From this aerie view she paints from memories and from nature as she sees and imagines it. “It’s great to have source material right at hand. I take a lot of pictures when I’m out with my dogs in the morning or out the windows from my house. Early morning or late evening is a contemplative and meditative time and mood. That’s what interests me.”
Julia has worked as a fine artist and muralist from a studio on the north shore of Massachusetts, and more recently from the mountains of Vermont. The woods, gardens and fields of her childhood memories are just as likely to show up in a painting today as the scene from her morning coffee break.
QUESTION: DESCRIBE HOW YOUR CHILDHOOD SETTING INFORMS YOUR WORK.
I grew up in a Victorian farmhouse in Pennsylvania. My mother was an avid gardener and beekeeper. She kept an old garden in the foundation of a barn that burned down. It was like a secret garden within walls. I loved to play there.
The trees in Pennsylvania are so big compared to the ones we have in New England – huge oaks. I spent a lof of time climbing trees and using my imaginative energy for coloring, drawing and reading fairytales, myths and stories. The woods I paint often have fairy tale qualities of light and it comes right from these places I remember.
QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?
Fall. I love the color and the changing light.
QUESTION: HAVE YOU HAD A RECENT ART EXPERIENCE THAT WAS PARTICULARLY INSPIRING?
I’ve been really excited by Gregory Crewdson’s photography. His recent work is shot in the woods which resonates for me. They suggest a weird fairy tale. I like to manipulate the landscape in my paintings and I filter and alter my photos in Photoshop to evoke a feeling that I want to paint. I’m trying to make a feeling, and that’s what he does in his art.
QUESTION: DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO WORK LARGE OR SMALL?
I love to do tiny little paintings 3 x 5, 4 x 6. Sometimes they are studies. It’s a great way to experiment. It’s so contained—the composition doesn’t get away from you. Easy to rein it in with one or two brush strokes. Then I love working in 36 x 36 or larger. I have to use my whole body and arm. The painting draws you in. It can be intimidating since you can lose track of what’s going on and all these areas need attention. But it’s fun to use a really large brush. Just load it up and don’t be afraid.
QUESTION: What’s the best food you’ve ever eaten?
My best food moment was eating apricots that I’d just bought from a fruit seller in Paris. They were still warm and perfect. They tasted like honey.
QUESTION: WHERE HAVE YOU TRAVELED RECENTLY?
My husband and I went to California this winter. My kids were in school or on breaks so it was just the two of us. He went to an environmental conference and I had some time to visit galleries and the artist colony in Carmel. It was misty on the coast and the colors were muted. Point Lobos has spectacular cliffs and surf. The ocean was turquoise and aquamarine, even in the mist. I’ve been painting the ocean since coming home.
QUESTION: WHO KEEPS YOU COMPANY IN THE STUDIO?
I love animals and we have three dogs — the most recent is a puppy. All three are rescue mutts.