interview

Juliette McCullough

Juliette McCullough was born and grew up in England where she received her education which culminated in her post graduate study at The Royal Academy of Arts London. She has exhibited extensively in Britain, and the U.S.A., as well as in Italy and Japan. Her work is in corporate and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic. At the end of her graduate studies in London she was singled out by having one of her paintings bought by Francis Bacon!

I am inspired by Juliette's incredible mind and breathtaking art work. I caught up with her at her home studio in North Dallas:

dallas-artist-portrait

How did you get into art?

Making images was always part of my life from my earliest memories. As I grew up my imagery grew with me; it was a way of learning about and understanding the world and myself, so studying it in adulthood was just a natural progression

When did you know that you would pursue art as your career?

Looking back, I thought of it more as the choice of a way of life rather than career. My thinking was all process and not product.  While I made the first decision in my early teenage years, the real choice did not come until I faced absolute total failure of my artistic development later in my undergraduate experience. On an artistic level I had to hit rock bottom, it was only then, through that experience, that I found that the process of discovering and creating through making imagery was more important to me than any outcome, that it was a necessary way of life for me.

How does your Jungian practice inform your art?

 This is a difficult question, because I don’t think that reading and studying Jungian ideas does have a direct link to my art, and yet, my reading about Jungian ideas has been central to my understanding of my processes and the drives behind the need to make images.

  When I paint or draw, especially from memory or imagination, there is an opening up of that less conscious part of myself – a deliberate dropping off of all inner controls and censoring – very much like observing oneself dream while being awake. Working like this, on an intuitive level, I become aware of the energies and instinctual drives which are being channeled through the image, and I believe that it is precisely these energies which connect us all on a less conscious level. As a consequence, that inner, most private experience of manipulating the paint becomes a sort of bridge for me to our much larger human community, even maybe the collective unconscious; it helps me understand our profound connectedness in spite of our superficial experiences of separation.

How do you think the masculine/feminine affect your definition of art?

I hope that any definition I might have of art is always changing and growing. However, my feminine journey through this life is the only stand point I have from which to understand my experiences, but I am fascinated by everything we are, and every duality which creates us.

But, the intrinsic nature of my own feminine standpoint was bought home to me recently through a conversation I had with a fellow artist, a very accomplished and gifted guy. We were discussing what makes an art work ‘work’, that is, ‘communicate’ on the deepest level. I said that I thought it works when it becomes a ‘container’ for the ‘projections’ of the viewer, that is, on some level, the viewer experiences something of their own reality through the image. He said that he believed on the contrary, that the art work ‘acted’ on the viewer to ‘instigate’ or ‘initiate’ new awareness ( I am paraphrasing his words here.) After our discussion I realized that we were clearly saying something similar, but it was coming out of our different masculine and feminine experience. My ‘container’ would possibly be considered a more feminine symbol, whereas the idea of ‘initiate’ or ‘instigate’ is active and more masculine. Vivre la difference!

You have lived and practiced on “both sides of the Atlantic” - do you feel this is reflected in your art?

I think that the difficulties and pressures of changing countries and cultures, having to re-shape ones-self to adapt to changing situations causes one to focus more on the big things in life, and this probably has an effect. I also noticed that my whole color range intuitively changes according to the light where ever I’m living, it certainly changed when moving from the UK to Texas. I become my environment as I move through it, it has to leave a lasting effect.

You are also a very accomplished and recognized art teacher. How do you think your teaching and art practice influence each other?

I am on the same journey as any of my students, as individuals we are each somewhere on that train track through our own artistic development, no matter where that is. My journey isn’t an easy one, so I take pleasure in offering my own experience to help others to move forward where it can be helpful. Working with others is always a reciprocal experience. Like many art teachers I also came to the realization that we always teach that which we most need to learn ourselves! Outer and inner worlds are always connecting and reverberating within each other. For me, the communication of teaching is the work in the outer world, and wrestling with my own personal imagery, working with the inner world. I am only interested in painting people and the human condition, so all my interactions are food to me; to be able to work with other people and share something of the development of their unique ideas and creativity is an added gift.

 How do you keep yourself motivated and energized to create?

The drive is always there to a lesser or greater extent. Life itself is the motivation, everything that presents itself is grist to the mill. Everything that generates energy for me, whether positive or negative. I do it because I need to do it for myself, not for any commercial reason. As long as I am breathing, I expect that there will still be the burning need to express what can’t be said in words.

What do you look forward to?

Continuing to ‘dance the dance!’ I hope to dance literally and figuratively through the next stage of my creative adventure, in spite of, and because of, everything that will present itself!


You can view Juliette's work and contact her through her site:

www.juliettemccullough.com