Featured Artist: Julia Werts

Featured Artist: Julia Werts

May 2019 Featured Artist - Julia Werts
Featured Artist: Julia Werts

This month’s featured artist is Julia Werts! Julia consistently blows us away with her beautiful celestial compositions and relevant pop culture subjects. Take a peak behind the scenes and read all about her below. Do yourself a huge favor and follow her on social media for daily inspiration. Purchase some of her art by visiting her website.

Website: https://www.thepaintboxletters.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thepaintboxletters
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thepaintboxletters
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/paintboxletters

From Julia: "My name is Julia Werts, and I’m an artist, wife, mother of three, and a small-business owner based in Pittsburgh, PA. I work primarily with ink and watercolor to create galaxy paintings inside silhouettes. I have always loved the silhouette or shape of things and how visually, simplified versions of things have the ability to convey so much information. I am also a pop culture lover, so many of my paintings play with the silhouettes of some of our favorite pop culture icons!"

Q: When and how did you start out as an artist?

A: Like most artists, I’ve been a maker for as long as I can remember, but other things in my life always seemed to take priority. When I was younger, it was school, and as I was finishing up grad school, my oldest kids (twins) were born. It wasn’t until my youngest started school that I really started to dedicate time to painting.

Q: Who are some artists that inspired your work?

A: My biggest inspiration is my mother, who is also an artist. Growing up, I watched her make all kinds of beautiful things—painting gourds, creating macramé plant holders, crocheting doilies, burning beautiful designs on leather. It wasn’t until she was in her late 50s that she finally found the thing she loved most, and now she’s quite an accomplished traditional Korean ink painter and calligrapher. She’s the reason why I decided to learn calligraphy and hand-lettering, which led me to watercolors and painting. I’m also inspired daily by other artists and creators I’ve met through the artist community on Instagram.

Q: Can you describe your painting style and why you pursue it?

A: I love galaxy style paintings because they’re just lovely to look at, and that’s the primary reason why I was so adamant to learn how to make them myself! I also really love the contrast between galaxy paintings and line drawings, so I often combine the two.

Q: What is your dream project?

A: My dream project would be to work on a mural-type piece that includes floral line drawings and a large galaxy sky, although I’m not sure that I have the confidence or the skills at this point in my art-making to take something like this! Perhaps someday…

Q: What is your preferred medium to work with?

A: I love working with both ink and watercolor for the same, yet entirely different reasons! I love the unpredictability of both ink and watercolor when working wet on wet and the control I have to exercise when combining colors, particularly in small spaces, but at the same time, I enjoy ink because although unpredictable, the different colored inks react pretty uniformly to each other. On the other hand, the different pigments, powders, and binders used to create watercolors makes each one react differently when it comes in contact with other wet watercolors. It’s fascinating to watch how the various pigments blend with one another.

Q: Can you describe your creative process?

A: As a lover of popular culture, I have an endless list of things I love that I would love to “galaxify”! Once I decide what to paint, I spend time looking online at photos of the character or scene because not all silhouettes/shapes are created equal. I’ve created many paintings that are iconic poses, but once all the details are stripped away, the silhouette/shape of the person just doesn’t look so great. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to get to the point where I can tell if a shape will work before I actually create the painting. Next is choosing colors, and sometimes, I know immediately what colors I want to use. Other times, I probably spend as much time testing colors to make sure they will blend well as I spend actually painting the piece.

Q: Have you always wanted to turn your creative passion into a career? What made you go for it?

A: When I first started, it really just began as a hobby. I didn’t think that I would actually make any money from it. Then, when people (through Instagram) asked to purchase pieces, I considered it a way of paying for more art supplies! Gradually, the business side of my painting grew—through selling prints and stickers—so my artwork has become a full time job, which I am incredibly grateful for!

Q: What road blocks (if any) did you overcome to get to where you are now?

A: The biggest hurdle was getting started. It wasn’t the doodling and playing around with paint because I could do that whenever, but really turning the corner and deciding that I want to really do this was difficult for me. I started my Instagram account as a way to hold myself accountable, and it worked! The support of others who are learning and creating, who may be farther along the process than I am also really helped.

Q: What one piece of advice would you offer to an artist just starting out?

A: Practice, practice, practice! It takes hours and hours and countless failed projects to get to the point where you feel like things are actually coming together. And unless you put that pencil/pen/paintbrush to paper and try a million times to see what works and what doesn’t work FIRST HAND, you’ll never really know.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A: I get wonderful advice from friends in the art community on a daily basis, whether it’s for a piece I’m working on or a few words of encouragement. But the absolute best advice I’ve received is to create what I love, even on the business side of things. In the past, I’ve taken on commissions that I haven’t felt great about or wasn’t excited to work on, and those are the hardest things to make. That pressure and stress seeps into so many aspects of my creative process, so I’ve become a bit more selective about commissions that I will take on.

Q: What are some of your favorite Royal & Langnickel brushes?

A: I love working with the Zen Series 83 brushes for watercolor. The bristles are incredibly absorbent, and they hold their shape very well. I tend to work with smaller brushes, even for larger pieces, so they definitely get a lot of use. Also, I’m guilty of leaving my brushes sitting in water for longer than they should, so the metal handles are very helpful! Plus, the brushes are very affordable, so they’re my #1 recommendation for people who are starting out.

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