Homegrown: 2011 Holiday Arts Tour

Now that the tour is right around the corner Homegrown will be a daily post highlighting our Holiday Arts Tour artists. NCLAC would like to celebrate the artists living in our own backyard whether they were raised here, relocated, or just like to visit enough to call Ruston home. This years Holiday Arts Tour will be November 18, 19, & 20th. Watch here for more information and tour locations. Today's post is Julie Crews, a Ruston resident from Asheville, North Carolina.


Julie Crews is an emerging painter. In 2007 she received an Associate degree in Illustration from Brigham Young University, Idaho and in 2010 she began her education again, seeking a Bachelor of Fine Art from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana. In between her enrollment in these schools, Julie had her first solo exhibit, Ruralscapes, sponsored by the Salt Lake City Public Library System.Her oil paintings range between impressionism and realism, utilizing the strengths of both small and large format. Julie grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and spent many years as a young adult in both southern and northern California. She now lives in Northern Louisiana with her husband and four children.


Playing is an important activity in life. A child learns about the world around him through play and my “play” is painting. When children play they decide amongst themselves where and how to amuse themselves. They come up with ideas and they take initiative. Similarly, I choose where and what I want to paint, then come up with ideas and see how they work. But there are boundaries when it comes to diversions. Parents and teachers do not always simply move out of the way to see what children will do. There are rules. “Be kind”, “Raise your hand” and “Don’t eat the paste.” I have come to rely on the words of wisdom, or “rules” given to me from teachers, fellow artists and unspoken lessons given from the countless paintings hanging in galleries and museums.

Young people also push their limits during play. They may ask themselves, albeit subconsciously: “What can I get away with?” When I paint, I am careful to adhere to the principles of good design. However, I am also excited to push the limitations of my current skill level and challenge the tendencies of my past work, like rendering all my subject matter too tightly. Sometimes I paint from observation, documenting life as it happens, and other times I use study sketches and photo references. Sometimes I paint and ask myself, “What rule can I break? Will I be successful?”, and I measure my success through my experience of the process and product. Did I smile, or did I stamp my feet and cry during the process? Was the product disappointing or in the end, was it beautiful?

Play. Just like a child, I am happiest when it is abundant.


NCLAC: What’s your first memory of the arts, and/or how did you become interested in art?

Crews: When I was 6 or so, I drew the most AMAZING horse of my ENTIRE LIFE (thus far) and I gave it to my Nanny only to discover a few days later that I drew no mane on it.

NCLAC: What inspires, influences, and/or drives you as an artist?

Crews: Something quiet inside me starts to stir when I can take a quiet moment to look on-line at the new work of some of the daily painters I am fond of, or travel to the great museums of our country. When I can see the brushstrokes and stand in the imagined footsteps of the painters, I become extremely anxious to get back in the studio, not to duplicate, or learn through copying (which can be helpful at times) but to give voice to that stillness now awake.

Also, the visualization of my work standing on its own in a gallery setting drives me to create work toward that end. Gallery representation thrills me.

NCLAC: How do you feel about the idea of perfection in art?

Crews: Perfection in art, I think, is really only present in relation to the viewer. One can experience art as a “perfect”, but a true artist, assuming there is such a person, can only be satiated by the learning process. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know, and so it becomes clear how attaining perfection for a seeker is like trying to hit a moving target.

NCLAC: Do you think everyone is or can be creative? If so, what, if anything, sets artists apart?

Crews: The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. It doesn’t matter if one can handle a brush or the keys of a piano. So it stands to reason that anyone can be creative, even if it is not as evident as sculpting a form out of clay. Examples of “hidden creators” are those who can facilitate a good conversation or place a delicious meal on a table, or entertain a child. What sets “artists” apart isn’t much, but just what society has labeled as art, and hence who can create that art as “artist”.

NCLAC:  As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Crews: A lounge singer.

NCLAC: What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Crews: Aspiring.

NCLAC: What one word would your friends use to describe you?

Crews: Solid.

NCLAC: What's one thing about you few people know?

Crews: I swim most mornings at 6 am and don't like the beach.

NCLAC: What is your favorite place in the world, and why?

Crews: In the arms of my husband, because he is the most tender, loving, patient and supportive companion a person could ever hope to have the great fortune of knowing. I am always amazed that he knows me so well, and still loves me.

Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency.  In addition funding for the Holiday Arts Tour is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council and administered by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.