Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Conversation With Julianne Richards

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

threatened. It is an unfortunate, and therefore delicate, part of some of the so -called “artistic temperament.” That said, I love Filomena Booth's work. Casey Kahn's pastels-really beautiful.

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.


~Babs said...

What an interesting interview, Kim!
A musician! That's very exciting!
And so is being in NYC. I'm sure the art scene and opportunities there are mind blowing.
I love the black and white painting here,,,I see a nude.
Two other favorites are the second, and the last. Really nice composition,,,,and of course I love the brilliant color! That second painting gives the feel of being in her studio.
All the best to you in 'the quest' Julianne, and again, very nice interview Kim!

Andrea and Kim said...

Hi Babs! Yes, I think Julianne has some opportunities in NYC many of us do not have in other parts of the US. She has quite a way with color and composition, doesn't she? Maybe it is because I have known she has a strong music background, but I always see so much of that in her paintings.

Thanks for visiting, Babs!

Lynette said...

Bravo Kim, for a very exciting interview with Julianne! She definitely has a way with color and composition! I can see her musical talent influencing some of those pieces because they remind me of delicate windchimes...lovely artistic talent and a fascinating interview! Thanks so much!

Paula In Pinetop said...

Great interview. I came away with a lot of personal insight into my own process.


Andrea and Kim said...

Hi Lynette, I am glad you like the interview. Julianne has quite a way with the paint. I keep seeing music bars in her work! Isn't that interesting we both see the music, but in different ways.

Thanks for visiting, Lynnette!

Andrea and Kim said...

Hello Paula! Thanks for stopping by. Well, I consider the interview a success, then, if you feel you have walked away with something relevant to your own work!

Thanks Again!

San said...

Thank you, Kim, for another informative interview. How exciting to look at Julianne's fluidly beautiful paintings, while reading her words about art as meditation. She has captured some lovely moments from deep within her Self.

And you captured some ideas for us to ponder with regard to our own art.

Great job!

Andrea and Kim said...

Thank you, San! I am glad you liked this conversation with Julianne. Your thoughts on what goes on here are very much appreciated. When I stop helping other artist see their own art in a different way and stop helping viewers of art understand what the artist really does, then I will stop doing this. Your comments help me know if I am on track or not.

Unknown said...

Dear Kim and Julianne!
I finally got around to take some time, my early morning energy drink:) and settle down to read this great interesting interview. I liked reading about Juliannes path, and about her very own process when painting. Thanks Julianne for sharing this in such a generous way. While reading the description of how you begin, a little movie was playing in my head, I watched you going from canvas to canvas in your studio:)
You have already found a very individual way of expressing yourself, and it looks as if you enjoyed the process!
Kim, thanks for asking all these interesting questions and for setting this up, Julianne, thanks for sharing your views with us and good luck for all your future artistic projects, and: you, your path and your art are very inspiring.

Andrea and Kim said...

Hi Andrea, I am so glad you enjoyed reading the conversation I had with Julianne. It is lovely to be able to understand different artist's paths and their goals. Even when they are different from our own, I think we can learn something for ourselves from them.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

fiona long said...

Thank you both so much for this wonderful in-depth interview! Your paintings are wonderful and it's so interesting to hear how you've progressed. Excellent stuff!

Andrea and Kim said...

Ah Fiona, thank you so much to take the time out of your very busy days to come visit!

I am glad you liked the conversation. I loved the painting on your blog and to be honored with such a special award.

Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful interview! I just love her art!!! It's funny how music can often inspire artist's to begin painting. That is what happened with me as well but I just kept painting and only sing in the Church choir. Anyway, wonderful interview! :)

Andrea and Kim said...

Hello Angela,

I am glad you enjoyed the interview with Julianne. It is interesting how much music plays a part in visual art, you are right. In the case of Julianne, it was her need to move away from it which pushed her to painting. However there is so much music still in her work, I believe.

Thank you for visiting.

Andrea and Kim said...

A reader has contacted me via email saying they were not able to comment here. This is what they wanted to post:




And this is my response to Cisco:

I am glad you liked the interview. Julianne is an amazing artist, to be sure. I would love to think this interview was in a magazine or there was some form of published hard copy, but there is not. If you know of anyone who would like to publish it, let me know! :) It was a real pleasure to work with Julianne on this.

I hope you will visit me again. And I am trying to settle this issue.

colorspeaker said...

Hello Kim and everyone who commented, or even just read this interview. I want to say a special thankyou to Kim for pushing me to do this, and after finishing it, I ended up finding it extremely cathartic, as I had to put into words what I actully thought about myself, particularly as an artist. Your questions helped me understand my artistic process a bit better than perhaps I would have known. And for that, you once again, have shed a bit of light on the path of my creativity. Thank you Kim, for knowing just how to do it.
Glad I know you.

Andrea and Kim said...

Ah, thank you Julianne! I can assure you the pleasure was all mine. It was indeed an honor to work with you. And remember, you also pushed me to take on the interviews. Thank You!

I think we all help each other's creativity along....just look at the wonderful, creative people who visit me here offering up such lovely thoughts.

Thanks Again!

Filomena Booth said...

Thank you Kim and Julianne for an excellent interview into the psyche of an artist! I know how difficult it is to describe the artistic path each artist chooses, but Julianne did an excellent job!

Thank you also for mentioning me as one of your "mentors". I am very honored.


Andrea and Kim said...

Thank you Filomena! It is lovely to do these conversations.

I hope you will visit again.


Anonymous said...

Julianne's lense on life is one of poetry and emotional truth. I believe that her voice as an artist is powerful enough to crack the code of any medium she chooses.