Man oh man do we have a good tour for you today, and an inspiring interview. Julia Deckman is a Charleston artist who will be featured at our November Group Show Exaggerated Nature. Julia keeps a studio at the new Redux Contemporary Art Center, which is a critical part of our community - arts and otherwise. Let's just get to the good stuff right now: STUDIO TOUR!
Q: Tell us about your background as an artist.
A: I am mostly a self taught artist, the majority of my art education came in the form of elementary school summer camps and high school art classes. I have always loved painting, ever since I was a little girl, so I finally decided to make my passion my career a few years ago. I attended CofC between 2003-2007, and fell head over heels in love with Charleston. I decided to make the Holy City my home in 2012, and its been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Q: What's it been like having a studio at Redux?
A: Being a resident artist at Redux has been life changing. I have forged several friendships and have grown my art practice into a small business I am proud of. The new space on King st is incredible, I am thankful and excited every time I walk through the doors. I absolutely love working among so many other creative people, and being part of a supportive community. I feel very fortunate to have found a home here.
Q: How you choose your subjects?
A: My first subjects were floral pieces, and I will always come back to my first love. I am obsessed with vibrant color, organic shapes, and light. Now that I have been pursuing my art career for over three years, I find more and more subjects sparking my interest. I try to pay attention to these moments of inspiration and compile them into a body of work that is cohesive, unique, and interesting. Lately, perspective and pattern has been peeking my interest, so I have been finding ways to introduce these elements into my work. I imagine my subjects will change several times throughout my life, but I know that color and light will always be a major focus.
Q: You do commissions - what kinds of things are you painting?
A: I love completing commissions! Its a wonderful way to get to know my clients, and I love knowing the owners of my pieces. I do house/business portraits, custom floral pieces, and pet portraits. Pet portraits are probably my favorite commissions; I am OBSESSED with animals and really love capturing their sweet personalities on canvas. With the holidays around the corner, I have had several sweet pups on my easel, but am open to painting any fur baby.
Q: Tell us about a typical day.
A: My typical day is about to change! yay! For the past few years I have been juggling multiple jobs alongside my art business, but starting in January I will be a full-time creative. I will begin teaching art courses at Redux in addition to painting the days away in my studio. What these means is: there wont be a "typical" day. This is exciting, as well as a little scary, but I am so ready for this change. I have been working towards this goal for a long time, it almost doesn't feel real. But I'm sure reality will set in when I meet my future students.
We're really proud of Julia for taking the leap into life as a full-time creative and we're very excited for the next chapter of her career. Stop by Art Mecca this weekend and see Julia's latest works, then come chat with her at the show November 3rd from 6:30 to 8:30.
Q: How did you figure out you wanted to make wire sculptures?
Wire has always been a medium that makes sense to me. I thinks it’s an extension of line drawing, so finding the simplest lines to develop the character of animals is a fun challenge. It’s also a very meditative medium for me, usually I liken it to hardcore knitting.
Q: When did you make your first one?
The very first animal I ever made was a tiny sheep. About 4 years ago I was playing with some wire I had and made this little sheep head that looked like it would be mounted. My husband saw it and loved it, so he made a little shield out of a cedar shingle. We mounted it to the shingle with tiny screws and wire taxidermy was born. It’s the only animal that will never get a name and never be sold.
Q: You're a graphic designer by trade, right? What made you switch careers? Do you do some of both?
Yes, my background is in graphic design, and it has been an indispensable skill with owning a business. Now I have the luxury of doing a little bit of everything. When I am not making wire taxidermy, I paint signs, do lettering and chalkboards, murals, custom illustrations, and still do a little freelance work. I LOVE doing all the things. People always seem to say that a business needs to specialize to be successful, but frankly keeping my hands dirty and a steady stream of new creative challenges makes me happy and excited to work each day.
Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your animals - how do you decide what animal to do next?
