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Looking across the desert near her home in east Las Cruces, artist Julie Ford Oliver was fascinated by a bird landing on a nearby table and by the subtle differences in the shades of green in trees and plants that lay beyond.
“I concentrate on beauty,” said Oliver, who moved to Las Cruces with her husband in 2000 after more than a decade living in El Paso. “The Southwest has captured my heart.”
A native of Manchester, England, Oliver has lived in the United States for more than 50 years. Her mother was a registered nurse, and her father was in management. She got a scholarship in high school to go to art school, and “never looked back. I’ve never stopped painting,” she said.
A long and successful career as a professional illustrator gave Oliver “a great drawing foundation,” she said.
The success and accolades have continued since she began painting full time. Oliver has been featured in “Who’s Who in American Art,” “Daily Paintwork,” “Artist Magazine” and other national and regional publications. Her work hangs in museums, galleries and private collections across the country and around the world.
Her exhibitions include a one-woman show at the Americana Museum in El Paso and shows at Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, the Women’s Museum in Dallas and the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C.
In Las Cruces, Oliver has a studio in her home and another in downtown Las Cruces, near M Phillips Fine Arts Gallery, 221 N. Main St., where her work is regularly exhibited. She also teaches art at the gallery and conducts regular workshops for the Doña Ana Arts Council, although that’s all on hold during the pandemic.
Oliver said she is “academic in the way I teach,” focusing on the basic principals of art. But, as an artist herself, she has “a problem with tight realism. If you’re going to try to paint exactly what you see, why not take a photograph instead?” she said.
She describes her work as nonrepresentational, or abstract.
“Art is so subjective,” she said. “You can never please anyone and everyone. You’ve got to please yourself – like coffee – it’s exactly the same with art.”
Some years ago, Oliver said she made up her mind to “only paint beauty, only have beauty in my heart.”
For more information, visit www.juliefordoliver.com.