June Billings Safford attended Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn, New York where she took an abundance of drawing, painting and graphic arts classes. At Wagner College on Staten Island she earned a BA. There June studied with art professor Tom Young, a student of Hans Hoffmann of the New York school. After moving to Montana with her family in 1968, she has taken part in a multitude of painting workshops. Presently, besides working in her own studio in Bozeman, she has chosen to join a group of talented women painters who work in the studio of Montana artist, Diana Tremaine.
In Tremaine’s studio, she and her women friends have been exploring the many avenues to painting Still Life. And, though Still Life has been central, at times they paint from a life model and/or experiment with contemporary painting issues that may involve clothing, desserts, even artistic conceptions of urban landscapes; yet, drawing and painting from life models is one of the challenges Safford most enjoys. The figure continues to be paramount in much of her art. Safford, along with her husband and children, ran a Montana horse boarding operation for more than a decade. Recent work executed in pastel and in acrylics relates to themes from that time of her life. Her love for drawing the figure, particularly one in action, and her interest in horses currently come together as rodeo images.
She gave up the Atlantic Ocean to live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Opportunities for hiking and back country skiing have prompted her to photograph and paint these stunning vistas. Her treatment remains expressionistic, sometimes more impressionistic, favoring color and pattern above all else. Often saturated acrylic color is the foundation of one of her oil’s genesis. The following quote by Matisse inspires her. ” When one composes with color, it is simply a question of emphasizing the differences. What counts most with color are relationships.” Intuitive, elemental forces offer her rendering strength. Brush strokes for her are overt marks worthy of demonstration.
Safford has exhibited some of her work in the following Montana cities: Missoula, Red Lodge, Gardiner, Butte, Livingston and Bozeman. In March 2007 her figures and mountain scenes were exhibited in the Artist’s Gallery of the Emerson Cultural Center in Bozeman. In August 2006 she took part in a two women exhibition entitled The Art of the Figure at the Livingston Art Center. Most recently the Altitude Gallery in Bozeman exhibited her small oil paintings of Downtown Bozeman.