Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Iowa Artist

Pastels, peace and pixels


Sebern Beachy searches for a creative high.

When Judy Sebern Beachy was early into her art career, she was asked by a friend to draw a portrait of her nephew. When completed, she charged one dollar for the sketch.

“It’s hard to admit I was an artist. I called myself a ‘creative experiment,’ ” she says. “I still have that dollar bill.”

After a long and successful career as a data collector, Judy began her art career in her early 40s, taking classes at the Des Moines Art Center, focusing on pastel paintings. Her first showing was at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she serves on the visual arts committee.

The church display was storytelling art.

“It inspired me to draw something specific,” she says. “I felt like I had something I needed to get out with words and drawings.”

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One of her signature art paintings is the peace symbol. In 2011, she experienced a commuter marriage. Feeling overwhelmed and undermotivated, she made a New Year’s resolution to live in peace. She took old, erased CD-ROM discs and painted various peace signs on them. She framed some and made others into magnets. She also sneaks in peace signs on many of her paintings.

“When I painted the peace sign, I did a mediation to help me focus for the day. I’ve been a peace lover since I was a teenager,” she says.

Judy says her artwork is not locked into a specific genre. Recently, she started pixel art, which is cutting out painted pieces of a watercolor and affixing them to a painting, similar to a mosaic piece. Her largest pixel painting hasn’t sold, although she’s had offers.

“Every art piece I do is like my child; I don’t want to let it go,” she admits. “But my walls at home are filled with art, so it’s time to start letting go of some of them.”

Money isn’t her motivator, and she doesn’t worry about selling her pieces.

“Raising money through art isn’t my goal,” says Judy. “It’s the process. It’s like a natural high.”

Judy recently retired from her fulltime day job and now works in art full time. She feels fortunate and says her new career is an adventure.
“After I’m done with a painting, I’ll step back and look at it a month later. I’m sometimes amazed I did it. To see it hanging at a show, I think, ‘Wow, that’s cool. I actually did that?’ ” she says. “Sometimes I feel like someone else is in charge, working through me.”

Judy says creating art is essential for her mental health and enhancing her spiritual journey.

“I like how art creates itself. It’s an emotional thing,” she says. “I’m just along for the ride.” ♦

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