Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Shunick Brown.
Julie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started drawing and painting when I was five or six. Originally from Nevada, I mostly grew up in Northern Virginia where I studied at the Corcoran School of Art and spent my free time copying old masters in the art museums in Washington. I continued studying painting and drawing and graduated with honors from Arizona State University with a BFA in Interior Design. After practicing for a short while, I realized this wasn’t my calling. I did a few other things like a travel agent for American Express and ended up at Procter and Gamble. It was so much fun I could hardly believe they actually paid me too! I stayed and sold about everything they make but primarily drugs (RX). I did leave for an extended period to raise my family – my proudest accomplishment – but always went back – P&G actually hired me three times. I hated to leave but missed painting and decided to return to that full time in 2012. I was fortunate to get a studio at the historic Continental Gin Building in Deep Ellum after a relatively short wait and remained there until we had to move last year so that the building can be restored.
My painting continues to evolve. In the first 20 years, it was primarily representational – still life, landscape, figure, etc., in oil or watercolor. Now, it’s almost exclusively abstract and I’m still searching for my path – probably always will be!
My work suggests places, memories, and emotions – the reality not seen. Now, my paintings are totally intuitive – no planning or preliminary sketches – a huge turn in direction. Life challenges and inspires. I believe that everything in my past influences me so travel, life experiences, friends and family all come together, intermingle with the present, and are reflected in my painting. Memory refines and perfects. My work is multi-layered like life and meant to be ambiguous and interpreted by the viewer. I’m always really interested in learning what each individual thinks or feels when viewing my work. There’s no correct answer. Everyone sees something different. Color fascinates me and I think individuals see different hues when looking at the same pigment.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life happens. I’ve lost three people very close to me in the past few years – my son, brother, and husband. They were all totally unexpected, very quick, and no one suffered so thankful for that but big adjustments that made it hard to focus at times. Forced me to take care of things and interrupted my painting drastically for a while.
Everything’s good now; I realize what’s really important in life more than ever, and I still have my daughter and other son. Couldn’t have better, more supportive kids! Not to mention I have the very best friends anyone could hope for!!
Starting back painting full time after so long was an adjustment too. Everything had changed drastically – even paint! But I find change stimulating and really enjoy it so it’s going well. Just have a lot to learn! And doing my website and navigating social media continues to be quite a challenge. I’m learning. Thank goodness, everyone has been so helpful!
I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love every day. It seems like my whole life has been that way and keeps getting better. Really fortunate to have ended up in Dallas and I’ll never move anywhere else. Seems funny now because I wasn’t thrilled to be here in 1979. I was determined to move to Texas when I was four years old and more than once made my poor dad wait with me all night at the bus station in downtown Phoenix but that bus never came. Happy, I finally got here!
Please tell us more about your artwork, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
My new studio is located at 4855 Vicksburg at the top of the Design District. There are six other artists and a photographer at our address so we have a friendly, supportive little community. It’s a really fun place to work!
I paint! Usually medium to large size abstracts on canvas or panel. My work is all original; I make no copies. Art is therapeutic – both for the artist and the viewer, perhaps more so than generally recognized. My hope is that my paintings can lift your spirits like they have mine.
My neighbors and studio mates at 4855 Vicksburg:
Deborah Hartigan Viestenz
Come see us! We have Open Studios periodically and love visitors by appointment. Send me your email so we can be sure to invite you!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Dallas is a great place! There’s so much interest in the arts and the environment is supportive. People are friendly and it’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere. Starting out is difficult but this is probably the best place to try. People share what they know and help each other.
I was fortunate to land at the Continental Gin Building when I came back to painting. It had been such a long time and I felt apprehensive and was not going to participate in the first open studios. Everyone encouraged me to be open – told me it’d be fun and that it hurt everyone else when doors were closed so I worked up my nerve and got ready. It was great – I sold 17 paintings that weekend and felt like I’d made the right decision. Things fell into place after that.
My paintings are in private collections throughout the U.S. and Canada. See them at my studio by appointment or at Frisco Fine Art, Frisco, TX, or online at McCall Fine Art, Santa Fe, N.M.
- Address: 4855 Vicksburg Street
Dallas, TX 75207
- Website: www.julieshunickbrown.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @julieshunickbrown
- Facebook: f Julie Brown (Shunick)
Brenda Bianar Photography