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Meet Judith Dauncey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judith Dauncey.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am a native Arizonan, going several generations back. I spent a lot of time solo as a child, we had a large parcel of land and I was always outdoors exploring- so I was very much in my own head, a daydreamer. My mother and grandmother both enjoyed creating things, so I was inspired by them very young. Art saved me in my teenage years and was an excellent outlet for repressed angst!

In my early 20’s I began working for a large local art company, where I learned a lot about the ‘art trade’ and met what is still my core group of artist friends. Some have left the state, most remained, but I was introduced to this amazing ‘family’ of makers that I have now. From there I have worked independently as a commercial designer and fine art painter since 2000. That same year I also became one of the founding members of the Holgas Collective in downtown Phoenix.

I have always chaffed at the idea of traditional roles, none the less, I have found myself filling many of them. Inside I’m Siouxsie Sioux, outside I’m Susie Homemaker, but no one part defines me. There are strange expectations placed on women in the arts, people like to tell you what you can and can’t be. I think that is why in some ways, my work continues to pick through the 50’s ideal of a nuclear family and features some element of domesticity. Everything I do is about connectivity, truth, emotions, perceptions, and evolution. Only we can define who we want to be and how we want to be it.

Please tell us about your art.
Well I have a bit of a split personality in my work you could say. From a young age I was a trained abstract painter, but I fell away from it for years, I really burnt myself out. Eventually I came back to it, and I still love the freedom and the head space that it creates for me. I may start with a finished product in mind, or be experimenting with something new, but it is always the paint- the marks, layers, palette, texture that dictates to me where I am going. It’s that push and pull that keeps me after it. So, with my abstracts, I paint under my married name Judith Dauncey.

I also do assemblage work under the name Judith Ann Miller. I have always had a fascination with found objects- the first time I saw Joseph Beuys at the SFMOMA I spent a long time, I mean A LONG time, in that exhibition just totally fascinated by what he’d created. To transport someone to a different place through objects was magical and intense.

Objects are totems to us, whether it’s a familiar one of not. Things are built to be disposable now, but the things from the past have a weight and beauty that shouldn’t be overlooked. I am endlessly drawn to what seems to be disregarded- philosophy, handwriting, ephemera- seemingly obsolete items. I hope to take some of that and in combination with my oil painting, use some of my own totems, and try to craft a story with each piece created. Like excavations through my own past, I’m hoping to encourage others to do the same. As a kid I perfected being invisible, flying under the radar was my survival technique. Eventually I learned to come out of hiding, and that only through openness and honesty do we find growth. I don’t look at my work as self-portraits as such, more of a dare. I’ll show you my heart if you show me yours.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Yeah, the eternal question. I have supported myself many ways- kitchens, retail, offices, child care, and yes as an independent painter. And I have let myself be derailed more than once. It’s all out of fear isn’t it? I let myself be pulled away from art as a whole for 3 years because of a well-paying job, and another 3 to pursue a separate career. After I had my daughter I knew I had to make a change. So, still running from the fear of failure, I decided to take up a career in pastry, something I had wanted to do my whole life. After a particularly awful day, sitting on the floor crying, I realized what I was doing. I was so afraid to fail as a painter that I was failing everywhere else in my life by running away from it.

I’m lucky enough to be painting full time currently. What I have learned is even if you are supporting yourself with another job, do a little bit every day. Give yourself that mental space to be creative and try to make progress no matter how much. I don’t regret my time away from art, I learned a lot because of it, but I regret putting down my brushes entirely; it has taken a long time to claw my way back to a certain level of confidence. It is hard to know when that jumping off point might be to try it full time, but you can’t let fear rule you. At some point, if you want to take that leap, you have to. Failure of some kind will happen eventually, but you have to listen to your gut and learn to trust your own instincts. Make the time & make the work!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am lucky enough to be represented by Art One Gallery in Scottsdale under the name Judith Dauncey and more recently by monOrchid Gallery in Phoenix under the name Judith Ann Miller.

I am currently showing at monOrchid as part of The Coterie Exhibition, a group showing of their 7 represented artists, each of us displaying a small grouping of our work. The show will be up until Sept. 7th. I also have a website that I keep updated with a selection of my works.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait courtesy of Rainey Studios Photography
All artwork photos are courtesy of Judith Dauncey

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