Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oil and watercolor painter Julia Swartz

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Cow Art and More was excited to feature oil and watercolor painter Julia Swartz in August 2009. Julia paints and maintains her own art gallery in southeastern Pennsylvania. She is best known locally for her ability to capture the local Amish community in art form.

Why do you paint?

Because I love to. It's fulfilling to me. I have to paint. It is who I am. I have to be creating one way or another. Right now it is painting on canvas.

How did you get started?

I always drew or painted as a child. I can remember as a child using my Mom's oil paints, she was an artist and painted at home for fun. After I got married, I took painting classes with Jay McVey, a local oil painter. When I had my children, I would draw and paint them as babies and toddlers. When my youngest child went to kindergarten, I started studying more seriously. I joined the local art association and took classes to learn watercolor. I started winning prizes right away so we jumped in the business. We bought some framing equipment, got some prints of my work and started framing and selling my art. We started by going to several local juried art shows and eventually were doing 18 to 20 shows a summer from NY to VA and MI to NJ. After several years of juried art shows we decided to join the arts movement in Lancaster PA and opened a gallery on Gallery Row. See more information at It's been two and one half years in the gallery I am having more fun then ever.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get inspired by everything around me. My kids, grand kids, my flowers, the countryside, animals, etc. Also looking through art magazines, and art galleries and museums.

What is your technique?

My main technique right now is thick textured oil paint on canvas. I use the palette knife to apply the paint and get the texture but I do use paint brushes a little. I say right now because my techniques change as I explore different ways to capture the feeling.

Where did you learn your technique?

I see styles or techniques that I like and I just experiment and try different things till I get it the way I want it.

How do you decide what to paint?

Everywhere I go, I see painting ideas. I keep a list of ideas and always carry a camera to capture ideas. I like to paint a series of paintings , usually ten, that have a theme so every two months I have a new show for my gallery. I'm always thinking what my next few series will be and gathering ideas as I see them.

How long does it take you to get an average painting?

It varies a lot, depending on the detail and size of the painting. There are quick ones that I've done in a day and others that have taken a month. I often tell people " All my life" because it is an accumulation of all the things I've learned since I started painting that go into every painting.

Do you ever have goof ups or work you don’t like?

Sure, once in a while it just doesn't turn out the way I like.

What advice to you have for aspiring painters?

Don't worry about your style. I hear young artist say I've got to find my style. I would recommend that you just keep painting and painting and try different things and eventually your style will emerge. Never throw a painting away. As an artist you tend to be very critical of your own work. You may not like something very much when your done, but just put it in a drawer or put it away somewhere. Months or years later you may get it out and say "Oh, that's not so bad." I really treasure some of my first paintings and am glad I never threw them out.

What would you like to do more of in the future?

I would like to travel more to places like Europe, Italy and etc. to collect more reference material to paint. I would also like to travel to a third world country and paint that culture. So travel would be high on my priority list.

What else do you do besides painting?

Not much, laughing out loud. I love to play with my grand kids and spend time with my kids. I love to ride motorcycle with my husband, always taking my camera along. I love to take care of my flower gardens and decorate my house and redecorate and redecorate.

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