December 1, 2003
A portrait hangs in Julie Blackstone’s office. She calls it “Mentor.” It’s of her first college art professor, a man named Gene Dougherty, who provided Julie’s first “real” artistic training. Sculptures share space with numerous books that line the shelves. Numerous paintings are stacked against the walls.
Her passion for art began early. Even as a preschooler, people told her that she should pursue art. This did not naturally spread to teaching art, not until much later. “There were those who kept telling me that I should teach art, but I thought that would leave me no chance to do my own work.”
However, in college Julie began to mold her “rawness.” Having had no “real” training, it provided an eye-opening experience. Over time Julie gravitated to teaching, receiving some sound advice from family members and professors. After completing an education degree, she taught at several “small and rural” high schools as well as a community college. In the 1980s, Julie began teaching at OBU. For the last seven years, she has served as a full-time instructor of art.
Julie teaches a variety of different subjects at OBU. “I always enjoy being in whatever class I am in at the time,” she says. By not focusing on one subject for eight hours every day, Julie says that she avoids “burnout.” Color theory, painting, (oil and water color), ceramics, stained glass, and fibers (or weaving) are several class concentrations that fill the week.
Julie says the inspiration for her own art comes from the students. “Life inspires you,” says Julie. “Looking at their art, I can begin to see things from their perspective. This leads to new perspectives in my own pieces.”
When Julie isn’t teaching, she is at home rearing her two children, Rachael, 19; and Evan, 16. Outside of family life, Julie weaves, paints, does pottery, and creates stunning stained-glass art. Some of Julie’s pieces are available for sale at Starry Starry Arts, a local specialty shop.
When she isn’t working on visual art, Julie can be found hard at work writing novels. Unbeknownst
to some, she is currently at work on her 11th novel, which is yet to be titled. Her writing is driven not only by her love of art but also her appreciation of history, especially medieval Europe and Civil War America. Her first five novels had a Civil War setting, but they have yet to be published. “I’m just too chicken to go out there and get my work published,” Julie says with a laugh. Her other work she categorizes as mystery or medieval fantasy.
Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living. It is a favorite quote of Julie Blackstone, and an intentional activity in her life as teacher, artist, author and mother.