In spite of Missouri River flooding, the Hermann Arts Council stiffened its resolve to have another First Friday arts event come [summer’s] hell or high water. The crowds may have been lighter than usual, but the event went off without a hitch. The Council continues to organize quality artists to serve as an added attraction to 23 downtown retail businesses. One of those artists is Julie Wiegand, who was showing some paintings and discussing her work at The Harvest Table.
Julie has always drawn and painted since she was a child, growing up in Chesterfield, west of St. Louis, when it was barely a town. Her parents owned and operated the Smokehouse Market, but creativity ran in the family. She calls it a rural upbringing with nothing around but crop fields and pastures, where cattle grazed lazily under the trees on a hot summer day.
“I was soaking it in from the beginning,” she says. “I love space, grand vistas and color.”
It’s no surprise that anyone viewing Julie’s art sees those influences, as she pushes the ether and green-foliaged fiber with yellows, greens, distant blues and shaded purples, brown gradations in horizontal plane upon horizontal plane. Big skies, too. Skies full of billowy clouds or sunwashed pale infinity so thin, you can barely smell the hot noon air.
“Patterns of clouds in skies have intrigued me forever,” she says.
She loves to portray farm animals and wildlife as well, but mostly domesticated bovines. The cattle in her paintings are usually looking at the viewer, as though it’s a nonchalant standoff of indifference. And still they watch you.
Flowers are another item of interest for Julie, whether it is vibrant kitchen garden zinnias, irises and dayflowers or a wash of summer wildflowers, muted islands in a sea of pasture grass. Cattle might be used as background props in the painting.
“There really isn’t anything in nature that dominates one over the other—it’s all about the light and the color—the spaciousness and intimacy,” she explains.
Her style is not easy to pin down. She’s not a realist, but you don’t have to guess what it is she’s painting. From Charolais cows to purple milkweed blossoms, it’s obvious light is important to her, judging from the work she puts into her oil paint pallet mixing. As a matter of fact, she calls herself either a “colorist” or an “impressionist, or both.”
One of her favorite artists is the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. He painted sunny beach scenes, landscapes and portraits in the late 19th Century. The styles are similar in some respects, such as the way color is used and like most impressionists, an accurate depiction of light, which determines the palette colors.
“I use a limited palette,” she says. This weekend I used a phthalo blue, an ultramarine blue, quinacridone magenta, quinacridone red, a transparent orange, a lemon yellow and white.
Julie says she does a lot of color mixing for gradations of color and she cleans her palette often.
“I start out real strong, working with pure color at the beginning,” she says. “But 15 minutes into a painting, I’ve already got a pile of what a lot of artists call ‘mud.’”
She says if she works with four pure colors on a painting, her “mud” will be harmonious with the painting, because the mixture, or parts of what has been mixed on the palette will be a mud that works as a gradation of color. She prefers “her own mud,” as to working with another brown or gray that may be a separate pure color, such as a burnt umber.
Julie has built a base of art patrons over the years that has allowed her to paint full-time. She spreads the work load out with forays into her piano music, yoga and nature walks.
“I’m grateful for the privilege of getting up in the morning and being self-employed to do what I do,” she says.
The pirate hunter
Julie Wiegand is a well-established regional artist. Another artist that creates for all the right reasons (because he has to) is Sloane Kane. He has also been drawing from a young age and he is just getting started. He was showing some works at the Hogs Head Lounge, but his career path is different. He’s in the Navy and just about to be deployed (Permanent Change of Station orders) on a Littoral Combat Ship, a boat that emphasizes speed. He will be protecting shipping lanes from modern-day pirates—and he’ll be drawing when he isn’t involved in that Naval exercise, supporting global commerce. His art depicts dreamscapes that involve water—as much water as can be viewed before the limitation of canvas comes into play. There may be several scenes on one canvas, delineated by abstract white lines.
“I’ve always loved the water,” says Sloane. One photo looks like what a diver might see when skimming the ocean floor. He says he’s trying to capture the view within storms, so the interpretation is left up to the viewer. He likes the freedom he feels when he’s creating with his brushes and acrylic colors, but he also uses pencils and Sharpies for sketching and pastels.
“I definitely love nature and being outside and the ocean is my peaceful zone,” says Sloane.
“I’ll definitely be drawing [during the stint with the Navy]—it’s a good release of energy.”