Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Meet Julie Cook, A Lake County Artist and member at Stella's Art Gallery

If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. Vincent Van Gogh

This is one of my favorite art quotes and it comes into my mind often.  You may wonder why. When asked, I say, “I just started painting six years ago!” My children are grown and out on their own. (I can’t say I started as late as Grandma Moses though!)  I had started a “faux painting” business to help raise money and support an organization that works with at-risk children on the Thailand/Burma border. My daughter and son-in-law work with these children and give them an education, job skills and much more. While painting a customer’s wall, I decided to experiment some techniques on canvas. I only had tools and paint from either doing “faux” painting or wall painting and leftover paints from when my children were at home.  I couldn’t stop experimenting! In two or three days I

had about 5 or 6 paintings done. I was “shocked” at the results and showed my customer. She told me I should paint more and try and sell the paintings to raise money. She called me “an artist” and I disagreed, because I had no training and was just having some fun. I have always loved to create things, and knew I was handy with all sorts of tools but had never considered trying to do what I would call “art” until then. Even as a student in junior high I was not recommended to be one of the students who could take art in High School. I suppose this is where the voice within me said “you cannot paint” or you cannot do “art”.
After seeing what I had painted, my customer suggested that I should pursue what I had just now discovered about myself.  As I did, and the voice was silenced!  I approached a small gallery in the Tremont area of Cleveland, and they took several paintings. I was overjoyed when I heard my first piece of art sold in a gallery, but later found out that I needed to rework my prices because I think I only made $5 to donate to the charity I support.  My art sold well at that gallery until they closed a couple years after that.
“Practice any art, however well or badly, not to get money or fame, but to find out what's inside you.” Kurt Vonnegut

Working at this “artist” thing has certainly made me grow in many ways. I have something to talk about now, and I am driven to continue even when I’m uncomfortable because I know sales of my work help others who are in such need. I am discovering more about myself and enjoying the process.

Most of what I paint are images from my imagination or a combination of things I’ve seen, places I’ve been, or an abstraction of that.  Being self-taught and starting out with unconventional tools gives me lots of different ways to express what is inside me. I’m often told that my art carries a lot of emotion, and perhaps that is true. I do not know how to paint without my feelings. I hope that my work draws people in. I believe that God allowed me to discover my gift at this time in my life for a reason. I have time to work on my paintings and I have a reason to continue.  I hope my art brings joy, brings life, peace, happiness, fun, or good memories when it’s observed.
“To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.” Robert Schumann

I am still learning as I am constantly experimenting with new ideas and techniques. I do a variety of work, mostly in acrylics but I also do mixed media pieces.  Most of my work is not drawn out first or even sketched on paper before hand and often starts to take shape and develop as I move the paint around. Often it changes as I’m painting and sometimes it changes course more than once. I also love to play around with wood and tools for building projects that come up.  And I’ve just recently taken a pottery class from Dani, at Stella’s Arts, and I think that brings out different type of experiments to do! I saw a pastel kit on sale and ordered that as well! Being an artist here at the gallery has given me more incentive to learn and develop my work. I think I will always be somewhat “unconventional” in the way I create my work, but I certainly admire the variety and skills I see here.

You can see her artwork at Stella's Art Gallery. You might even find her doing a demo, taking a class, or just hanging out at the Gallery located in the Matchworks Building. 

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