07 September 2006

Featured Artist - Julie Zickefoose

For the second in my featured artist series, I sent off an email to Julie Zickefoose to test the waters and see if she'd be willing to appear on my blog and answer a few questions about her craft. The idea to formalize the featured artist section - just a bit had been brewing so I set out to put together a quick series of interview questions to send off. I wanted this 'interview' to be brief and informative, about the mechanics of bird painting, but also about inspiration. I also wanted to keep it on the light side, so that interviewee's didn't feel overwhelmed by my request. Julie was a great and enthusiastic participant. I really appreciate her taking the time out of her day to share a few thoughts with me about her painting. Here are my questions and Julie's response.

Who are some of your strongest influences in bird painting?
"Louis Fuertes is the single strongest influence of my youth (age 8 up). In later years, Larry McQueen, Robert Verity Clem, and Don Eckelberry loomed large. These days, I look to Lars Jonsson for inspiration. My friendship with Barry Van Dusen, Cindy House, James Coe, Mike DiGiorgio, Brenda Carter, David Quinn, John Baumlin and Larry Barth is a tremendous source of inspiration, support and enthusiasm."

What is your favorite brush size, the brush you pick up most frequently while painting and have to replace most frequently?... And a favorite paper or two?
"My favorite brush is Daniel Smith's synthetic/sable watercolor round, #6. It's my workhorse. I also use #8's and #1's. The days of double zero brushes are long gone. Lots more paint being used now. I like Winsor-Newton cold press watercolor paper, and Fabriano hot press for pencil drawings. I liked Lanaquarelle's cold press, but ran into sizing issues and inconsistent surface, so had to abandon it."

Is there a bird painting tip, one that you find indispensable, or at least extremely useful that you will share?
"Work from life. Always go back to the living bird for poses and anatomy. Unless you're painting an ivory-billed woodpecker. Then you have to do a lot of supposing, which can be really fun, if a bit dangerous. I was glad to see Mike's lovely IBWO on your blog. He's a beautiful painter."

Tell me a bit about the inspiration you follow when working on particular pieces. I have featured your migrating Black-billed Cuckoos in the blog, and talked about the story it tells. Could you pick a piece that has remained close to your heart, both during the creative process and beyond and share a bit of its story, (and include a jpeg).
"One that might suffice is the ivory-billed woodpecker painting done for the cover of the Auk. It's in the blog archives, with step-by-step commentary."
This piece is chronicled beautifully in Julie's blog. Take a look here at Julies Blog to view the evolution of this painting. Scroll to the bottom of the February archive to find the beginning of the IBWO's genesis and work your way to the top.

Also, Julie has a beautiful new book coming out soon called Letters from Eden. Take a look at other examples of her paintings and writing and hear about the new book at her website. You can even order an inscribed copy from here.

This great illustration of Pileated Woodpecker is, I think another representation of her great talent as a painter of birds.

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