Picking up a pencil or paintbrush and rendering something pretty doesn’t constitute art, says Laurie Justus Pace, until you put something beyond mechanics, part of your soul, into it. This is one of the more intangible truths Pace, a White Rock area native, tries to teach. The painter famous for her color-dripping ponies also is interested in helping artists gain exposure through marketing and contemporary salesmanship. Along with longtime friend Debbie Grayson Lincoln, Pace founded the Artists of Texas, through which she gives motivated and talented artists the tools to succeed. Through Jan. 1, 2013, the work of Pace and another 50-plus Artists of Texas members will be on display at the Dutch Art Gallery in East Dallas.
Have you always loved art?
Yes. I started painting in seventh-grade. My mom would have my paintings framed at the Dutch Art Gallery — we lived right behind the shopping center where it is located — and we would donate them to the PBS auctions. In high school, I was one of the founding members of Lake Highlands High School’s first art club, which, I believe, was called “Arabesque.”
But you detoured before becoming a professional artist, right?
Yes, after high school, you know, you leave and you go do your own thing. I went into modeling, then design and graphic art, spent time as a musician and taught art at White Rock Elementary. Eventually, though, I got teacher burnout. I really wasn’t sure what to do. I called another artist friend and she told me to get my materials out — the paints and canvas — and I thought, now what? She helped me get back on the path to being an artist.
How did you move from sitting in front of a blank canvas to being the notable artist you are today?
I read “The Artist’s Way” and began creating again. I did a couple of tent shows and found those were not for me, then a friend asked me if I had thought of selling work on eBay. I figured I could do that. Pretty soon all I wanted to do was paint and sell. Within two years I was making great money doing this. Galleries — even
those that had turned me down before — now began approaching me. So since about 2005, my work has been in galleries all over the world. My husband, Terry, took early retirement, and he helps with inventory and shipping. I have a studio in our house — we moved to Mount Vernon [on West Lawther] — overlooking the lake, and I keep busy. I love to paint. Last summer I did 100 paintings in 100 days for $100 each. I sold 99 of them!
For those who might not know, what is your style?
My work is my own work, unique in style and exploration. My signature style of painted ponies has been imitated, but it is one I developed through struggling and painting and praying. Through several trials I know I can paint realistically … but my joy is in my palette knife and how I use it on my canvas. One of the toughest and most important things to teach young artists is that it is not important if Mom and Dad like your work. It is about your personal journey. I could render something and paint it, but if it is an imitation or simply an exercise, it lacks soul and it will not sell. You have to find your voice, validate your own work.
Even beautiful art doesn’t sell itself. How are you helping artists through Artists of Texas and similar groups?
After I started selling, I got back in touch with a high school friend, Debbie Grayson Lincoln. We did a show together, which rekindled her love for art and made us better friends. Together we decided to use the experiences we have had to help other artists to understand how to promote their work. We are selective about membership. These are professionals and they must be computer literate — that turns some away. Four years ago we held our first show at the Dutch Art Gallery, and while many of the Artists of Texas are from the White Rock area, many came from all around, stayed in our homes. We were like a family before we even got to know each other.
Tell us about this year’s show.
This is called “Colors of Texas,” and it covers a wide breadth of mediums and styles — abstract, realistic, sculpture … our youngest member, Anton Zhou, is incredible. You really need to come see him. It is a wonderful show; the group deserves the credit.
Answers are edited for brevity.
The Artists of Texas exhibit runs through Jan. 1 at the Dutch Art Gallery, 10233 E. Northwest Highway. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday–Friday, and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 214.348.7350 or visit dutchartusa.com.
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