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sneak peek at an in progress painting!

i’ve been playing a lot with the techniques i learned in jesse reno’s painting workshop. and while this girl is definitely still in-progress (i’m still staring at her in the corner of my studio until i see what to do next), i’ve been delighted and super inspired by the entire process!
first off, it’s been so new painting on paper! i’m really loving the larger sheets of bristol paper…
the paper takes so well to acrylics! 
and it’s awfully fun to find shapes within all of that color! like this dancing bear! i fell in love with his orange cheeks and then realized… 
he’s playing the trumpet! but by the time i finished painting in that trumpet, i saw these jellyfish swimming all around him. inspired by jesse reno, i started writing down the evolution on the back of the painting…and it kind of plays out like a surreal animation.
and the next thing i knew, the jellyfish turned into a dinosaur (that’s his monster-like head there at the bottom of the page)…
but the paint was too wet to continue. so i stepped away and started a new painting. then when i came back, i turned the dinosaur monster on its head and saw the outline of this girl…
i really identified with her (so much more than all of those other characters i saw in the painting before her). but i’ve always felt that you have to get through the layers and let everything out into your artwork (no matter how crazy it seems) before you get to the thing that really resonates. and it’s kind of awesome to have all of that incredible stuff covered up underneath. 
i feel like even when it’s covered up (whether it’s a journal page i paint over or an image) that thing is still there and always felt by whoever sees the painting. that’s why it’s so important to include whatever you feel or whatever your instincts tell you to do! it’s all part of the process!
after i looked at that last photo, i thought, ” she’s wearing a belt! and it’s the perfect spot for a few words!” i don’t often use text in my paintings, so what happened next is pretty fun. i went right for my pile of vintage sheet music. and the first page i picked up…you know what the title was? 
LITTLE OWL. so of course that had to be the words on her belt. and i know it has to be the title of this painting too! (it’s those magic moments that make me especially love the process of painting so, so much!!!)

and soon this girl got a blue, blue face. and things started growing all around her! 

i added a bit of origami paper into the leaves and flowers growing. and thought she needed an origami star to match…
a star to guide her and bring light, which turned into loads and loads of white!
and looking back, i really loved that blue face. there was something in there…maybe it will come back…
as i kept moving forward, the ground kept on getting darker and raising up around her! i was thrilled to see the tunnels on either side of her, so to make them stand out more, i covered up the third…
and this is how she’s been sitting this weekend. sort of uncertain… but i love her story! and as i work on a few other paintings, i’m pretty sure this girl still has some evolving to do!
thank you to everyone who has already registered for my HOW TO PAINT AN OWL E-Course! I’ve been busy recording lots and lots of videos for you!
and if you’re in madsion, wisconsin, there are still a few spots left for my in-person HOW TO PAINT AN OWL Workshop on March 19th! my summer is already booked, so this will be my last painting workshop in madison!
and a huge thank you to the lovely stella for her super sweet blog post about my owls!


  1. This is absolutely brilliant! I think I just had my AHA moments reading this. Beautiful work, and beautiful story.

  2. Wow, thank you so much! I love the evolution of your girl and the stories behind her! Can't wait to see what happens next.

  3. What a doll! I love seeing how this happens!

  4. how fun it was to watch your little girl evolve. all the layers of love, building her up!!
    love to you!

  5. So interesting to see how this painting evolved and developed – all those layers have their own story.

  6. It is so amazing to see the transformation on the canvas or paper I should say! Wow – to see where you started to where you end up. I am loving it Miss Juliette! 🙂

  7. Love looking at the process. 🙂 Wonderful painting.

  8. Here's a little affirmation for you 😀

    My Hubby is exploring sculpture for the first time. He has made a couple of pieces and is just now starting to explore more intricate work. Today, while he was working on it, his latest piece broke in half. I wasn't home, so I didn't get to hear the expletive firestorm when it happened, but I did get to witness his glum expression when he told me later 🙁

    I took a look at it, and yes, it was royally stuffed according to his original design, but then I looked up at him and said, 'You know, I know an artist online, Juliette Crane, and her methodology is to keep going until it works. Sometimes mistakes can be the point of inspiration that creates a fantastic piece of work. Change the design and keep going.' I then threw an idea at him that he could do with what he had, and later this afternoon he was out there still working on that same project, determined to make something of it.

    So there you go. Your word is spread 😀 and it works 😀

    (struck by Crane lightning)

  9. this is all so awesome to hear! thanks for spreading the word, nutty. i find nothing is ever a mistake… although i might have to start a new piece to get it right, i'm always learning from the risks i take. it's an awesome to gain new perspective 🙂


  10. How fun to see the process!

  11. wow…how fascinating to read and see the evolution of your painting. it took so many twists and turns along the way. very cool!!

  12. so cool to see your process! you're girl is adorable!

  13. that was fantastic… thanks for taking the time to take us along with you… great outcome!

  14. Love love love the story that is evolving along with the painting. I am amazed that the paper can stand up to all that! Bristol?

  15. yes, i've been using lots and lots of bristol paper since jesse reno's workshop! the paper totally stands up to all of the paint layers 🙂

  16. you gave me an excellent idea with this post … something I have been struggling with. Im off to see if I can work it out!! if I do, i will share. 🙂

  17. i'd love to see how it goes, brandi! best wishes to you!


  18. wow what fun to follow along with the story! Reminds me to remember some of jesse's tricks. I especially loved the finger painting, but still hate painting over pretty parts and want to bring them back… Think I need to loosen up I guess. Beautiful!

  19. Yay, super clear descriptions and totally inspiring. Thank you!

  20. Wow, that's gone through so many transformations. It's nice to see that, since I took Jesse's class too and can relate. You've done a nice job of blending your style and his techniques.

  21. Thanks for sharing Juliette. Would love to see the finish painting.
    Some artist calls it 'pulling out' art.
    I receive newsletter from a canadian artist by the name of Robert Genn, and he always has interesting tidbit to share.
    On my recent newsletter, he introduced the word 'autopoiesis' in art.It's very similar idea as 'pulling out' art.
    He says “
    “Autopoiesis” might just be a new word to you. It means “self-creation.”
    He continues .. ” In autopoiesis, on the other hand, the various components may be randomly fed in and the end result may not be known until it exists.”
    “Autopoiesis is useful in the making of art. Think, for example, of a painting as a living organism in which the introduction of parts suggests the introduction of other parts. The end product, while not pre-visualized, still becomes a tangible thing of its own.”
    What good, some might ask, is such a system? Apart from its brilliance as an exercise, autopoiesis simply and handily creates new forms and can be used as a legitimate art-production method. As well as its obvious value in abstract work, remarkable realistic forms can also evolve before your eyes.”

    “How to do it: Take a canvas and place on it a significant gestural splodge with as big a brush as possible. It might be one stroke of mixed colours and textures. This initial mark, while perhaps arbitrary and meaningless, may suggest whatever the next mark might be. Just as oxygen is drawn into the biological cell to excite the nucleus, the next elements you put in are automatically attracted to and become part of the initial commitment. Your image bank, unique stylistic flourishes and personal processes make their contributions. A previously unseen image begins to appear. An autopoiesis canvas has a journey of its own.”

    I wanted to share this, because I so enjoy the way he explains it.

    Mariette 😉

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