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Rising Stars: Meet Nila Jane Autry of Grantsville, Utah

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nila Jane Autry.

Hi Nila Jane, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I’m an Artist. It took me a long to discover this about myself and even longer to bravely claim the distinction. As I look back on my childhood, I was always excited about a school assignment that included art, such as decorating ‘My Journal ~ by Jane’ in about 3rd grade, coloring maps, and anything that involved the creative process. However, it wasn’t until I became a Junior in High school that I realized my love for creative ventures. I had an English class with a freshly graduated young teacher. She gave us a lot of time to write creatively. Having met her later in life, I think it was because she didn’t know what was expected of her. Now I hear she is organized, efficient, and a hard teacher. (hehe) We were assigned groups, and then we wrote poems and illustrated them. A lot of years later, I still have that book we made. I also took my first Art class and fell in love with painting and drawing. And I wrote fiction stories. They weren’t any good, but it was fun. That’s also the year I decided to be an Art Teacher.

So, a college education became a part of my life plan. I majored in art and English for the first 2 years. Then I moved on to Brigham Young University, where I majored and minored in art and became part of the Education department. Those were exciting years and difficult. I’ll never forget walking down the stairs of the Harris Fine Arts building for the last time, having finished all my courses, and heading to the tiny town of Ft. Thomas, Arizona, to begin my Art Teaching career. I was excited, scared, and felt I had barely figured out how to do college. Amidst all this excitement, my life was full of challenges, romance, heartbreak, and hard stuff. Now, after having babies and nursing babies for 10 years, teaching in public and private school systems for over 30 years, I am retired and spending all my time building my art business. I call it Eternal Oils ~ by Jane. As an art teacher, I’ve taught many mediums, processes, and types of art, including drawing, photography, yearbook, and pottery. Still, as I began taking art marketing classes, I was instructed to zero in on one medium and master it. So I did! What a difference that piece of advice has made in my career. I now paint in oils, mostly flowers. And marketing my work has become a joy and a great adventure.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Outside of my personal life, my biggest struggle is finding my collectors. I know you are out there, beautiful people who love beautiful things, fine art, especially flowers. My friend circles are educators, mothers, artists, and the simple people of the Earth. I give away more than I sell. Recently I have been honored to show my Florals at the Eccles Fine Art Gallery in Ogden, Utah. I participate in Art Festivals, every Plein Air Competition I can find, and help run our local Arts Guild. My artistic community is of great value to me. I’m also closely connected to the Utah State Arts and Museums government entity and often seek their encouragement and direction. They have supplied grant money off and on over the years and provided invaluable information.

Personally, by far, the most difficult life challenge I’ve ever faced was the loss of our beautiful daughter on April 8, 2011. She was 21 years old, married, and living in Peoria, Arizona. She took her own life. As devastating as that was, we believe in life after death and plan on seeing her again someday. She now knows that we love and have forgiven her, as she has forgiven us for our mistakes as parents. My sweet husband has been my strength and my rock. We miss her daily and keep her memory alive. Many paintings are done in her honor; missing her is a bitter-sweet heartache.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Oil Paintings of flowers in their natural habitat have become my trademark because I spend my summers painting outside. I have been attracted to flowers in nature, rather than vases of flowers, although I love those too. Anything beautiful! I paint in series. Landscapes, architecture, and portraits call to me. I want to paint everything; painting something glorifies and makes it more significant. I love the ability to point out the beauties of the Earth through artwork. Emotions are a big deal to me; I love sad, happy, excited, dark, and empty; I want to illustrate it all. So often wonder if I should loosen up and splash paint all over canvases and paint faster. Then I remember how much I love the detail, the focus, and the ability I have to make a flower petal turn gracefully and look so transparent and lifelike. It is who I am. Like beautiful music, my artwork evokes emotion and tells a story. I’m patient. I have learned to be myself. To embrace the emotions, talents, and challenges the Lord has blessed me with. I’ve learned that others need my energy, passion, and enthusiasm. I’ve been blessed to bless others and to help them in their life journey.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
My journey has been and continues to be supported by many people. The Utah State Arts and Museums government entity have wrapped its arms around me. They even attend my events and support me financially. Their support is so valuable. The Tooele County Arts Guild, our local art group, is a great strength and inspiration to artists all over the County. We support, encourage, and teach each other. We also host many events. Our biggest one is coming up at the end of September, a huge Renaissance Faire. I have been the President twice and am now serving as the Treasurer.

However, my biggest support is my husband. He has a lot more business sense than I do and is the best art critic! I’ve trained him, though; he doesn’t critique my work (anymore) unless I ask for it. He sees things I don’t, and his observations have vastly improved my work. He’s also patient with me, applauds my successes, and lets me cry on his shoulder when I’m feeling less than amazing. He also puts up with my crazy wanna-do everything nature. I have serious FOMO (fear of missing out) and thus sign up for far more than I can accomplish (working on that). Looking back, my parents also were big supporters. They are gone now, but I hear their advice and encouragement in my head constantly. I am surrounded by people who encourage me. I am so blessed.

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