Born in St. Louis, Missouri and currently residing in Loveland, Colorado, Julie Bender grew up with a fascination for drawing animals and nature and has remained on that course all her life. After graduating with a BFA from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1980, her career took off as a computer artist and later as a project manager with web and software development firms until mid-2012.
In 2002, when her beloved vizsla died at the relatively young age of nine, Bender found that the only way to ease her pain was by making some deeply personal gesture of gratitude. Having no previous knowledge of wood-burning, she bought a hobby-shop wood-burner, and using a photograph as a guide, set out to burn her dog’s portrait on a cherry wood urn. It was then that Bender found her life’s calling.
Residing in Colorado, Bender's passion for pyrography is matched by her accurate and artful portrayal of her animal subjects. The Western natural world is her source of continued inspiration. She frequents Colorado's high country and prairies for inspiration, and is always keyed into that rare moment when animals display a particular look or behavior that makes her heart race.
Described in traditional terms, pyrography is the art of drawing with fire. Bender uses very hot metal tips to burn images on a natural surface. Though she burned on wood for years, she now prefers heavyweight watercolor paper as her substrate, as it presents unique challenges and results that push her outside her comfort zone. Due to its monochromatic nature, pyrography is all about applying various degrees of heat that produce sepia-like hues, which yield subtle values and tones. Executing with accuracy and imagination is her constant goal in producing a unique and evocative work of art.
Bender is an award-winning Signature member of the Society of Animal Artists and member of the International Guild of Realism. Her work is represented by galleries nationally, in permanent museum collections, and is collected worldwide.
Julie's narrative on pyrography and her art career
The Art of Pyrography
2015 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (cover)
2015 Colorado Homes & Lifestyles (feature)2014 Gray's Sporting Journal
2014 Southwest Art magazine (feature)
2013 Gray's Sporting Journal
2013 Loveland Reporter-Herald
2012 Sporting Classics magazine
2011 Western Art Collector magazine
2011 Strokes of Genius 3: The Best of Drawing
2010-2013 Birds in Art catalog
2010 Scroll Saw & Woodworking & Crafts magazine
2010 Southwest Art magazine
2008-2010 Annual Art and the Animal catalog
2009 Great Dogs Amazing Artists (book)
2009 Artists for Conservation catalog
2009 Southwest Art magazine
2009 Cowboys & Indians magazine
2009 CreaturesAll magazine cover
2008 Wildscape magazine
2008 Art Horse magazine
2007 Andalusian magazine
2007 Horses in Art magazine
Honors & Awards
2014 Artist in Residence, Boulder County Open Space, Caribou Ranch, Colorado
2012 Artist in Residence, Leigh Yawkee Woodson Art Museum, Wisconsin
2011 Purchase for permanent collection, Leigh Yawkee Woodson Art Museum of "Ivy League"
2009 Award of Excellence, Society of Animal Artists for "On the Alert"
2009 Leonard J. Meiselman Memorial Award for Realistic Painting Executed in an Academic Manner for "Peruvian Splendor"
2009 President’s Award Ohio Veterinary Medical Assn. for “Unbridled Devotion”
International Guild of Realism, member
Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1980 University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Bachelor of Science in Art Education, 1981 University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri