We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Julie Gilbert Pollard. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Julie Gilbert below.
Julie Gilbert, appreciate you joining us today. How has Covid changed your business model?
Covid changed the world and I’m no exception. I’ve used technology for a while of course. My first book for North Light Publications was at the beginning of that company requiring its authors to use digital images rather than film. This required new photo equipment and a learning curve which turned out to be part of my tech education, though the words “tech education” imply a much higher level of digital competence than I possess! In many ways it seems that our growing dependence on technology has been preparing us all along for this time. If I hadn’t been becoming more and more technically able, I would have been “dead in the water” when the pandemic arrived. When the venues I teach for closed their doors, I had not ever even heard of Zoom. Zoom proved to be a way – albeit glitchy –for so many to keep going in business and life. Again, new equipment was required, a different studio setup and of course that dreaded “learning curve”! While I lost students here and there who either couldn’t or weren’t willing to adjust to a virtual classroom, my business of conducting painting classes has changed, but not declined. In fact, many of my participants tell me they are getting more from the virtual classes since their view of my demonstrations is better on their computer since they’re not looking over the heads of the other people in the room. Class materials are sent to the members by email and during the class, I use a dual camera set-up that allows the participants to see my demos at their computer’s full-screen size.
I cannot make a positive statement about the pandemic – that would be immensely insensitive to those who have lost health, loved ones, friends, jobs, businesses and for so many, their lives. I have simply tried to keep up with life and work as well as possible and count myself so lucky not to have personally suffered from it.
Using and learning more “how-to” about the technology I use for work has helped me to be more creative and better at conducting my classes. It has given me a narrower focus. The time and energy spent in that direction, however, has limited my resources for doing my “own work”. Fortunately for me, in art I have two passions – to paint and to share my favorite thing with others. People who study painting have great passion for it. That passion can turn into painful disappointment when one hasn’t learned the skills to be able to turn the raw materials of paint, paper and canvas into the image they see in their mind’s eye. When I’m able to facilitate the joy that comes from learning those skills that they then can take to another level, it’s pretty great!
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
Phoenix artist, Julie Gilbert Pollard, paints in oil and watercolor in a fluid, painterly manner. Her painting style, while representational, is colored with her own personal concept of reality. “The eye may see as a camera ‘sees’, but the mind’s eye sees an altered, imagined image, what it wants and hopes to see. It’s that illusive image, uniquely mine, along with a heightened sense of ‘realness’, that I try to express in my paintings. This amazing world of ours is often a mysterious, sometimes frightening, place, but filled with scenes and subjects that excite my eye and imagination! The magical allure of the natural world, and my reverence for it, compel me to attempt to capture its essence on canvas or paper.”
Pollard is the author of three North Light Books: Discover Oil Painting (2016), Watercolor Unleashed (2013) and Brilliant Color (oil & acrylic, 2009), plus nine videos for ArtistsNetwork.com (three Watercolor Unleashed, four Oil Painting Unleashed and two Acrylic Unleashed). Additional publications include various articles and book inclusions including most recently Splash 23 (June 2022), The Art of Watercolour Magazine, Issue 36 (2019), Watercolor Artist Magazine (2021 & 2018 ), Splash 18 (2017) and Acrylic Works 3 (2016).
She has given instruction in watercolor and oil since 1985 in numerous venues such as Art Travel Italy in Tuscany, La Romita School of Art in Umbria, Italy; Cheap Joe’s Art Workshops in North Carolina; Saanich Peninsula Arts and Crafts Society in Sidney, B.C., Canada and Vale do Lobo in Portugal. Current and upcoming venues include online and in-person with, among others, Watercolor Live 2022, Scottsdale Artists’ School, Sedona Art Center School of Art and French Escapade Painting Workshops in Spain.
A frequent award winner, Pollard’s oils and watercolors have hung in numerous juried and gallery exhibits. Most notable awards: Best Impressionistic Painting in Best of America, National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, 2012 and Best Use of Light & Color in Best of America, National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, 2011.
She is a signature member of National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, Arizona Watercolor Association, San Diego Watercolor Society and Plein Air Painters of Arizona. Her work is included in many private and corporate collections and is represented in Arizona by Esprit Decor Gallery in Phoenix, Raku Gallery in Jerome and Sedona Arts Center Gallery in Sedona.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
I must apologize for having a boring answer to this question. There are answers of course, but I know no “secret”! 1. Love what you do. Maintain your passion for the practice of painting and sharing. If you aren’t passionate and having fun yourself, you can’t expect a prospective buyer or student to have interest in what you have to offer.
2. Quality control. To the best of your ability do what it takes, put in the time, pay your dues – do what it takes to become as good as you can be at what you are putting out into the market.
3. Persistence and stubbornness – when you fall down, get back up and keep working.
4. Continue to learn about your trade. The learning and growth are never-ending.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
I had heard of this happening and then it actually did happen to me. I entered a juried art show with a painting I thought was pretty good – it was rejected. Because I still felt the painting had merit, I entered it in another juried exhibit and it won Best of Show.
This story is a microcosm of my career, as a whole! It is unrealistic to be too deflated when rejected, and equally unrealistic to be too inflated when there is a success. Stay the course – there will be ups and downs along the way!