Julie Mai - Featured Artist for July 2009

Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?

That’s like asking me which of my children are my favorite. I love them all for their unique characteristics. Right now I love my oils, they give me lots of open time to sink into the process. I love my acrylics because I can build up lots of layers of glazing quickly. And I love encaustic because it feels like a journey into the unknown.

With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection?

I am totally into Dave Simons work right now. He is a Canadian artist living and working in Arizona.

What is it that draws you to them?

I love his tonal control/expression and the abstract way he portrays representational work.This is a direction I am curently exploring.

Which particular processes or techniques of art-making interest you now?

Every time I paint I feel like a child, I love watching a painting emerge. I hope painting never loses this magic.

What particular technical challenges in art-making do you face at this time?

I don’t look at them as challenges, as that suggest it is something to overcome, and I'm not sure how much arm twisting an artist should do. Rather, I like to consider them areas of focus.  That would be in my tonal and brushwork.

What in your artistic training do you value most in your work at this time?

My value study. Taught to me by a great artist Brian Simons: http://artistbriansimons.blogspot.com/

How much of a role do accident and control play in your work?

Like all good Germans I have a lot of structure in my work. That then gives me the “permission” I need to loosen up. But I can imagine a future when I give control up more and more. But like any discipline you need to understand the rules before you break them.

What are some of your artistic challenges at present?

I feel pretty balanced right now. When I get out of whack, for instance like being too connected to the outcome, I will deliberately do an exercise in reckless abandonment. Life is all about the balance.

What are some of your artistic accomplishments at present?

Having the courage to paint unabashedly, and not to judge the outcome but rather reflect, enjoy, learn and share.

Can you share 3 things you’ve learned as an artist through your own art?

Well I am primarily self taught, so I guess that would mean everything!! But here are three. I am always surprised by what people like, so I paint what I want as people are unpredictable. Suspend all judgment until it feels complete. When I get restless with a piece it is time to stop, or it is complete.

When you need inspiration, how to do get it?

I don’t right now. I feel I have a lifetime of paintings in me, and I can’t imagine ever needing inspiration. I think artists by nature are curious people, and inspiration is a byproduct of curiosity.

When you need to learn more as an artist, how do you do it?

I search out the information I need, then I get disciplined (a great skill my father taught me) focus, and practice, practice, practice.

What is it about this artwork (self-selected work shown) that led you to choose it for this feature?

It is what I am currently working on. I love Vancouver; it is a subject matter that may take me awhile (if ever) to exhaust.

Thank you.