Julia Everett, August Artist of the Month, is a firm favourite with Art2Arts customers. Her abstract landscape paintings, with their song reference titles, easily evoke nostalgia and emotion. Academically trained, Julia knew she wanted to be an artist from a very young age. She’s kindly agreed to talk me through her process and inspirations.What was your experience at art college in Brighton like?
I was very lucky to study Fine Art in Brighton. It was an amazing place to be, not only for its fabulous seaside location, but also for the quality of the degree course. We were all given generous sized studios to paint in and our tutors were all professional artists. We also had famous artists such as Bridget Riley and Patrick Hughes visiting for guest lectures and tutorials. It taught me how to work independently as a painter as well as all the skills needed for integrating in the art world.How did your interest in painting develop?
I’ve always wanted to paint. When I was a child my dream was to go to art school, mainly because I liked school and loved art! I grew up as an only child and spent a lot of time on my own drawing and painting and making things. I left school at 16 and went straight to the local art college, which enforced my belief that art was what I was meant to be doing. I suppose I was always the weird kid so I fitted in perfectly! From there I did a foundation art course and then a degree in fine art.
How do you maintain a connection with rural landscape while working from London?
I grew up in Wolverhampton, probably the least rural place in England! But I spent a lot of my childhood escaping to Wales and Shropshire and I love the contrast between the city and the countryside. For me West London is quite rural, there are lots of trees and parks and my studio on the Thames Path in Hammersmith has its own river terrace. When the doors of my studio are open I can see the river while I paint. I also love to travel and spend lots of time in Wiltshire and Cornwall. I paint from memory rather than real life so I draw upon my experiences of nature when I work.
Could you describe the process you go through in imagining, planning, and creating a painting?
Sometimes I have a fresh blank canvas in front of me and have no idea what will happen, often this is when I make my favourite paintings! Other times I have a place in mind and the colours I want to use ready to go and I start thinking where I’ve been and how it felt. Usually it’s somewhere by the sea and often at twilight or sunset. Then I start listening to something on my ipod, lately I’ve been enjoying my Neil Young back catalogue. Other painting favourites are John Martyn, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake.
What are your favourite types of paints to use?
I love colour and mainly use oil paint in vivid colours on un-primed canvas. I dilute the paint with a glaze medium and linseed oil to improve the flow and I build up the picture in layers, letting it dry in between. I like the way the paint can soak into the canvas and often take a path of its own. I use sponges rather than brushes and blend the paint together. Sometimes I splash paint around to give a looser feel. Lately I have been adding a layer of fluorescent acrylic to intensify the colours in my recent series of abstract sunsets.
Who and what are your main inspirations?
I am inspired by the sea and the sky and light on water and the feeling of being in a wild landscape. I have been really into the horizon lately. The eulogy at a funeral I went to recently described the horizon as a metaphor for life and death and the uncertainty of the future. I particularly identified with this as it made sense of my obsession with horizons, especially the dark horizon on the sea at night with the magical feel of otherworldliness that it has.
I always listen to music when painting and feel that this has a strong influence on the finished work too.
What other jobs have you had?
As an avid music fan most of my other jobs have involved it in some way, I used to work in a record shop and then as a bookkeeper for a music shop. I’ve also worked for Illuminate Productions, a not for profit art organisation who stage art and music events in unusual locations. I worked for them on Drift and the Merge Festival.
Do you every get creative blocks, and if so, how do you deal with them?
When I find myself a bit stuck I think its best to take some time out, maybe travel somewhere inspiring or just have a break from painting. Usually it doesn’t take me long to want to get back to my studio. Another thing I find helpful is some random action painting to see what happens and where the mark making will take me. Its good fun to splash some colour around!
What advice do you have to young artists just starting out?
Raise your internet presence, do as much as you can to promote yourself online and connect with other artists.
Facebook and Twitter are great places to meet artists and to find out about art opportunities.
See more luscious landscapes at Julia’s Art2Arts page.