We sat down with Julie Davis, plein air painter of all things sublime.
How did you get started?
I’ve always loved to draw and had a deep interest in art, but never had any formal training. I earned my degrees in Education and Law. The right combination of opportunity and challenge came one night several years ago when I won the raffle at the Arthouse 5 x 7. Allowed to choose a painting before anyone else, I chose one of the few representational pieces—a work by Davis Gallery artist Laurel Daniel. I met her that night and immediately signed up for her class at The Austin Museum of Art (now The Contemporary Austin).
Who or what has had a major impact on your career as an artist?
Laurel (Daniel) had the biggest impact. She was my instructor, became my mentor and friend, and opened the door to painting for me. The daily painting that I did for several years in the early stages of my learning was invaluable. Beyond that, Richard Schmid’s edges and brushwork, Jill Carver’s striking talent and work ethic, Scott Christensen’s breadth of knowledge and the peace that emanates from his work—I study what I love about others and their work and try to incorporate that into what I do. I read and reread Edgar Payne’s Composition of Outdoor Painting, Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, and John Carlson’s Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting.
Describe a typical day in the studio.
I’m fortunate that my studio is both the one in my home and the entirety of the outdoors. It’s never boring. If I’m painting en plein air, I like to start early and paint for a few hours before the midday sun removes shadow patterns and flattens color, or go out late afternoon and paint until the light fades. If I’m in the studio, which is more common when our family schedule is busier, I begin after my daughters leave for school and paint until they come home. The unbroken hours are rare but critical.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
When I’m not making art, I’m a wife and mother. In fact, that is my first day job and my priority while our daughters are home.
When (if ever) do you feel that a piece is finished?
Paintings definitely have a point at which they need nothing more, but it takes practice (and sometimes luck) to know when to stop. Robert Henri said it well: “No work of art is really ever finished. They only stop at good places.” It’s my job to find that place for each piece.
What was your first job?
I was a summer camp counselor at Camp Mystic in Hunt, Texas, where I taught Arts and Crafts.
Single best invention in your opinion.
The internet. It’s an incredible tool.
What item would you be lost without?
My very cold pillow.
Tell us a bit about your new work in the show.
Other than the rural landscape, edges tie these pieces together for me. I’m becoming more interested in the construction of paintings – in emphasizing some of that. It’s definitely still evolving for me, but I’m more liberal in the use of my palette knife to define edges than I was even a few months ago. Something clicked, and I’ve given myself more freedom with it lately.
And now for the most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?
I’m definitely not the right person to ask . . . . I’m a red wine girl.