Crisp wintery weather, rolling hills, and autumn colors galore; a beautiful drive through the British countryside takes me to Wolverhampton, where I am about to meet artist Julie Edwards. Yet not before my self-esteem suffered while circling the round-a-bout three times until I clue in from which direction cars appear, and where I need to exit. Indeed, driving on the “wrong” side of the road takes some getting used to, especially after a long flight from San Francisco to London, UK.
Julie meets me at the door of the Eagle Works Gallery: a three-story semi-derelict Victorian industrial building, providing studio space for some 18 local, emerging and established artists. Eagle Works exists since 1987 and Julie has been part of this select group for over 20 years. After an enthusiastic welcome, she walks me up, via narrow hallways and steep stone stairs, until we arrive at her warm and cozy studio. It strikes me every time I enter an artist’s space, but most certainly in Julie’s case: the artwork I only saw on pictures until then, is strikingly more exquisite in the flesh. Julie’s work is stunning and captivating.
Artwork inspired by nature
Julie introduces herself as a semi-abstract landscape artist whose artwork is very much influenced by the natural world around her. Inspired by places she visited and experienced, images for a new painting will come to her. Julie’s routine is characterized by careful preparations before placing a canvas on the easel. She takes photographs of the location back to her studio for further studies. Literature and other readings, journaling, sketching; this is very much a cognitive process. And when transferring it all onto the canvas, a whole new experience transpires. Layering the paints, the work evolves. Sometimes an emotional response occurs, as Julie can lose herself in the painting. What seems only minutes were in fact hours, as she goes through her own poignant process.
Julie enjoys working with media that resist, like playing with emotions. Pulling, pushing, an ever-changing dynamic. Tangible, at times raw, sometimes ever so soft and subtle; Julie masters and controls the translation. Yet leaving room for the viewer to be part of the conversation, adding their own experiences.
When asked about a favorite work she ever made, Julie doesn’t have to think long before answering. “That would be “Horizons”; a 6 x 4 ft.-painting produced about 10 years ago, which took a long time to create. In fact, several paintings led to the final piece. It is about chapters in my life and making choices. It basically sums up that particular time; me. And although I have no issues parting with my paintings, I am sorry, but this one will never be for sale.”
Born an artist
Julie considers being an artist, a painter, something she cannot help but be. A young girl, at age 10 or 11 she recalls how it was always her painting that was put up for all classmates to see. She was set as an example to others. A very shy girl, she was uncomfortable with all that attention then, yet it never deterred her from her goal; becoming a professional artist. Comfortable in her own skin now, her dream is to be able to work on her art full-time.
Besides being an artist, mom to two boys (16 and 10), and a wife to John, Julie is a part-time art teacher at her local College. Teaching kids 16 and above, Level 2 up to Foundation. Julie finds the teaching to be very rewarding, yet time-consuming, as I am sure all teachers would agree. And although she would absolutely miss the teaching, she would give it up for the benefit of her dream; her professional goal; her purpose: being a full-time artist.