Tuesday, June 7, 2011


this is my pain(when i think of you),
 oil on canvas, 12x12 inches, 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?
I am working on several new paintings that appear more "organic landscape" than figurative, although the sources and processes are the same as my usual work.

Can you describe your working routine?

I try and stay consistent about painting regularly as I've learned that if I am out of the studio for an extended period, I do get out of sorts. Sometimes I like it quiet, often I paint with the radio tuned to NPR as the shows cycle from news to music to news again. More often the music on my ipod is chosen to fit the work I am doing. Lately it's been Little Dragon and Hauschka, but there was a point where I listened only to Spoon GaGaGa.

I work on multiple paintings at a time, even multiple series at a time, and move from one painting to the next in fluid arcs of time. I have a large glass palette which gets very crusted over, so that you can really appreciate the history of color that has evolved over several series of paintings.

My other work (as a psychoanalyst) doesn't feel like a separate existence from my painting, but more like they are woven together somehow- I am an analyst who paints and a painter who does psychoanalysis. I feel each one enhances the other. But because of that work, I am in my office 3 days a week and in the studio the other time (although some days there is an overlap). Oh, and somehow, I also find time to be with my daughter and husband and family and friends.

studio and palette

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

About five years ago we converted our garage into a studio and I was able to shift my schedule so that I can paint at least 3 or 4 days a week in the studio. On those days after I drop my daughter off at school, I come home and check email and spend some time on the computer. When the house empties out, I head to the studio and see where things have been left off from the previous session and then get to work, and try not to think too much.

One of the difficulties I am facing is crowding in the studio. Although I don't paint every day, I work pretty fast when I do paint, and I have had to rent a storage unit because I have run out of room. Also, although having a home studio is really convenient, I am looking forward to a time when I can work in a studio that allows me to paint really large- right now, the biggest canvas I can work on comfortably is maybe 6 feet! Mostly, I work on canvas on various sizes and will trade out the one on the easel (I'm not able to work directly on the wall) but I also work sitting or kneeling on the ground; I like to hold small works on my lap and even walk around the studio and the garden a bit while painting. It's a different experience to paint while walking.

a cluttered studio birth of the spider (on the easel); unfinished giraffe in his cups (leaning)

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

It is very rare for me to start with a conscious idea or concept. That said, I have the feeling that much of the time that I'm out in the world, I'm taking things in that are then going to go into the artwork. Once I wrote: "I receive and hold images, ideas, phrases and lines from books, songs, and world events. I have been thinking of this lately as a virtual Rolodex that I hold unconsciously and it requires time spent in solitude, in a reverie state for the various images to coalesce in some way that makes sense in my work." When I come into the studio, that is the time for not thinking but for being present with the materials and just painting. Later there is a kind of back and forth 'dialogue' between me and the work, and I guess thinking, analyzing, and such goes on at that point.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I love Keats' idea of negative capability- that not everything can be resolved and the more I might try to resolve, the worse the outcome some of the time. So the tension for me is finding a balance of trying, between working and overworking a canvas which can destroy the gestural quality in a painting- it ends up suffocating a painting if I'm not careful. The other trouble for me is over thinking a painting or even over thinking myself, which leaves the work feeling stilted and deadened, do you know what I mean? So I'm wanting to push farther without over thinking or overworking.

studio wall, 2011

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I love trying new things. I have experimented with various additives to paint-wax, marble dust, pumice, even dirt, but now I just stick to oil paint (I don't use chemicals because I'm prone to migraines).I have a table area that I think of as a "laboratory" of sorts where I experiment on paper and very small canvases (3 inches) with paints and tools- nails, screwdrivers, and all sorts of things I have collected over the years. For a while I was playing around with recyclable materials, but my studio became so cluttered with stuff that I had to make a decision to let that go, and to stick to painting. I think if I had started painting earlier in my life, I would try everything! But I feel like there is enough for me to explore just with oil right now.

When I travel, however, I take book pages or I use hotel stationery and draw and paint with water-based media like watercolor pencil and gouache.

always open windows, oil on canvas, 48x48 inches 2011

What does the future hold for this work?

As far as shows go, I have a solo show coming up in August at Bleicher Gallery La Brea in Los Angeles. And with the painting itself, I don't know what the future holds. I just keep painting and the work tends to evolve, often triggered by world events or other inspirations.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
The internet has opened up this incredible community of artists- I have had an opportunity to hear and learn from people all over the world and to see into their studios and processes. Thank you, Valerie, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my process and to open my studio to you!


  1. Wonderfully exciting work, walking that edge of control and letting go. Thank you Julia...

  2. Today, I had the wonderful fortune to visit Julia's studio.

    Here is what I came away with after seeing her artwork in person.

    A wonderful feeling of paint, stroke and touch.

    Participation and involvement with soul and feeling.

    A diving deep into and under the surface.

    A feeling of sadness, loss and the unknown, along with joy, enthusiasm and eagerness.

    The blending of opposites.

    Ideas don’t dominate the painting but inform the painting.

    Great honesty.

    I am deeply convinced and inspired.

  3. Thanks to James Lourie for his always informative opinions.

  4. Wonderful enlightening interview and the work looks so exciting.

  5. thank you for the comments, for taking the time to look and read, and once more to Val for the invitation to participate.

  6. Lovely interview Julia and Val. YOur work is so visceral and evocative it draws me in to want to touch and see where it will lead. Thank you.

  7. Having enough room for a productive artist is always problematic. The fact you are renting a unit, is a good idea. I have noted that in my diary. Thanks for the tip Julia.