Julianne Richards is an extraordinary artist living in New York City. Her range of interests is varied and she draws on these interests for her paintings. She is known as The Colorspeaker. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Julianne and her art through this lively conversation, then visit her web site
K: Hello Julianne,
K: I know you have a background in music. Will you tell us a little about that first?
JR: I began playing guitar at seventeen and spent much of my teens and early twenties touring, making records, and playing in bands. Then, I decided to go solo and moved to NYC and signed with Geffen Records and made a solo record with them…this is all before painting found me! I never even thought about another “full time” creative career, until…hmmm. Until, I just hit a wall with the music business, and anther unreleased album…So, I was rather lost and down and uncertain of what I wanted to do for the first time in a quite a while.
Then, one day, a friend stopped by, and he had found a paint brush, and two tubes of paint, one black and one blue. He gave them to me, partly joking… I never stopped painting, though.
K: How long have you been painting?
JR: That was about six years ago. The last two years have been the most aggressive, in terms of development, and getting completely involved with the internet, and creating a presence there….
K: I can see some influence of your music in your paintings. Do you feel there is a strong influence there?
JR: Well, in terms of certain things, like finding one’s own signature style, are, I have found, it is most definitely related. And this is probably so with all of the arts…When you dedicate oneself utterly 100%, you discover things about the process of creation itself, but also, even more intense personal things , such as where your essence of who you really are is within the work you are creating…music will always be a part of my being, and the merge into visual artistic expression has made me see things in hindsight in regards to my musical journey that I wasn‘t aware of back then…but lately I feel fortunate to have had both, and that I see now see them as assets to each other.
K: In what way?
JR: Style development is the first thing that keeps coming up...
K: What mediums do you prefer using?
JR: Well, at the present time I am using acrylics and mediums to mix with them. I am very into interference and iridescent paints. My work is mostly on canvas now and growing steadily larger in size, 30”x40”, 36”x 48” and upward.
K: Do you use different ones for different stages in your painting process?
JR: I was experimenting with just about everything last year, oil pastels became a part of even my larger pieces. However, one of my influences (an artist I admire greatly) suggested I settle down to something specific and get it down, because I wasn’t that happy, I was really just searching…and for me having my own developed sense of style is the ground work for me to then build upon, and that is very intertwined with my personal sense of self as well. For me, the two are inextricably linked.
K: What is your process?
JR: Lately, in the process of discovering a style, I have begun working in stages, and slowing down considerably. I start with a color usually mixed with another interference or an iridescent acrylic. Then, I use a water soaked wide flat brush and this mixture, and paint my entire canvas, or sometimes paper, thoroughly, often taking a sponge to soak up any additional run off and sort of sponging my back round until the canvas takes most of it. After that, I take it, lay it on the floor and put a fan on it for bit…Often, I will be working on several pieces at a time, all at different stages. I will do this process of laying down and different mixes of colors and /or mediums and some imagery , then stopping; Let them dry, all the while this allows me to keep passing through the room and observing them, often at different angles, before I begin the next step in the creating of the piece. This is not a rigid or steadfast method, as I sometimes move through a piece with less pausing to observe, and, in those cases, I often have created some of my best work. It just depends.
Overall, however, through slowing down, I have found a natural insight into knowing when the painting is finished, and /or not doing what I feel emotionally, which transfers into busy, overly painted pieces; Thus leaving me emotionally linked to a painting which leaves me looking at the visual version of how I feel. By forcing myself to stop, and let each layer dry, I am changing it (the way I create) into something very much like a meditative exercise. I am literally working out where I am at emotionally inside, and through this “practice” of pacing of myself, and stepping back frequently, I am gaining control over my thoughts, and often, I will find something very specific (when the painting is done) that I was remembering and working it out….this has been a recent realization. And unique in that, I really did not know just how profoundly powerful the sub-conscious is, in regards to the creation of art. It is on the paintings where I have had these experiences that I have become intensely aware of just how much is stored up in our memories, dreams, and even in the present…
Visual art, perhaps in conjunction with, or even more so than my musical path, has really made me conscious of its communicative and expressive nature, and the endless possibilities its use in such a way…. It is different for everyone, I am sure,
Yet, for me, it has definitely awakened its transcendent possibilities….
