The enchanting, inspirational works of Judy Stirling might not be on display at art galleries or found for sale at auctions, but to Stirling and her family, her one-of-a-kind creations are
There’s little doubt Judy Stirling is a creative person at heart. From crafting antique-lace accents for her adorable granddaughter’s clothing to turning Italy beach-finds into art, Stirling says there’s beauty to be found if only one’s eyes are open.
“I see something and I think, ‘wow! That’s so beautiful!’ It could be a painting, or a hand-made rug, or a piece of beach glass shaped like a heart. I just think there’s so much beauty to behold in this world of ours,” she opens enthusiastically.
Stirling took up a paint brush herself about ten years ago, admitting her eldest, Jesse, was the inspiration – or the instigator.
“I’ve got to give Jesse full credit, or full blame. He asked me to paint a mermaid and that’s where it started. Suddenly this giant mermaid appeared in my garage and I had to paint it for a charity event he was hosting,” she says, remembering the occasion with her trademark sense of joy and humour.
The rest, she adds, was history.
Inspired by home
“I just loved it. I had so much fun doing it. And then I decided I was going to try to paint a giant painting and it came out so good. And that is where it took off.”
Stirling is a fan of all things beautiful, including other artists and their work. Newfoundland artists, or those inspired by this place we call home, particularly tickle her fancy, she shares.
‘‘Jean Claude Roy is so talented. I’ve always admired his work. And Clifford George! I saw his work online and I was really attracted to it because I feel like we’re kind of simpatico with our art. He’s very free. It’s really colorful. He paints Newfoundland landscapes. And he’s just magical, I really felt drawn to him and I just love his work,” she gushes.
In fact, on the day we visit, George is visiting the Stirling home, helping her advance her skills.
“It’s the first time I ever met him and he came over so we could play together. He’s going to show me how to use a pallet ‘the right way.’ I’m a self-taught artist. I just do it. I just paint. But I’d like to have some advice on things I could be doing better,” she says.
Self-taught. God-given talent; call it what you’d like. Stirling’s art has a magic about it, and many of her pieces sparkle with the same light that seems to ooze from her spirited soul.
Where does she feel her inspiration come from? ‘Love,’ she answers simply.
“I just get inspired to paint a picture. It kind of paints itself. I asked myself; what am I’m going to paint? It could be the Blessed Virgin Mary ascending into heaven, or a fairy, or a beautiful scene from Newfoundland that’s captured my heart. It really feels magical to me, like it just happens.”
‘Fast & furious’
When asked to describe her style, she smiles. “Fast and furious maybe?” she laughs. “I paint very fast and it just comes out. I’ve always admired the people who can create a painting and make it look so real. I see these paintings and I go, ‘wow!’ All I can say is the painting almost creates itself when I get a brush in my hand.”
Don’t go looking for an original Stirling painting; hers are not for sale. Or at least not yet.
“I traded one piece for a set of Italian sheets once, but no. I love every piece so much I can’t get rid of anything.’’
More laughter. We ask who the biggest fan of her work is. She smiles.
“My family. Scott. The kids. They love everything I do, and I love that. It inspires me to keep going.’’ Everyone in her circle, she shares, has a favourite creation of hers, including her beloved father-in-law, the late Geoff Stirling.
“I’ve been very blessed in my life. When you have love and support, you are free to be yourself, and I find I get to express that to the world through my art.”
For more on Judy Stirling and her art, follow her on Instagram at ocjudymom