Julia Schwartz on painting

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“I think of these as ‘states of being’ paintings rather than self-portraits, the artist being immersed in a state of being that shines through the work, whether there are recognizable figurative elements or not.  Is it a state of mind? A state of being or way of being is not necessarily a state of mind. They are how we find ourselves and show ourselves- as mothers, fathers, women, men, artists, survivors, and humans above all else.” ~ Julia Schwartz

Julia Schwartz on colour, paint and painting

Julia Schwartz; colour, paint and painting

“I am primarily an oil painter. I use a lot of Gamblin paints, an occasional Sennelier, and Williamsburg paints are really great: just the names make me happy- German Earth, Graphite Gray, Turkey Umber! There is a set of colors that I use on a regular basis but it has evolved over time; lately it includes ultramarine, raw and burnt umber, titanium white, cad yellow, vermillion and French vermillion, violet, turquoise, and a variety of yellow greens- I’m trying all different brands now, and trying to find just the right one. I do a lot by a multi-sensory approach- if it squeezes easily out of the tube and looks luscious and creamy, and doesn’t have a strong odor, I am likely to buy it again. I have a tube of English Red that is just moldering in the drawer because the smell is so strong.
I use a large glass palette that gets very crusted over, so that you can appreciate the history of color that has evolved over several paintings.

One thing I love about facebook and painting blogs is reading what other people use. I try and remember when I get to the store, but often times I’ll stand there scrolling through posts trying to find a particular conversation about color.

I love working on linen but it‘s a luxury so generally I work on canvas. For a brief period I tried to stretch my own surfaces and that made for some very un- or de-constructed paintings, so I have someone do them for me and it is worth it. Materials have a big impact on me: primed linen makes me want to paint with a more delicate touch, for instance. In the beginning I added things to my paint- dust, wax, concrete, things for texture- but I didn’t like the hardened plastic-y aftermath, so for years now it’s just paint.

I confess I am just awful with my brushes. I have a range from some mid-quality brushes to super-cheap. I prefer synthetic. Again, it’s a feel thing for me- sometimes you need a soft smooth brush and sometimes wiry, it all depends. I also use sticks and fingers.

I tend to start a painting without any (conscious) intention although there is a wellspring of images, dreams, lyrics, colors, and so on that are available and accessible- I’ve referred to it as a virtual rolodex. Early on, all sorts of possibilities are there and the painting emerges out of a kind of conversation between me and the canvas. As things proceed, however, some decisions are made- editing, colors shifting, scrapes, shapes, mark-making. Some doors have to close in order for a painting to settle, although there is generally a lot of space for open interpretation even with a finished painting.

I have a secondary practice on paper, now mostly gouache and ink on Yupo paper. A couple of years ago I got sick- too sick to paint in the studio, but after a while of lying on the couch watching Netflix, I couldn’t stand it and I started making little gouache paintings at the coffee table. First I painted over business cards, then over old show invitations, and then on Yupo paper. I referred to that as the ‘night studio’ although it’s a bit of a misnomer since I paint there at all hours. With gouache, I use Winsor & Newton and Schmincke for the most part. The gouache painting is more meditative- more about repetitive mark-making, a calming down at the end of the day, but it is a continually evolving practice that is distinct, and as essential as my other painting is for me.” ~ Julia Schwartz

Julia work was recently featured in Shed Skin at LA City College. She will be showing at Bushwick Open Studios in May-June. Julia is the arts editor for Figure Ground Communication

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