Ha, I’m an animal geek that doesn’t have a scientific brain. Nature is just so incredibly diverse and interesting, how can it not be inspiring? I was that kid who got my mom to buy nature documentaries on VHS and watch them till I knew it forward and backward.
Picking animals has evolved a little over the past few years with my ability to sculpt them. Everything used to be kind of straight forward neck mount animals (deer and antelope, etc.) which I still do, they have just become more elegant. Lately I have really been enjoying sea creatures and birds. Both have really lovely sweeping lines that insinuate movement and life. I have also been playing with mounts quite a bit more, adding painted backgrounds and having animals break out of boxes into negative space.
Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to work with Charleston Woodworks and Sawdust Wood Co. to use reclaimed wood, so it gives me a really beautiful spectrum of mounts and sometimes a piece of wood will dictate the animals. An example might be a piece of cypress has a curly texture and beautiful knots that look like water would be the perfect place for a wading bird.
Q: You're a native of Charleston - what was it like growing up here?
I love Charleston, and I was lucky enough to grow up at a time where it still had some of it’s small town charm and now have been able to watch it grow into a thriving city with diverse arts and food and entertainment. I grew up mostly in Summerville and Mount Pleasant when kids on a bike could have the run of town until sundown. Want to go surfing? Bike to the beach. Go to a friends house? Ride a few miles down Rifle Range. Now it sounds like some late 80’s nostalgia flick, but it was great to grow up here.
Also, I went to Academic Magnet which was an amazing experience, being a small and difficult school really bonded the students. There are still teachers and mentors I stay in touch with and friends that will be with me for life
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
It varies so much. They all start with coffee and puppy snuggles. Usually I try to have a list made the previous night of priority projects and goals for the next day and will work from that for the day. Somedays it will be creating elevations for sign mockups and others will be sketching t-shirt lettering and show applications. When there are art shows or commissions work going out it’s full on production mode twisting a ton of animals, prepping mounts, then getting the mounted while binging on podcasts (SSDGM!). There’s also a lot of traveling for art festivals and shows which always keeps things interesting.
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Do yourself a favor and follow Alison on Instagram @alisonbrynnross . Also, if we didn't love you we wouldn't say this...but...Alison's work is well priced and it's going to fly out of the gallery for holiday gifts. Come get first pick RIGHT NOW before the rest of the world gets the spirit. You're welcome. And we do love you - come say hey.
We're pleased to introduce you to Tim Sheaffer, our newest artist at Art Mecca of Charleston. Tim paints amazing tableaus of water and reflections. We sat down with him this week to ask a few questions about his life and his work:
Q: Can you explain how you came to paint reflections and light the way you do?
A: My painting curiosity tends to take me through the challenges of Impressionism with a modern perspective. I have always been fascinated by the challenge of painting reflective surfaces; glass and water particularly. My first series in this motif was inspired by the Snoqualmie River near Seattle as I was into landscape and still-life studies at the time. I started playing around with painting glass jars and marbles a few years ago while living in Charlotte, NC.
Q: What is your art background?
A: I attended Western Michigan University and have taken a few courses at community colleges and art academies.
Q: Where do you live and what's your connection to Charleston?
A: I currently live in Charlotte, NC, and visit the Charleston area as frequently as I can. We stay in Folly Beach, but love to explore the sights, food, and breweries throughout Charleston.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: Luckily for me, not many of my days are typical. I paint as often as I can, but am always working on a project or two. Projects vary from landscape design and installation, custom wood and metal work to general handyman tasks. I am currently looking for the opportunity to paint on a large scale. I’d love to create a mural sized water study or marbles study.
Tim's work was selected for the Artfield’s juried show in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He was also chosen by the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte as a billboard participant of the Artpops program as well as their Community Supported Arts Program. In 2013 and 2014, he was included in Charlotte Business Journal’s annual Book of Lists.
Welcome to Art Mecca, Tim!