One of my favorite things to do other than writing is tole painting. There’s nothing like taking a blank surface and creating a masterpiece. Getting lost in a world of snowmen, gingerbread people, and many other fun characters is such fun! A few years ago I discovered some pieces I fell in love with. The designer? Jamie Mills-Price. Absolutely love her designs. She’s creative, fun, and never runs out of great ideas!
Recently, I was able to interview Jamie and she has an interesting story. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know her.
Tell us about yourself: Your background. Likes, dislikes or pet peeves. Family.
I grew up in a very loving family, in a small town in southern Oregon. I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, exploring the mountains and streams around us. We were not well off, but I did not realize that. We always had a huge garden in the summer; we had chickens, horses, dogs, and cats…everything a country girl needs!
I was married at age 18 to my sweetheart (Christopher). A couple of years later we had our first son (Ryan) and about 6 years later I got pregnant with our second son (Tyler). We were excited about our little growing family, but the day after our 8th wedding anniversary, my husband was killed in a logging accident, and it really rocked my (our) world.
I had always looked at the world through rose-colored glasses. I was a happy, positive person and content with my life. Now here I was, 6 ½ months pregnant with my youngest son, and a widowed mother of two boys. I really did not want to go through my life without my sweetheart and I couldn’t bear the thought of the boys not having their super creative, enthusiastic, life-loving father to raise them. I sank into a depression and made daily trips to the cemetery with the boys as I just could not get over my grief.
This is where my art helped to save me….
My dear, family friend Flo, saw the path I was headed on and she talked me into taking a “tole” painting class with her. “Tole” painting – I had no idea what that was, but she talked me into taking it! To make a long story short – I fell in love with this style of painting and took right to it! I began to escape my reality a bit and began painting my blues away…
I would lose myself in another world when I picked up the paint brush. I was entranced with the creativity of this style of painting! How fun was it to take your painting (off a boring canvas) and put it on anything that would stand still long enough! <wink> I painted the furniture in my house, the walls, the doors, home décor items, you name it…I enjoyed it all! Slowly, I found my happiness returning and I have not looked back.
Now, I am engaged to a dear man, Don (from Valhalla) and we enjoy working together to create designs for the decorative arts industry. My boys have grown into wonderful young men, I am so proud of both of them, they live about 3 hours north of me, so I don’t get to see them as often as this Mother would like. :-)
Pet Peeves? I don’t like drama or negativity, so I try to avoid the situations, or people that continuously create it. Life is too short to have that in your life!
Likes, Dislikes? I love to laugh and I try to find the humor in most situations. Whether it is when I am designing, or teaching a class, I try to have a good time. In class, I strive to have the students relax and enjoy the process…not be stressed and tearing their hair out!
How long have you been drawing? Did you doodle as a child?
I doodled as a child, yes (and I still do!). I have been consciously sketching, (to my recollection), since about high school. I remember sketching faces and I also remember “designing” (sketching) clothing. I had dreams of being a clothing designer!
Did you ever dream that your love of painting would be so successful?
Not in my wildest dreams. I did not really start down this path until I was about 27-28. I never thought it would be much more than a hobby.
How did “Between the Vines” come about?
I was teaching “tole” painting classes and my students would ask me to adjust other designer’s patterns to “fit” their found surfaces and they often asked me to add other details, so I would draw those.
Pretty soon, my students encouraged me to do my own book – so I compiled a “book” full of my original designs and sent them to a publisher (not really expecting an answer back).
It was discouraging to me when I sent my portfolio to a publisher who “sat” on it for a year. In my mind, I thought I was not good enough to do tole books, so with acceptance of that fact, I continued to teach my classes and dream about the What If’s. Well, my students would not accept this and they encouraged me to send it to another publisher.
So, then I sent my portfolio to Sue Scheewe Publishing and she got back with me within about one week—she was excited to publish my book! I was on cloud 9! I could not believe it and I really credit her for getting my name and work under the eyes of so many painters. She gave me the wings to fly. I received many little words of wisdom and I was ready to do whatever she needed from me. I am a hard worker and was ready to apply it toward my dream of being an artist/designer.
Where do you come up with your designs?
Well, first off, I have a vivid imagination! :) I can easily visualize (and then sketch out) my thoughts into my designs. Any little thing can trigger an idea in my mind (colors, textures, etc.), but I can also easily visualize concepts and implementation, so I can plan out a whole new line of books in one setting. Ha!
The tricky part is that I don’t have enough time in my day to do everything my brain comes up with! I love whimsy and so I think that plays a large part into my designs. I can do realism, but I prefer to step into my imagination and create what my mind is seeing.
What’s your favorite character to paint (i.e. snowmen, ginger bread, penguins, etc)?
Well, I have to say snowmen are my favorite. I can almost paint them in my sleep by now!
Do you paint every day? How many workshops do you do in a year?
I don’t paint every day because I have so many things that I do with my designs on the computer after I am finished with the actual painting.
I do all the graphic work for Between the Vines, so a lot of my day might be spent editing photos, laying out designs, typing instructions, inking the line drawings, creating/publishing the club (clubs!) packets, start to finish. I work up all of my designs for the laser in the software needed to cut them. So my day is completely full, I work from the time my feet hit the floor, ‘til I fall into bed at night! I know I can’t keep up that pace forever, but there are so many things that I want to do, there are not enough hours in my day. :-)
The workshops (seminars, conventions) that I do varies each year. I oftentimes fly out twice a month to various locations to teach, but at least once a month. It has been wonderful to travel the world teaching my techniques. I love to experience other cultures and lifestyles. It is amazing to me that no matter where I go, whatever language is being spoken, that we all share the same love of wanting to paint something pretty for ourselves, or for family and friends; to decorate our homes, or to sell at craft fairs and boutiques. We all just love to paint some color into our world!
With everything that I already do, I stay super busy, so I will be cutting back on my travel teaching in the upcoming years, to devote more time to my designing. It is challenging to balance it all!
What would you say to someone who has a dream of one day teaching and designing? How would you encourage them?
Well, I would first say to follow your dreams and to imagine (visualize) yourself being successful at it! I guess it would also depend on how determined you are to make it work because to be successful and build a following, you have to put the time in. But we all start somewhere and things may fall into place easily for you, or it might take a while.
I also think it is important to be unique and not copy a style that is already out there. Even though that person had success with it, oftentimes you may look like you are copying them. I understand being inspired by someone, that happens often, but to really make it, try hard to be unique and not step on any toes! Be honest, have integrity and be respectful of other designers work, and you will always “paint with a happy heart”! :-)
Thanks Jamie! It was fun getting to know you. My favorite character is also the snowman! :-)
Visit Jamie at her site Between the Vines.
To all you painters out there. What is your favorite character to paint and why?