Interview with Juliette Crane
Business Name: Juliette Crane LLC
Locale (Where are you?): Madison, Wisconsin
Let’s start at the beginning! Tell us a little bit about yourself and the art you create.
I’m a Mixed Media Painter and I just love anything full of imagination and color. I’ve always been doing something creative (making cards, jewelry, sewing, writing, gardening, baking, floral design), but if I ask myself what I always wanted to do, but never thought I could, I would say painting.
Share with us about that moment you KNEW in your gut that you were an artist. Did you always know, or did you come to your art later in life?
I always knew I was an artist, but I didn’t actually feel that mattered or that I could ever do anything with it professionally until the Fall of 2009. Earlier that year, I’d finished writing a novel for children, then lost my job, and realized I was seriously burned out and unhappy. Luckily, a friend of mine started up an Artist’s Way group (reading Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way) and having that supportive creative group gave me the confidence to start painting and discovering my joy in creating art again.
My book was about a girl who could jump into her drawings and I feel like writing that was a little message to myself to go ahead and jump into my art. These paintings are a direct spin off of the imagination that opened up for me while writing. And I believe one couldn’t have happened without the other.
What are you attempting to say through your work? What is your overall message as an artist?
My hope is that through sharing my art and experiences as an artist, others might be inspired to share with the world whatever it is they’re most passionate about. I try my hardest to tell my story authentically and completely honestly so others can feel the hard work and heart that comes through in all I do and hopefully see how amazing it is to experience life doing whatever it is you love.
Art is therapy for me. It’s a healing process. I’m super emotional and affected by everything around me and creating art allows me to put all of that into one place and work through it. Before I begin any painting, I take a moment to listen to what I’m feeling and set the intention to express whatever that emotion is. I’m always trying to express my feelings and move through and grow from my own experiences, and usually that comes through on some level whenever people see my work.
What tips or advice can you share about developing a strong, unique style?
When I started painting again (fall 2009), I was very attracted to a lot of folk art. Paintings of sweet girls wandering through magical worlds spoke most to me. So that’s the style I emulated and, through that, my own unique style emerged
Whenever I start to admire another artist’s work or style, I pay close attention and recognize it as something in me trying to emerge. Sometimes I print out those paintings I’m admiring and set them on my studio table as I’m working for reference. This really helps me to constantly develop my own artistic style and voice. At first I felt like I was copying, but then I realized it’s just a process that works for me. Now I find I even print out my own work to use as reference for future paintings. It’s important to pay attention to and honor whatever it is that’s really speaking to you.
Describe your artistic process from the first inkling of an idea to completing and sending your end product out into the world. (Is it a smooth, linear progression of ideas, do you begin with sketches or go straight to the canvas? What kinds of thoughts/doubts go through your head as you create and implement a new idea?)
I started documenting my painting process through photos for my blog and an article for somerset magazine, so that people could see my paintings step by step. But what I realized was that my process amazed and helped me too! Nothing is ever planned or sketched beforehand. But now with my owl paintings, I have a bit of a formula that works most of the time. And with my girl characters, there’s a bit of a process too. Yet, sometimes there’s lots and lots of layers and rarely do I get it right the first time.
That’s all part of the discovery and uncovering process for me that I love. I don’t ever start with an idea, just a feeling I try and express. And when I do have an image in my head, I know now I shouldn’t even try to accurately paint it. For me, what happens in the painting process is what makes it beautiful. What’s in my head is just a place to start.
Documenting my process became a way for me to overcome all of the doubts that always come up in my head whenever I paint. There’s almost always a point where I feel lost, like I’m no good, I can’t paint anymore, it’ll never turn out. Especially when I’m trying to do something new. But seeing step by step photos helped me realize, those doubts always come up and time and time again, I figure it out. And even if I’m not completely happy with a painting, I push through, and always learn something. That undoubtedly helps my next piece or the one after that. And that is very comforting.
If you could send a message to a new and struggling artist, what would you say?
Keep going! Share whatever it is that makes you, you! To me, it’s so important that we each tell our own stories and express ourselves in whatever way is best for us. Each person is so unique and beautiful and special and sharing what we have inside does matter! It’s a way for us to connect and relate and eventually not feel so alone and not feel like the only ones.
Once I found an online community (through blogging) of other people who were trying their hardest to express themselves and share their hearts, having their support and encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions.
We’d love to get a sneak peek of your art space! Tell us what you love the most about your art space and what would you most love to change?
I love that everything is super convenient in my studio. I have everything out, and organized but not in a “I have to put it all away neat and clean when I’m done” kind of way. I’ve finally accepted I’m not a neat and clean person. I need to make things easy for me to use and clean up if I’m ever going to put them away or get any work done.
I have cloth shoe racks in two closets in my studio. I fill the spaces with my collage papers and supplies. Each slot is messy, but it’s organized so I can find sheet music here, or origami paper or book pages there. Then I have as much out and ready to go as possible on my studio table. I used to put my paints away in the closet to “clean up.” But they always just stayed out and messy on my table. Now I have a cup for PITT pens and another for paint pens, a dish for pastels and another for pastel colors I always use for faces, then a box for glitter, one for glues, and one for paint tubes. All out and ready to use.
I really wish I had a special space for everything that needs to stay clean like my printer for prints, shipping supplies, in progress orders and fun freebies for etsy orders. Right now everything is in the same room and I’m just careful not to splatter paint everywhere. I also paint whenever I can outside and wish I could have a permanent outdoor studio (with a water fountain and private sink).
“Decide what is sacred to you, and put your best life energies at its service. Make that the focus of your studies, your work, the test for your pleasures and your relationships. Don’t ever let fear or craving for security turn you aside. When you serve your passion, when you are willing to risk yourself for something, your greatest creative energies are released. Hard work is required, but nothing is more joyful than work infused with love.” Starhawk.
A quote a friend gifted me. I keep it beside me bed and read it often.
What do the next 5 years have in store for you?
At the beginning of this year I was creating one of a kind art jewelry, featuring my original work. I would love to connect with companies that can help turn my art into similar pieces on a larger scale, along with additional licensing opportunities. I really dream of having my artwork used on fabric and being worn as fabulous flowing dresses down runways. I’d love one of those dresses too.
In addition to that and everything I’m doing now, I’d also be delighted to teach. I’m not quite sure what that class would look like, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and feel like I’m getting a bit closer to being able to actualize that dream. I’d also adore the opportunity to put my art into a published book.
If someone could write one sentence about you as an artist, what would you like it to say?
My mother-in-law “said” it best the other day. She took one of my paintings from the wall and stood beside me with her hand over her heart and smiled. She didn’t have to say anything. I knew what she meant. And for someone to feel any sort of connection to my art is the best compliment I could ever receive.