Julie Townsend’s work is hard to miss. Whether you’ve seen her at ArthouseLV or the Boulder City Art Gallery, you know a smile is bound to creep in when approaching her wall. Her pieces are nostalgia-inducing and poetic. They embody the secret, inner worlds of childhood — especially those of us who grew up on ranches or farms. Her series “I dare you not to smile” is a fantastic example of all of the above and, let’s be real, we could all use more cuteness in our lives. Julie was kind enough to take some time to sit down with me and elaborate on her collection.
- What motivated you to name this series “I dare you not to smile”?
I have always considered myself to have a sense of humor and to be actually funny. Now, that might surprise many because I think I come across as serious person. I feel the world we live in has become a pretty negative place and so if with just a little effort on my part I can help brighten someone’s day and bring a smile to their face, I feel as if I have accomplished a great thing. We are told laughter is medicine so this collection may be just what the doctor ordered in someone’s life. If not, I do plenty of smiling myself just drawing these little creations of mine.
- The presence of sunlight is very prominent in your work, from the boldness of your color choices to the sheen that gives three-dimensional depth to your work instead of shadow. Does this directly reflect your memories or are you trying to highlight something specific?
The contrast of light and dark is probably one of the most important elements of a painting. I don’t feel that I do a very good job of this and am always reminding myself to bring emphasis to my light values by surrounding them with the dark. I guess since you have pointed this out, I must be doing something right.
- What is the most satisfying aspect of sharing your art with others?
Besides the obvious joys of talking about something that I absolutely love to do, I have noticed lately that I am being asked more and more by fellow artists about the specifics of my work. This is like a “Wow” experience. In just a little over 5 years that I have been doing this art thing full-time, I’m now the one encouraging new artists on their own journeys.
- How does storytelling play a role in your process?
Often I find that while I am busy sketching in my sketchbook I will be thinking of funny little stories or funny one liners to go along with the drawing. Some of these “little stories” have actually found their way on to paper in the form of poetry. To me it is all part of the creative process. I love writing stories and poems so it is natural for me to combine the two. I just need to get organized enough to see the process through to completion and put together a book.
Thank you, Julie, for giving us some insight into your process! Feel free to visit Julie’s website: http://www.julietownsendstudio.com/, come down to ArthouseLV for a visit: 1229 S Casino Center Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104, and see the exhibit for yourself on March 17th 1-3PM in Boulder City. Remember, no frowning (the flyer has spoken).
–Interview by: Whitney L. Huggins