JULIA S. POWELL – “The coast of Maine, jagged and sharp with color; the wood on old, beloved barns; the bounce of boats and sunlight in the sea; the flawed elegance of birch trees: these are my muses. Growing up in New England, I’ve been inspired by the woods, water, mountains and rocky shores throughout my life. Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I loved exploring pockets of green inside the city. The vibrancy of my hometown, along with the colorful characters that reside within it, impacts my landscapes by injecting hypercolor into scenes of nature. It is also why fences and telephone poles – markers of modernity often intertwined with nature – are a favorite subject.
Recently, much of my work has been influenced by the poet Robert Frost. As many critics have noted about Frost, a complex darkness often lay beneath his lyrical, New Englandy verse. As a landscape painter with strong political convictions, I am caught between my desire to capture a landscape beautifully and signal my distress about what is happening to the natural world. And increasingly – because of human behavior – the landscape is lashing out against us – in the form of storms, water, heat and other extremes. Indeed, given the political climate and the lack of accountable, ethical and scientific people leading governmental environmental agencies, I find myself increasingly preoccupied with how to portray the landscape in a way that makes people give a damn.”
Adelman Fine Art represents Julia S. Powell in San Diego, California.
Julia S. Powell Q/A
AFA: You work with watercolor and oils…Do you have a preference on which medium you enjoy working with more? Does it depend on what content you’re wanting to paint? i.e. trees/landscapes, abstract, waterscapes, florals…
JSP: “I don’t have a preference of oils versus watercolors…I honestly love doing both and love how much they differ. My watercolors are very detailed and focused, my oils are much thicker with a thicker massive brush and a much wider pallet knife, and each medium requires a different sort of mindset. I’m in a watercolor phase right now and I’m sure in a week or two I’ll get back into being in an oil phase :)”
AFA: What is the last thing you purchased on Amazon?
JSP: “Tennis grip (Wilson) and dog food!”
AFA: Who has influenced your work the most?
JSP: “Monet and Van Gogh”
AFA: Do you have any favorite quotes you live by?
JSP: “… ‘what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled.’
‘Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.’
(Both by Mary Oliver)”
AFA: What contemporary/current artists do you enjoy?
JSP: “Wolf Kahn, Bridget Riley, Martin Puryear”
AFA: Do you enjoy listening to music while you paint? If so, what’s your favorite thing to listen to? If not, do you enjoy any other sounds or do you like it quiet while you create?
JSP: “YESS I listen to hip hop, folk, opera, you name it. Most recently I have listened to Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2 by the British rapper Stormzy (on repeat) and Mozart’s Requiem.”
AFA: Do you ever travel with the primary goal to gain inspiration for your art?
JSP: “Yes. For the first time! I just went to Amsterdam to see the Van Gogh museum and see the Netherlands light – it was amazing and I cried in front of several Van Gogh paintings.”
AFA: Have you ever met any celebrities? If so, please tell us about that experience.
JSP: “One of my dear friends from forever is a celebrity actress, but I don’t think that counts. I went to a party with her once and I met Tom Hanks. He was gracious and curious and kind and didn’t make me feel like an industry outsider. He asked about my work and seemed genuinely interested. He was also terrifically funny.”
AFA: What is your favorite family tradition?
JSP: “My entire family goes up to our summer place in Maine in August. No matter what is happening in our crazy lives we find a way to overlap there for a week or so. It’s not just my nuclear family (I have two older brothers who are married with kids) – it’s also my first cousins and second cousins and third cousins and about 60 or 70 of us will be up there at the same time and in various homes. We have a family newspaper, a softball game, and a square dance. Being up there is my favorite place to be.”
AFA: When you approach the canvas do you have an initial concept or do you ever begin painting completely not knowing where you’re headed with it?
JSP: “I often have an initial concept, but it can shift so much as I’m painting. I don’t paint from photographs. I don’t paint from plein air. I paint from my head. So naturally as my head shifts and changes while I’m painting, the image shifts too. But if I’m thinking of painting a river, or trees, or an abstracted water scene I generally stay within those boundaries even as a color, texture, and specifics shift. My watercolors generally shift far less than my oils do throughout the painting process.”
Julia S. Powell’s dog, Ella Fitzgerald, is her harshest critic! Jack Williams from StoryTrender.com wrote a full story on how this pup takes a serious PAWS for thought when staring at her masters’ works. Read the full article HERE.
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