Julie Hughes Shabkie – featured artist at Coldwell Banker Caine’s Main St. Real Estate Gallery

In an effort to celebrate the talent of the Upstate, Coldwell Banker Caine hosts quarterly the work of a local artist for the community to admire at the Main Street Real Estate Gallery in Greenville. Do not miss this quarter’s featured artist, impressionist painter Julie Hughes Shakbie on Thursday, May 2!

Here’s a little bit about Julie, her work and her love of Greenville.

Photo Credit: Greenville Journal, May 2012

Give a little background on your education and your career. From my earliest memories, I’ve always loved to draw and paint.  Early book reports at St. Mary’s School were accompanied with an illustration of the subject or author. Realizing my love of art, I studied after school at the Greenville County Art Museum and with portraitist Bob Bruns. In college at USC, I majored in Journalism, the Advertising and Public Relations sequence in order to pursue studies in design paired with business.  My artistic studies post college have been very diverse–everything from painting  in Taos with Kevin Macpherson,  classical training with David Leffel and Greg Kreutz, to portrait studies with Daniel Greene and Nelson Shanks. Locally, Julia Peters, the Museum School and other artists such as Mark Mulfinger, Dabney Mahanes and Glen Miller have been wonderful teachers along the path.

Why Impressionism? Do you have a favorite Impressionist artist/any artist/work of art? I consider my work to be somewhat impressionistic in my focus on movement but expressionistic as well.   I lean toward bold strokes and while I’m not often expressing my vision of the world or political views, I am expressing my vision of the subject matter, be it the forest or the cyclist as in this show.  My favorite artists–there are so many!  I love the pastel figurative work of Degas and the stunning landscapes of Diebenkorn just to name two.

Was art a big part of your life as a child? Yes, as I mentioned my earliest studies began as a child.   My mom loves to tell howSister Carmelita in second grade told her I was an artist.  The thought of this always makes me smile.

When working on a painting, what’s the hardest aspect (at any point from start to finish)? By far, the hardest aspect is pushing through when you love what’s happening on the canvas but know that the painting is not finished.  There’s that knowing that you can make those next strokes and lose what’s there.  It’s the challenge though that adds to the excitement and fulfillment.

Favorite/ideal subject matter? Definitely the figure and the forest.  Lately my figurative work has been focused on cyclists and horses for their strength and power in movement.  Painting the forest is also transcendent for me.  I currently am developing a series of Blue Ridge Mountain paintings, four of which are in the show.

I see cycling has been a focus of some of your work. What about it draws you? About two years ago, a good friend of mine, Nicole Johnson, a professional cyclist, asked me to be involved in a fundraiser for Global Bike, a wonderful organization that provides bicycles to healthcare workers in third world countries.  The painting I did for this event was my first cycling piece and I fell in love then with painting cyclists, the color, the movement and their form. The works have been embraced in the community as well with pieces purchased this past year by the City and the new GHS Medical School. Also, the Chamber featured one of my cycling images on their 2012 member sticker and related membership materials.

Do you experiment with any other type(s) of art style/medium? Each piece is an experiment in a way.  How to approach the painting: on canvas or board, acrylic and/or oil.  What medium: galkyd or linseed oil for example.  I have explored clay sculpture but prefer painting, which in many ways feels like sculpting to me.

How do you begin a painting? It really depends on a number of factors, whether I paint from life outdoors or in the studio with a model or from images.  I sometimes do some preliminary sketches but usually I paint directly on the surface.  As I work, it’s all about intuition, awareness and connection with my subject matter.

How do you know when a painting is complete? There is a knowing.  I prefer my work to have a quality that allows the viewer to be a part of the process.  There are passages that may appear unfinished to some while complete to others.  My hope is that there’s gratification and enjoyment in seeing the work.

Do you have a go-to place or activity to clear your head? The mountains definitely.   We love to go to Jones Gap and hike along the stream.  Paris Mountain is also just minutes away.

What sorts of other activities do you enjoy? So many.  I love to ride bikes, travel and go on excursions to the mountains.  Film has become another love of mine.  My husband Don and I gather with a group of friends on Sunday evenings to watch vintage black and white movies often outside on a big screen.  Once a month, we catch an afternoon matinee with another couple and discuss the film over dinner.  Spending quality time with friends and family is where I find the most joy in life.  I have been blessed with a circle of loving friends, who have supported me over the years and I value beyond measure.

What do you love most about Greenville? Everything.  Having grown up here, I have seen it change so much and am in awe of how it continues to grow and become more beautiful every day.  I am really grateful for the visionaries who have made this happen.

More of a general curiosity question, but what’s your favorite restaurant in Greenville? There are so many wonderful restaurants in Greenville!  We live in the North Main area, a block from a trolley stop, close to bike paths downtown and the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  We love to bike to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe for lunch.  We shop there for local produce and eggs.  We just started a program where we pick up a weekly supply of fresh vegetables from Parson Produce that’s dropped off there.

My studio is on Pendleton Street in West Greenville and we have the Asada truck there on Fridays, the First Friday gallery crawls and special events.  Gina and Roberto are wonderful and their tacos are amazing!

Anything else you’d like to include, please feel free. I am very grateful to have this opportunity to have my work at Coldwell Banker Caine’s Main Street Gallery.  The location is perfect, the space beautiful and the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with there have been so gracious.  Thank you.