“We are so happy to be part of this community and wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.”

Maybe it was the Friday afternoon rainstorm or the gentle greeting I received upon my arrival. Whatever it was, the time I spent with local artist Julianne Miller was nothing less than serene and inspirational, much like her distinctive artwork and the journey she took to get here.

As the daughter of an art teacher (and one of seven children), Julianne was encouraged to be creative from a very young age. She followed her proclivity for the arts into college where she studied commercial art at Cincinnati College of Design. For 20 years, she enhanced marketing campaigns as a graphic artist until her life took a hard turn.

Julianne calls it “serendipity.” I’d label it fate. Either way, the universe had a different plan for her future. Julianne’s mother passed away in 2000, and while clearing out the home, she came across a few remaining boxes sitting in the middle of the basement floor, almost waiting to be discovered. They were full of her mother’s unused pastel paints—untouched because a full-time teacher and mother of seven certainly didn’t have much time to create for fun. So, Julianne began to experiment with the chalk-like pastels but was soon sideswiped by her husband’s cancer diagnosis only six months later.

Being the sole caretaker of her husband and five children, there was little time to breathe—but somehow, Julianne always found time to create using her mother’s paints. It was her therapy, her release. Unfortunately, Julianne’s husband lost his battle with cancer, and she told me creating artwork was the only time she could escape the pain of such tragedy.

We all have had some sort of struggle or tragedy in life that paves a new path or redirects the old one. What one does with that change makes all the difference. In Julianne’s case, she was forced to consider a “new” career that would accommodate her schedule and provide for her family financially. She began creating more art, displaying (and selling) at different galleries throughout Colorado, and networking with other artists and gallery owners.

In stepped fate.

Out of the blue, Julianne received a call from a local gallery owner who was selling his shop in downtown Evergreen, and in 2010, Stoneheart Gallery was born. It was then that she decided to switch from pastel paints to oil-based for aesthetic reasons. Julianne’s popularity grew as her colorful depictions of mountain animals, aspen trees and landscapes caught the eye of many passersby. Soon, her vibrant artwork was purchased and displayed in local shops, restaurants and homes across the country.

As I sat amongst her collection, I was transfixed by the depth of color and brilliance that pops off the canvases. Each piece telling its own story, yet all embrace Julianne’s signature play with bold, prismatic colors. Even a “simple” aspen piece holds layers of meaning. Julianne “loves to focus on the trunks and the unique scarring they exhibit,” like humans, the aspens bare unique scars and wounds, whether internal or external. Similarly, she associates “the interconnected root systems with our human ties to family and friends who give us strength to endure life’s struggles.” Julianne’s scars were deep, however the act of painting, along with family and friend support, allowed her to rise like a phoenix into the renowned artist she is today.

After having accomplished so much as an artist, I wondered if there were other goals or ambitions she wished to achieve. Without hesitation, Julianne quipped, “Just that I can always be able to paint in my pajamas from sunrise to sunset.” It’s a simple statement that speaks volumes of her person. Julianne doesn’t need much; she just wants to be able to do what she loves: paint. Paint all day long, preferably in the comfort of her PJs. Personally, if I could live life in my jams, I, too, would be one happy person. Which is what I gleaned from this local artist: a complete and utter contentedness with life.

The beauty of Julianne’s work is the sunniness that accompanies each piece. She explains, “I like bringing joy into the homes of others. I want them to have a positive experience when they look at my work.” And truth be told, one can only smile when they gaze upon a brilliant piece of Julianne’s artwork; the energy that springs from each canvas is palpable.

As the afternoon rainstorm came to an end, so, too, did my time with Julianne. I couldn’t help but wonder if what they say about the universe is true. Does it have a plan for all of us? Julianne believes, “You’re going to wind up doing what you were meant to do.” Fortunately, Julianne followed the universe’s set path for her, and the world is a more beautiful place because of it.

Julianne’s evolving collection of artwork

can be viewed at Stoneheart Gallery in

downtown Evergreen, or visit her website at