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The Artist Studio - Celebrating 10 Years of Creativity and Love

Nourishing your creative spirit is easy in an area like Downtown Cape Girardeau. Evidenced by the number of art studios, galleries and specialty shops within the 131 blocks of downtown, art is very much alive in the area's culture. One studio exemplifies this and is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Here is a little peak into the creative world at The Artist Studio with Owner/Artist, Judy Barks-Westrich.

Being an artist is more than simply creating pieces, cleaning paint brushes and sharpening pencils; it's about sharing your talents and showing the rest of the world how to be creative. 'Iwanted to share with others some fundamental basics that my profession of teaching had taught me about the visual arts,' commented Judy. This premise is the foundation of The Artist Studio that opened at 38A North Main on March 5, 2005.

A full-time Art instructor at Cape Central High School at the time, she participated in every First Friday with the Arts event, worked Saturdays at the studio and conducted evening workshops. After a 39-year teaching career, she retired from public education in 2011 “to” the studio and simply continued her passion with the arts.

Her space is multifaceted. It's a working studio - walk by the storefront and you can almost always catch Judy in the middle of a masterpiece with paint on her fingers. It's an instructional studio - more than 60 workshops have been held on everything from acrylics, watercolor and printmaking, to weaving and paper making. It's also a display studio - stop in anytime to peruse and purchase her original creations.

'I remember when I sold my first piece of artwork - it was a handmade paper casting. I almost felt a loss... sounds odd doesn't it? But then, I also felt a compliment and realized that someone liked my work - great feeling for an artist!'

With the exception of large stretched canvases, most of Judy's paintings are created in the studio. Inspiration and stimulation motivate her when surrounded by these beautiful pieces. 'I actually seem to gain positive energy from my art.'

Spontaneity is also key to her creativity, allowing her compositions to evolve over time and through experimentation. Acrylics and latex are her typical 'go-to's' with the palette knife on close standby. 'Texture - I love texture,' she expressed. This signature element is always visible in her works whether it be a subtle addition or an intricate expression of the focal point.

'I express my style through nonobjective, abstract design. I see ideas everywhere and derive inspiration from personal pleasure.' This concept is truly evident when stepping into her studio. Her abstract landscapes - or 'landshapes' - and abstract florals allow you to see a setting or a beautiful flower in a completely different way than you imagined. 'I create to please myself because I love the creative process! When I feel successful, my art reflects that moment.'

If you'd love to create your own masterpiece but don't know where to start, don't know what to do or think you aren't creative enough, give Judy a call. 'I still get excited and gain energy when I instruct workshops and help others appreciate their talents and the arts,' she added. 'The artwork that is created is always amazing . . .'

'My requirement for a workshop or special instruction is the desire to take time for creative pleasure. Preconceived talent is not important.' By stressing the creative process, people are able to gain a greater appreciation for being an artist and can understand art as more than strokes on a canvas. All workshops are offered upon request - morning, afternoon or evening.

'No, I have not made a fortune; but, my mission of sharing my knowledge and ability with the arts with others has made for a fantastic 10 years!' Her passion with the arts is still in her heart – for that reason, she feels fortunate!

Another year brings new excitements and unlimited creative potential. 'I invite everyone to visit The Artist Studio – let’s talk art!'

This post was co-written by guest blogger and owner of The Artist Studio, Judy Barks-Westrich, and Old Town Cape Project Manager, Christa Zickfield.

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