Julie Higgins is well known for her vibrant expressionist paintings rendered in soft pastel. Her symbols of crescent moons, swirling water, playful ravens, grapes, lilies, figs and voluptuous women are rendered in a dreamlike style uniquely her own. “My work is a constant process of pushing through the mundane of life into the magic, and the imaginary, which connect me to my sense of nature and how I belong or fit in with Earth as a life source.”
Born and raised in Hutchinson, Kansas, she went on to study art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “I was supposed to do something practical, and that was my intention, but by the time I enrolled in school I decided, I’m going for art, much to my parent’s dismay. It was like a magnetic pull. I couldn’t do anything but.” Initially, she focused in hand built ceramic sculpture, but soon switched to a major in Painting and Sculpture, which better suited her direction. “I did other mediums but clay was my first love and main medium. Later, I explored soft pastel for its same sensual, tactile quality.”
After graduation Julie moved to the rural farm community of Skagit Valley, Washington, a beautiful area with a lively art community. She worked in various art-related fields, becoming manager of a gallery and picture framing business. “After seven years I quit and a friend offered to let me house sit his home on the Skagit river for several months. It was a valuable turning point for me. I was able to devote that time to producing a body of work.” Later she worked for a wholesale print company. She was always craving more studio time, searching for a job that could make that happen. “I was hired to help with trade shows and went out on the road as a rep. It honed me in cold call skills that I would not have had otherwise. It was grueling, and not producing much income, but I got my chops about doing that side of the business.”
A chance arose in 1987 for her to visit friends living in Australia. It was an experience with a lasting influence on her life and art. “That was a real turning point for me, seeing the Aboriginal artwork moved me in a very deep way. The whole connection with the planet really resonated with me.”
Soon after, Julie was offered the opportunity for her own studio in Mendocino, “and all I’d have to do is paint.” A year later she made the move. The transition to Mendocino’s isolated stretch of coast was not easy, but she soon embraced the lifestyle and strong art community. “I was producing a lot of artwork and each time my situation changed, it became more daunting moving my studio around,” she says. In 1998 she jumped at the opportunity to purchase a permanent place in Mendocino.
Idyllically set in a grove of redwoods just outside the village, it is a light and airy mix of Southwest and Pacific-northwest architectural styles. Although renovation and homeownership brought its own set of challenges into her life, she is grateful for this space and enjoys hosting friends and visitors here.
Giving back to the community is important to her and she has donated art for Winesong, Art in the Gardens, Cancer Resource Center, and Mendocino Eco Artists to name a few. Julie’s paintings, prints, greeting cards, and a book collaboration released in 2007 featuring forty-eight of her plates, can be seen and purchased at the Mendocino Art Center, The Gallery Mendocino, Mendocino Country Store, and Gallery Bookshop.
She shows year round at “The Girl and the Fig” restaurants in Sonoma County and her art adorns the label on their fig products and annual release of in-house Syrah. Her work is shown seasonally in solo and group exhibitions around the Mendocino area. For a current schedule of exhibits, to book a studio tour or inquire about her art you may visit her website at: artistjuliehiggins.com.