We had the good fortune of connecting with Justine Mantor-Waldie and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Justine, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, originally published in 1923. The book gave me insights into how to view art making, how to critique work and ideas. The underlying impetus artists can find in their work. This book has provided me with the root structure on which the tree of my art is based.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think what sets my art apart from other art is it is unique in vision and execution. I work on boards from Ampersand and mainly clayboards which are hardwood coated with kaolin clay and black scratchboards. I create desert landscapes and cactus flower images with acrylic inks and pearlescent inks on the boards. On the black I use the inks and pearlescent inks painted with tiny brushes along with an etching tool to emphasize the edge lines and atmospheric light seen as part of the landscapes. On the white clayboard I do an under painting with the pearlescent inks then paint on top using the pearlescent colors to peep out among the edges. What sets me apart is my attention to detail, light and movement so the whole painting seems to be breathing. This year has been very special for my art. For the first time I attempted to interpret water lily pads and the underlying movement of the weeds in the water. I call it “Water Dance” and it is on black scratchboard and 40 x 30″ and took me the whole summer to paint. I entered it in this year’s Fountain Hills Art League’s Juried Competition and I won “Best of Show”. I made a very major sale during “Hidden in the Hills Studio Visit and Sale”. I sold my flagship painting “After the Storm” to the Goulds. They treasure it and during these trying times they said the painting raises their spirits. I became one of the select few to become a national “Ambassador” for Ampersand boards In art the distance of the career is measured by trial, error and lots of work. Even as a young girl in Neenah, Wisconsin I aspired to more than my immediate surroundings seemed to indicate. My first prize in art came when I was 15 as a result of submitting a mosaic of a sunset made out of floor tiles. I won a two week summer art scholarship to “The Clearing” on the thumb of Wisconsin. Everyday we painted water colors among the small fishing communities and every night was a critique and art talk and I was inspired. The teachers were intrigued by my water color technique. Where did I learn it? No where; I had taught myself with a small Prange water color set. After seeing the Chicago Art Institute during my Junior Year at High School I determined I wanted to go to school there. In my Senior year I applied to the School of the Art Institute with the help of my Dad and my Art teacher I submitted a portfolio of a still life water color painting a sculpture created from an 8 x 10″ piece of paper and a statement describing why I wanted to be an artist. I was one of two students addmitted from Wisconsin and became the only one to actually graduate. It took me six years returning to Neenah in tears many times until I figured it out. I was only one of two people among the twenty people in my freshman division to get a degree/the rest dropped out not able to deal with the rigorous requirements of the Institute. Along the way I received a 10 week scholarshop to the summer school “Ox Bow School of Art” in Saugutuck, Michigan. Among the the trees and Lake Michigan I discovered the magical layering possibilities of printmaking and I went on to receive my BFA in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking from the Art Institute. I have had to fight many battles from my male art students who would say, “why does your opinion matter, you’re a girl.” I went on to Graduate School at Northern Illinois University where I was approved through for my Masters of Art exhibition on my submitted print portfolio “Madonna Series” without having to attend any classes! The prints I submitted were made from lineolum blocks and printed on my kitchen table. The Womens’ movement and the heady female assertions contributed to my images and career with many exhibits and prizes. Physical challenges have impacted my life and art career. I have a spinal deformity and have experienced several trips to the hospital with spinal injuries.. One month out of Graduate school I was hired by Loyola Unyiversity going on to become a tenured, Associate Professor and teaching there for 22 years. I discovered Arizona, moved there on a year’s leave of absence, I had found my true path to creativity; the desert with it’s many layered secrets, its magical light. The layering Is part of my history and pivoted away from printmaking to the ink and etching. The injured spine required me to leave printmaking but throughout I have enjoyed experimenting with media including handmade paper, bookbinding and collage. While I was an “Artist in Residence” at the Phoenix Center I discovered the Ampersand Boards. Lessons along the way? Never give up no matter what life or circumstance dump on you. Art is that shining idea always out there it lifts me up and continues to fuel my creativity.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
First stop would be sunset wine on our patio in my beloved Fountain Hills. The beautiful surroundings of the Superstitions with red sunsets reflected on the mountains on the East and the McDowell mountains guarding the entrance to the town on the West. Seeing this beautiful town inspired me to move thirty years ago and I have never regretted the decision. Next we would go to SoFritas for dinner on their patio as we watch the fountain in Fountain Hills put on its hourly show. We would hike in the McDowell Mountain Park with closeup views of desert vistas. To round out the week we would travel to my favorite spot, Sedona. My friend could enjoy two days of an Ink and Etching Workshop I teach at the Sedona Arts Center. For at least ten years I have been a member, demoing my inks and etching paintings, along with my position as an juried professional, exhibiting artist and recently a workshop teacher with the Center. We would explore the hiking trails but especially we would spend a day at “Red Rock Crossing” where we would picnic and view Castlerock and see the rushing waters during the Springtime runoff. We would sample Mexican food at Tlaquepaque and enjoy the varied experiences of the galleries. Finally we would end our week in Cottonwood visiting my artist friend Claudia Hartley where she would guide us on sketching trips to her favorite art landscape sites.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My friend, publicity and artistic liason, Cindy Shievitz. She is always there with new, positive insights to my art and my life. We both are going through some tough personal times beyond corona virus, yet she always is uplifting no matter how much hard knocks life has handed out. We created a beautiful book about my life and work, titled “Sunsets”. She designs all my publicity cards and beautifully produces my quarterly newsletter. Initially we met at Mesa Community College where she was my student in drawing class. We definitely hit it off and she went on to take my design and color classes. Turned out she was a computer tech person and she went on to teach computer and went on to co-direct a Personal Art Marketing class which was highly successful at MCC. Additionally she is a consummate artist herself; she is a magician with crocheting, creating the most amazing organic shapes, vessels and clothing, Cindy creates all her own clothes sewing by hand andfindis inspiration from the historic and contemporary fashions at the Phoenix Art Museum. Her husband, Mark is very ill yet they share a special bond which is both intellectual and emotional and is an inspiration to my life and relationship to my own husband, Bill. Cindy is always uplifting with her connection to the stars, and that creative flow of life found in all of us and she is the river which opens up that flow.

Website: www.justjustine.com
Facebook: Justine.waldie@cox.net

Other:¬†President, Fountain Hills Art League; www.FountainHillsArtLeague.com Fountain Hills Art League’s “Tour d’ Artistes” (founding member) Sonoran Art League member and exhibiting artist in “Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour and Sale” (15 yrs.) American Women Artists

Image Credits
After the Storm, Cindy Shievitz Fountain Hills Times