K: What inspires you…other than music?
JR: Other artists, without a doubt. Particularly when I began, and though not as much as it used to, taking the time to get out of my own head, and its seemingly constant nagging need to create, and just totally immersing myself in another artist process, whether it be writing, poetry, music, or a visual format, is, for me,
an important, and sometimes forgotten, part of simply enjoying art in its most basic format, for the simple, yet necessary sheer joy of it.
K: What has helped you find your voice?
JR: Growing up! And a relentless, on-going search for purity…It is something I struggled with a great deal when I was younger, really, until a few years ago. I had this obsession with art and purity-and I really got lost for a while with these conflicting philosophical views, such as the only "true art" could only be from an artist who never new fame or fortune of any kind while they were alive. They wrote only because it was all they could do, and then, decades later, we declared them "monumental" in terms of their contribution to literature, painting, etc.
I had to move away from that because it really is just my mind," busy, busy busy."
So, when such thinking starts, I do get busy, but with a paint brush.
K: Tell us what you studio is like? What can you not live without in your studio?
JR: I couldn't live without my studio! I live in a railroad apartment (three rooms in a long narrow row) in NYC’s downtown East Village… I built a 7 foot loft and I work underneath, it is a room in the back and the loft takes up nearly the whole room. I have my large floor standing easel, and then my smaller table top easel. However, my entire apartment is canvases everywhere. The kitchen is full of them, paint brushes and buckets of water in the sink, on the shelves, even
Next to the computer! And then there is the whole computer and the system I have set up, which is directly related to the uploading of my work on-line-That is really another story. I have two computers, a Mac and a PC, and there still seems like I always need more memory, or power, always something...
K: What are the greatest challenges with your work?
JR: Slowing down. But I would have to say it is the business part of my work that constantly struggle with…I know that if I am going to post it on line and take offers to sell it that it comes with the territory, but I really struggle with being “all business.”
Art and commerce just, for me, don't mix. As a working songwriter, I had all these "people" who were
Supposed to handle all these “things that I really loathed“. And then I realized how I had to come to terms with it myself, because now matter how much money you make, the responsibilities, and the lifestyle of having managers, or whatever, is, for me, not far the very thing I was trying to pay my way out of…and it is the money is still running the show.
K: Talk about how you work through your commissions.
JR: I have only done three, and I am working on my third.
They have been a learning experience, and I am open to do them, but I can only really base my experiences with them on clients who I discovered, after I was asked to do a large piece in the clients chosen colors, that working with someone and trying to give them something that they do not know how to translate to you, Is a challenge, to say the least. However, I think, that getting better, more confident, and becoming more secure in the aforementioned part of business and creative decisions will probably will make a world of difference.
K: Is there a person/artist who is/has been influential in your paintings?
JR: Well, yes of course. Obviously, all artists are different in that I am one who does not get concerned when someone likes my work and expresses it, or even if they ask me specifics about my methods which I have discovered is what artists seem to call "their creative secrets."
I just don't think about it. But other artists, and I found this to be true in most creative circles, do get
I think Nancy Deckles is talented. Filomena's work has really moved me, and I am happy to say she knows it and has been genuine in her response to my telling her...and Casey and I stay in touch via internet…Amazing how much the cyber connection has made a whole new world of opportunities, for all kinds of art, and just about anything else as well..
K: Do you like writing about your art?
JR: I do now. I think it is much more linked with my psyche and therefore the title of the work comes to me before the painting Is even finished. That helps.
K: Do you think writing about your work (publically or privately) makes a difference in the results?
JR: I try not to think about the public part. Of course, there are always things we should or shouldn't say, but
I am a rather (yes even brutal) overly honest person, especially in regards to artwork. It used to get me into trouble when I was much younger. Ha-ha….
K: Are there other visual art forms you are attracted to?
JR: There is not much creatively that doesn't at least make me pause...
K: Where do you see your art going from here?
JR: Forward would be nice...
Thank you so much, Julianne, for taking the time to talk with us today. It has been a real pleasure to have this conversation and see your work. We all have so much to learn from each other and you have shared a lot with us today. I wish you the very best with your future projects.