes you feel authentic? Nature walks, travelling, smelling flowers, meditation, yoga. Those are things that make me remember I am human and small in the world, but connected to everything.
How did you get the strength to "put yourself out there"? Advice for others? Getting such positive support and encouragement from others has definitely made things feel easier. I have incredible support from my husband, Brian, too. He’s the biggest reason why I am where I am. We went to highschool together, never dated until we remet in Chicago again seven years later. But he saw me when I ate lunch in the art room in highschool and has always known I’m happiest painting.
My advice to others is to follow your instincts and build a supportive community for yourself, whether it’s locally, at home or online. And keep going. If you know you’re passion, go with it, honor and nourish it. If you think you don’t have anything you’re passionate about or “good at” just keep trying things and something will click or lead you to the next amazing thing. Just follow whatever it is that makes you happiest, and if you want to make a career out of it, ask lots and lots of questions and create your own path. Don’t think there’s one way of doing something. There’s always a way.
The first time your wrote Juliette Crane, Mixed Media Artist… how did you feel? Totally awesome. I always change the phrasing of my “signature” and sometimes say a painter, artist or whatever. But it’s been a really huge thing to say it to people when they ask “so, what do you do?” Somehow it makes it all feel real.
Art training? I’ve always been creating something. When I first went to college, I had the inclination to be an environmental biologist, but I just couldn’t stay away from the art department. My place in highschool had always been the art room. Instead of eating in the cafeteria for lunch, I’d go to the art room. But when I went to college, I didn’t ever think I could be a painter for a living, so I didn’t pursue it until I couldn’t resist and just had to take a drawing class (then ceramics, painting, sculpture, photography). I continued taking them all through college, for fun, and ended up with a major in art, but I still didn’t think I could do it as a career, so I double majored in journalism as well and started on that track for a career as an arts journalist.
What do you do for creative joy in addition to painting? Right now, I am mostly painting because that’s what I love most. But I also love gardening, baking and cooking and I love taking photos. I also adore having dinner parties and think there’s definitely a creative art to that too.
Who inspires you? I recently wrote an ART SAVES article for crecendoh.com and along with the feature, I included links to some of my all time favorite inspirations. There are three big ones that have inspired me for ages. First, Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. I just adore her product line. Everything is made my hand, using a combination of new, recycled and organic materials. And I am always inspired by her blog with all of the beautiful photos, recipes and sustainable living insights.
In college, I met a good artist friend of mine, Ryan Spring Dooley whose paintings, graffiti, and stop animations always inspire me.
And I always smile looking at Catalina Estrada’s super colorful and whimsical work. Her art has appeared on some beautiful clothing too, which I so admire.
What colors are you into right now? I’m always into primary colors. And glitter. I can’t get enough glitter!
Coffee or tea? I love dark roast coffee in the morning and green kombucha tea throughout the day.
Favorite city to visit: I love travelling and am delighted going just about anywhere. But definitely my favorite city has been Florence, Italy. We got engaged there and after a rainy trip throughout other parts of Italy, Florence was our one spot with loads of sunshine.
You're at the art supplies store and can only get one thing… what is it? Glitter. Most likely red glitter. But that’s if it’s a luxury trip. If it was a trip to fill a supply need, it would surely be for a black PITT pen. I go through those things like mad.
Personal motto or favorite quote? The one I’m loving right now is a title of a recent painting, “follow your glitter star.” But I also am delighted by this phrase I woke up with one morning, “you are the captain of your own ship.”
Find Juliette Here:
I hope you will stop by tomorrow for the second ever "A Crafty Soiree" party. I am so looking forward to seeing what everyone has been working on. BIG Hug! Malia