The traveling artist
She has only been here since April, but already Judy Turner has immersed herself in the Valencia County art community.
An active member of the Belen Art League, Turner has ribbon-winning work in the league’s fall show, and is teaching a class on “credit card” painting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29.
Participants will be using credit cards to actually apply paint to a piece of art, Turner said.
Always an artist, Turner has worked in oil paints, pencil, pastels, water colors, even ink sketching on glass and wire sculpture.
Her wire sculptures are a bit different than most, usually taking the shape of large turtles and then covered in succulents to make living garden art.
“I’m doing a bunch this spring for a local nursery,” Turner said. “I’m really excited.”
As a child, Turner started in oils, taking a classes when she was 13 from Dutch-born artist Tony van Hasselt. One of the first workshop pioneers, van Hasselt is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society.
“He really made an impression on me. He showed me how to use a pallet knife,” she said. “That showed me there was so much to painting than just painting.”
Her creativity isn’t confined to painting. Turner plays the violin and viola, an instrument held and played like a violin, but larger and lower in tone.
Her musical talents allowed the northern California native to travel with the Bay Area Honor Orchestra.
But the color of art drew her back in, and she enrolled in college, where she began studying commercial art.
When she began, the commercial art world was making the transition to computer-aided drawing.
“You were still able to be an artist, but with the computer, it didn’t seem as creative to me,” Turner said.
Married with children, Turner’s husband’s job as an engineer took the family to various places around the country.
When he was transferred to a site on the Arizona/New Mexico border, 23 miles from Gallup, Turner decided to continue with her education.
Luckily, there was a University of New Mexico branch in town, so she began taking classes again.
Then his job took them to Albuquerque, and by then she had enough credits to get a degree. In 1991, Turner received a bachelor’s degree in human services. Degree in hand, she entered the field.
“Again, I was a bit disillusioned,” she said. “There was a lot of bureaucracy. Your hands were tied with so much red tape.”
Turner found a creative outlet by taking a position with the Girl Scouts of America Chaparral Council.
“I could be so creative with that job. I helped develop programs for the kids, which was great,” she said.
One time, to bring the experience of the beach to landlocked New Mexico, Turner brought in literally tons of sand, and made starfish by gluing sand to one side of a cardboard star and Cheerios to the other.
From there, her husband’s job took them to Seattle, where he worked for The Boeing Company.
Turner worked as a human resources manager for a large company, but was “always seeking more.”
Boeing went through layoffs, and the couple ended up back in the Bay Area, where her husband took a job teaching, eventually becoming a school administrator.
Then, in 2000, with her children grown, Turner decided to start a business of her own. She began painting murals, and 12 years later, hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve done some big, commercial contracts, but mostly private homes,” she said.
From Winnie the Pooh in nurseries to giving entry ways a bit of pop with some old-world stone charm, Turner has created everything from windows into another world to subtle highlights and details.
She works to keep her prices low — $45 an hour — because “I can do a lot in three hours. And the good thing, it’s just paint. If you don’t like it in a couple of years, just paint over it.”
From Portland, Wash., to Atlanta, Turner says this is work and art she can do anywhere she goes, a “job I can pick up and take with me.”
Turner said started making art on found objects when she found 230 windows from the Sand Point Naval Base in a patch of blackberry brambles when her husband lived in California the last go around.
“They had all these layers of paint, green and gray, and I just fell in love with them,” she said. “I did four shows a year out there, and I sold them all.”
While she still does murals, Turner has started working on smaller, portable pieces that can be put in a show easier than a wall.
“It’s a challenge now to paint on smaller surfaces,” she said. “That’s why I like the rocks — they are a confined space.”
Of her upcoming class at the Belen Art League, Taylor says she is looking forward to giving back to the community.
“I’ve been lucky to have traveled all over the (United States),” she said. “I like to do classes, for kids and adults, and give back.”
The project begins with the artists drawing a series of lines on paper with a wax crayon, followed by a watercolor wash over the tree skeletons they’ve created. They then dip the edge of the card into paint and “flick” it along the wax lines to create bark.
“I like things like the credit card painting,” Turner said. “It’s not a traditional brush, and I’ve never been interested in being an ‘artist. It’s something anyone can do and you should see some of the pieces — they are wonderful. I really loved working with and meeting different people.”
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