Art in Bloom: From educator who dabbled in art to artist who teaches

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted September 10, 2021 | By Lisa McGinnes, Ocala Gazette

Julie Shealy poses with an assortment of her oil paintings of flowers at Gallery B on East Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala on Sept. 7. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

For three decades Julie Shealy focused on educating local children in her career as a teacher, principal and administrator. Her favorite school locations to visit were always the art rooms, watching “kids who are making art with no inhibitions.”

Meanwhile, she was “painting off and on.”

“I’ve always loved art; I’ve always dabbled in art,” Shealy said.

That’s why she made time outside her busy work schedule to volunteer for Fine Arts For Ocala. When she retired, Shealy “wanted to jump in” to painting. She found a mentor and her biggest inspiration in beloved local artist Margaret “Peggy” Watts.

“She taught me so much,” Shealy said, adding that she is mostly self-taught but learned all the basics, including how to use oil paint, how to mix it and what mediums to use, from Watts.

“She paints realistically, but I always had this edge towards impressionism,” Shealy noted. Her favorite subject: flowers, or “bloomies” as she calls them.

“I love flowers,” Shealy said, admitting she doesn’t have a green thumb and is probably better at painting them than growing them. “I love the impressionists. I wanted to paint flowers but I want you to look at them and say, ‘They look like flowers and they remind me of flowers, but they’re not necessarily perfect.’”

Some of Shealy’s works currently hanging at Gallery B, which she co-owns with four other artists, include magnolias and sunflowers. “Make Me Happy” features bright yellow and pink flowers, because, as she said, “The colors make me happy.”

“Be the Light,” a painting of lilies, shows the flowers in a glass vase, which she said “adds a sense of light.” The vase is modeled after a Lenox vase that was her grandmother’s.

Her own four grandchildren, Shealy said, are her “love and life.”

“They all love the paint,” she said. “I feel like I’ve taught them a lot about art and the appreciation of what we do.”

Her second joy, after her grandchildren, is teaching art. Shealy teaches a weekly oil painting class for adults at the gallery. The new Petals and Paint summer camp for children, which she hosted with The Graceful Gardener owner Taylor Grace, was “a ball,” she said.

“It was so much fun. We want to do it again,” Shealy said. “I learn by teaching kids because I see how uninhibited they are. When I paint a good painting, I feel really good about it. But when I teach and someone’s really getting it, I feel extra good about that. I feel like I contributed, and I get a lot of joy out of that.”

newspaper icon

Support community journalism

The first goal of the Ocala Gazette is to deliver trustworthy local journalism so corruption, misinformation and abuse are not hidden from the public or unchallenged.

We count on community support to continue this important work. Please donate or subscribe: