Speaker 1 (00:00):
You have to decide what kind of artist are you?
Speaker 2 (00:03):
This is the Bold Artist Podcast.
Speaker 3 (00:08):
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important, and it needs to be seen.
Speaker 2 (00:16):
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode. Today's show is part one of a two-part interview. So be sure to check out next week for the continuation. Welcome to the Bold Artist Podcast. Today I am so delighted to introduce you to Julia Veenstra, who is an artist that I personally have been following for a long time. Julia, welcome to the show.
Speaker 1 (00:49):
Thank you so much, Marijanel, and following me for such a long time. That's wonderful.
Speaker 2 (00:53):
Yes. Well, do you remember the first time we met Julia? Do you remember that?
Speaker 1 (00:58):
You said, you said we met in person.
Speaker 2 (01:01):
We did. Do you remember being at art Vancouver? And it would've probably been about seven years ago if I'm remembering correctly.
Speaker 1 (01:11):
I do remember. It was a, it was a beautifully located show, and it was wonderful.
Speaker 2 (01:17):
Yes. So that would've been the show that you and I first got to know each other. I visited your booth. I was smitten with both you and your work, and you are one of those people that immediately make other people feel comfortable in your presence. I felt so comfortable with you. I was also taken by your brushstrokes. I have to say, I am a big fan of your brushstrokes. I can't figure them I'm out, Julia. I look at your work. I'm mesmerized. I think how did she do that? And I just kind of look and that, that, um, draw of your brushstroke and who you are as a person, just brings me into your work and wanting to know more about you. So, can we start out by hearing a little more about you, Julia?
Speaker 1 (02:06):
Sure. So, um, I'm Julia, and I am an artist, and a mom, and a wife, and a friend, you know, and all the other things that go along with being, um, a woman. And I was one of those little kids, um, that was identified, you know, in grade three. Did you know that that Julia can draw? Did you know that she could paint? And loved every expression of, uh, drawing and painting and I'd win all the awards in, you know, grade eight art awards and the high school art awards. And, and I took all the art courses that I possibly can -- could. And then I went to Sheridan College, and I took illustration. But you know, you go from being the one that wins all the awards in your high school to being in a class of 300, who also won all the awards in their high schools.
Speaker 1 (03:02):
So, it became a different, um, challenge. And, and it was so awesome because yeah, now you're challenged. Now, now there's things to learn and things to see and, and to, and to be able to grow. And then when I graduated, shared in college, I, I got a job in a book publishing house, but this is a little bit, uh, you know, it's, it's a personal, uh, what's the word... Confession. I am the worst employee, the worst employee. I did not like going to work at nine o'clock. I did not like having to stay there till five. I, um, and that, that is not how I saw things playing out. So, uh, when we had our first child, I embraced the stay at home, uh, mom thing. And then we went on to have four more children. And, uh, those are my biggest and creative, uh, works, and while I was raising my kids,
Speaker 1 (04:01):
I did practice, uh, my art. I always had to do a little bit, but I only really worked when I had a commission. 'Cuz I just didn't have time to be, you know, an in studio artist who painted. And um, so I, I really practiced when my kids, uh, when I had a commission when I was gonna be paid for it. When my children started going to school, though, when the baby finally got into kindergarten, I did, uh, start working at my dining room table. I started creating, I, I created a line of home decor that was in, uh, local stores and that went really well. And I started doing all of the little, um, little shows and, and different things around, and it was absolutely marvelous. And then my husband said, Hey, let's, let's move to Africa. And I was like, oh, I'm just getting known for a few things here, but how can you, how can you not move to Africa? It was, it was wonderful.
Speaker 1 (05:02):
So, we spent four years in Tanzania four, uh, a year in Kenya. And while I was there, I actually found that I could paint a lot more. I homeschooled, uh, my kids., Three of my, my oldest three, they went off to an international school, and um, I homeschooled the youngest two, but I also had lots of time in the afternoon to start painting. So, back then, interestingly, I'm known now for landscape, but back then I was purely figurative and the people of Africa were, oh, they were so beautiful to paint and the expressions. And we lived in Tanzania where, uh, the dress was very traditional and colorful and totally suited my needs because the, the Tanza loved color. So, I would paint, I would paint market scenes, and I would paint the women, you know, holding their baskets and it was gorgeous. Then we moved back to Canada, and I didn't really have a market for, for African art.
