We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Willan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Every since I was child I had a passion for drawing and riding horses, I started out training horses. I don’t think I ever thought of art as something I would pursue as a career. Drawing to me just felt as natural as breathing. I was not exposed to pursuing art as a career but was presented with an opportunity in my early 20’s and have never looked back. For 28 years I’ve owned a faux finishing business which allowed some creative outlet, but nothing has touched my creative side like Fumage has in a long time. I continue doing the finishes although my fine art is moving in the foreground to become my main focus and is definitely who I am and what I was meant to do in my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have used many mediums throughout my career as an artist. A few years ago I came across a technique called Fumage that sparked my interest. Fumage is applied using a candle which leaves a build up of soot on the surface which is then removed using varies tools such as sharp tips, brushes and erasers. When I started using this medium I loved the results and was excited how this would bring another dimension to my art. I grew up producing realistic pen and ink drawings from a young age. Every spare minute I was either riding my horse or drawing, creating was always integrated with who I am. It was my identity as I grew up. After College and well into my faux finishing business I started painting abstract in Acrylics. It helped me loosen up from the tight technical pen and ink drawings I was use to. I was looking for a medium that would allow a little more freedom and movement within the creation. Fumage got me excited to get back to drawing with freedom of movement that pen and ink or graphite did not allow. I had a softer and slightly unpredictable medium that would add that edge to my drawings. It can be extremely challenging at times. Any wrong move before sealing the soot creates challenges since the soot comes off very easily. Even a piece of hair can leave an unwanted mark. But like anything, practice helps over come mistakes and you adapt. From the very first day, I knew once I started using fumage as a medium I fell in love with it and the ideas flooded in. I was excited to create. As an artist, it’s almost a necessity to live, to create. After all these years of creating, I’ve come to a time in my life realizing that this is what I was put on this earth to do for the rest of my life. It’s not just a hobby or something I do in private where nobody can see, I create and am excited to share my creations with anyone and everyone who is interested. Most of my motivation leans toward domestic animals, wildlife and historical figures that tell a story. I spend hours, sometimes days researching photos, watching documentaries, reading articles until something really touches me emotionally. When I feel that emotion an image appears in my head and I’m excited to start a new drawing. I can’t wait to see the progress and end results. Seeing an image born from imagination come to life is extremely fulfilling as an artist.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Houston is a city that offers so many fabulous restaurants to suit any and all types of tastes and styles. Mexican food is a must as is all of the uniquely owned Mom and Pop restaurants such as Juanitas, Flower Child, Barnaby’s, Kraftsman and Christie’s seafood and steakhouse. The art scene is a must see, The Menil Collection, The Jung Center, Museum of fine arts, Contemporary Art Museum of Houston, Rothko Chapel, etc. We love the local craft breweries also, St. Arnolds, Walking Stick, Platupus, Astral, as well as seeing some local music at Rustic, Last concert cafe and House of Blues. One week is not enough to see all that Houston offers but we would squeeze in as much as possible to give a good taste of Houston.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One of the important people I have to thank in my life is Lenny cure. I never would have thought about starting a faux finishing business if I never met him. My first job working with Lenny was to paint a large scale mural on a night club wall. He allowed me to come up with the idea and paint it. I remember feeling intimidated by this project, I told him, what if I mess up? what if it looks bad? I’ve never painted anything that big before. He looked at me and said ” Girl, its just paint, you can paint over it and start again.” He helped me learn to take chances, not be afraid, and go for it. He passed away years ago but I think of him often and appreciate the words of encouragement. Those simple words really changed my life and launched my career as a muralist and faux finisher. I never said no to something a client would ask me to do even if I was a little intimidated . If I didn’t know how to do it I would figure it out. I still hear his words of encouragement, he was a true mentor. and friend to me and I miss him dearly.