Interview with Artist Julia Lawing
Julia Lawing is an impressionist artist from Concord, NC. I was fortunate enough to discover her work at a local ArtPop show. I have been a fan of her paintings ever since. Within her work there is emotion, but still a sense of tranquility. It calms me. I find her work beautiful. Julia emphasizes light and shadow in her depiction of ordinary subjects. She paints with visible brush stroke and vibrant colors to express emotion. Julia’s work both reflects her talent and is aesthetically pleasing.
It is an honor that Julia is gracious enough to take part in our Q&A session. Before we start, let us learn more about the artist Julia Lawing.
Julia creates contemporary compositions of landscapes, structures, and figures. Her work is characterized by gestural brushmarks, exciting palette-knife work, and reverberating color, and is as much about the interplay of paint and surface as the subject itself.
Julia was continually recognized and awarded for her artistic talent throughout her school years. Born in Atlanta, Julia relocated to St. Simons Island, Georgia, with her family at age 12. The privilege of growing up in such a beautiful location marked her with a love of nature, light, and landscapes forever. Julia earned a BA in Journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (’90), which she supplemented with drawing and art history courses. While employed at Savannah College of Art and Design, and later the Charlotte Observer, she continued pursuing art through night classes in everything from stained glass and woodworking to ceramics and pastels. As a young mother, Julia’s artistic outlets included creating artwork alongside her four daughters, teaching elementary art at their school, and docenting at the Cabarrus County Arts Council. She began oil painting in 2014 under the mentorship of a nationally renowned artist and teacher Andy Braitman. Julia paints and resides in Concord, North Carolina, with her husband Bruce, four teenage daughters, and black Labrador Lincoln, who are constantly forgiving her for not having dinner ready on time, crowding the garage with canvases, and leaving traces of paint everywhere.
The Work of Julia Lawing (click to enlarge).
Please tell us a little about yourself?
I have always drawn but found my true passion when I started oil painting in 2014. I fell in love with the combination of impasto, color mixing, and mark making. I was born in Atlanta and we moved to St. Simons Island, GA, in 1980 (I was 12) where I lived until attending college. Those years of living in the Golden Isles marked me with a love of nature, light, and landscapes forever. At UNC-Chapel Hill, I majored in journalism, but life drawing and art history classes were really what lit a fire in me. While working full time, I took college night classes in anything and everything creative, from woodworking to stained glass to ceramics. When my four daughters were small, I fed my creativity by making art with them, docenting at our local arts council, and teaching art at their elementary school. I took a few workshops here and there, but when I started classes at Braitman Studio, something clicked and I knew I’d found my calling, what I’d been searching for.
Why do you create art?
I create because it feeds my soul to meditate on the true, the good, the beautiful, and then send it back out into the world in my own unique way. My hope is that my work is life-giving and uplifting to viewers. “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts,” Thoreau wrote, and I agree.
What is your current project?
I am currently working on a coastal wildlife series. I grew up on St. Simons Island, GA, and am a lover of nature and the great outdoors.
How do you find inspiration?
It’s not hard. It’s everywhere. I have more ideas than time to paint! Mostly I take photos everywhere, then I go back and paint from them. I also journal a lot while trying to listen to the voice of God. Inspiration is everywhere from the way the light hits the corner of a house to a dramatic sunset over the ocean. I am particularly drawn to people and am working on improving my figurative painting.
What is your favorite piece you’ve created?
Probably a small 10×8 called “All In!” of my daughter and her friend on floats in the lake. Or “Autumn Bike Ride” which is all four of my girls on their bikes, riding one of the trails at the Biltmore in Asheville.
How did you learn your craft?
I have always drawn since I was old enough to hold a crayon. (please see the answer to the first question)
What is the most valuable thing you learned?
It’s never too late to start. I was 45 when I started painting. (I’ll be 50 this Sunday 🙂 And you don’t have to have an art degree to be an artist.
Who are your favorite artists?
I love the Impressionists and the Fauves; John Singer Sargent, Sorolla; Van Gogh, Gauguin, Fairfield Porter, Winslow Homer, Andy Braitman; Hopper, David Hockney, Connie Hayes, Dan McCaw, Kevin MacPherson…. I could go on!
What is your favorite piece by another artist?
Do you have any future projects that excite you?
I have a lot of ideas for new series. That excites me, but it’s also hard for me to stick to one thing, so I tend to jump around.
In closing, do you have any advice for young artists?
Keep drawing, painting, photographing, looking. Don’t stop. Even if you’re at a place in life where you can’t take the time to create in the way you really want to, you can still cultivate creativity in your everyday life. The more you feed it, the more it grows. All of your life experiences feed your art. As Andy Braitman says, YOU are the art.
Julia Lawings Upcoming Exhibits
- ArtPop Artist Pop-Up Gallery, Le Meridan Hotel, Charlotte, NC. – September 2018
- Cabarrus Country Club, Solo Exhibit, Concord, NC. – September 2018
- Center for Creative Leadership, Group Show, Greensboro, NC. – December 2018
- Jekyll Island Ars Association, Jekyll Island GA. – June 2019
All photographs by permission of Julia Lawing.