by Judith Walden

Despite being a working artist and teacher for 20 years, Julie Jeanseau didn’t always see herself as an artistic person. Encouragement from her parents prompted her to take some painting classes at Chemeketa and through them she found her “artistic self.”  Jeanseau is passionate about art, describing it as “a fundamental language our brains need to communicate in.” She is especially committed to helping children develop this form of expression, which is one of the reasons she enjoys teaching.

Jeanseau states that she primarily considers herself to be a painter. “Painting,” she says, “takes discipline and time to develop the skill set to express  your artistic voice.”  For a period she had to give up doing some of the other art forms she loves to concentrate on building those skills. Now she feels that she is at a place where she can again add work in some of the other media she enjoys including drawing, clay, and fiber collage.

Talking about her art, a recurring theme for Jeanseau is spirituality.  Her favorite subjects, nature and landscapes, are places where she finds spirituality, connection, and stillness. She hopes that viewers will be able to find some of that connection through her work. She strives to make her work a place that viewers can “walk into nature, and find their place of stillness, connection and contentment.”

Stillness is an interesting thing to associate with Jeanseau, because she is a busy woman. Co-owner of The Abbey Art Studio, teacher, and mother of three, a logical assumption would be that she would  try to pare down demands on her time, but instead, she is adding to them. Her newest venture, The Abbey Gallery, opened last month at Mission Mill in the Willamette Heritage Center. A small space at just 200 square feet,  the gallery is shared with her father, photographer Ron Wolf.  Jeanseau hopes to “create an installation space to highlight and create an environment for her work so that viewers can understand what it is about.”

Asked how her work and that of her father, Ron Wolf will mix, Jeanseau says that even though they don’t always agree on things, their approach to art has been a place they come together. Their pieces have similarity of composition, and frequently are sourced from the same place, Wolf’s wooded property. Like Jeanseau, much of Wolf’s work focuses on nature, and the quiet places where people can find stillness, connection, and spirituality.

Jeanseau is excited about the new gallery and the vibrant art environment building at the Willamette Heritage Center. She plans to participate in the monthly Art After Dark event, and points out the many things for visitors including a cafe and retail spaces.  Her new venture doesn’t mean that the Abbey Art Studio is being forgotten. New classes are open, and Jeanseau has plans to have more focus on adult classes and possibly adult “art camps” in addition to offering open studio time.

Jeanseau hopes that The Abbey Gallery will provide visitors with a chance to share something she was raised with, the opportunity to stop, find the quiet space and see the beauty around us, instead of rushing through the world. Information and images can be found at juliejeanseau.com.