Speaker 1 (06:03):
Interesting. Interestingly, um, I did have that in Tanzania, 'cuz there was a lot of, um, people that actually wanted original artwork there. So, it was really great. Excuse me, excuse me. And um, but when I got back to Canada, it was a natural transition into landscape because I'd gone from this dry, dusty land where the people were colorful to back to Canada, especially Ontario, where everything was a riot of color. Spring was gorgeous. Fall was gorgeous. Winter, um, as much as you know, I, I didn't really miss winter. It was gorgeous. And I trans, I transferred my painting from figurative into landscape and slowly, slowly, I got my voice there. And there's a few pivotal moments where, you know, I painted a certain painting and the response was so overwhelming. And of course, we are all conditioned to respond well to praise. So, as I got more praise, and as I got more, wow, that's great.
Speaker 1 (07:13):
Can you do that for me? I started moving in that direction and you said, my, my paintings are colorful. I've always been colorful in, in college. I was told I was too colorful and it isn't that interesting in, in college, not just high school, but in college I was told I was too colorful, but I kept it, and now it's my trademark. So, so over the years it's just developed into a wonderful landscape practice. I do every once in a while, go back, you know, to figurative when I'm drawn to something and, and just need to paint something different. And I, um, I'll paint animals sometimes, and it's been great. And now I have, um, I had a gallery for almost nine years in my city, and when COVID hit, I moved home and um, where I'm sitting, you're, if you're listening, you can't see the studio, but where I'm sitting is, is an old shed that we, uh, renovated. And I now work out here. It's great. 'Cuz I can just pad outside with my cup of coffee and, and work all day. And it's, it's really marvelous. And nowadays of course my children are grown and starting to give me grandchildren. So, I don't have to make lunches and clean up at three o'clock when they come home.
Speaker 2 (08:32):
Yes. Thank you so much for giving us that inside peek into your world. And I hear so much there, Julia, that I can, can't way to unpack a little bit more with you, but before I do, can you give us a quick snapshot of what life in the studio looks like for you right now? What are you working on? What's going on in just your art business and, and the day to day of what Julia's doing in art?
Speaker 1 (09:00):
So, the day to day can be actually quite busy, and my day can be filled with interruptions, and um, my day can be filled with, uh, all day painting, but also, uh, solving a problem or meeting a need or meeting a client. So, even today I was out the door this morning. Um, we're selling a house tonight or this weekend, and I was staging at eight thirty in the morning. And then I was at the print studio, making sure everything was all set up there for my daughter who does my shipping, 'cuz she's shipping, you know, a lot of orders today. Uh, so, so that was a lot of prep yesterday, making sure that all the paintings were there and labeled and that she knew exactly. And then I met a client this morning already, and they picked up a piece, and then I prepared to talk to you. But in the meantime I was embellishing prints and just trying to get everything done. My kids are coming from Kelowna tonight. So, I'm on vacation mode as soon as five o'clock hits today. And that'll be, that'll be very nice, but there's a lot of prep getting ready for vacation.
Speaker 2 (10:13):
So, it sounds like to me, that in, in your art business, you are not only painting originals. Are you still taking commissions? And then also you're, you're selling a lot, a lot of prints and prints that you embellish. You seem to have quite the workflow. You've developed quite a business out of your art
Speaker 1 (10:34):
Business. The business aspect for me is as creative and fun as the actual creating. However, don't get me wrong. If I'm, if I end up doing too much business, I will get very anxious, and, and a little short with the people that I love. I definitely need the time in my studio just to paint to release all that energy and creativity. But I do. I developed a line of prints. Um, I have, uh, an online art show that I run. And I've now developed a company called Art Label that helps, um, established artists create their own line of prints.
Speaker 2 (11:18):
Wow. I love to hear the creativity that you have in all aspects. And I can actually relate to, um, being flowing in both my, my left and right side of my brain, that whole, uh, business side and the creative side. And I do need the creative to be an outlet of expression. I can't have, I can't be imbalanced.
Speaker 1 (11:38):
Speaker 2 (11:38):
I need to come back to that, that state of flow and just be in the creative zone for a while. So, I definitely re, relate to that. Julia, I heard you say when you were sharing more about yourself, you, you talked about, um, the praise that people, uh, gave you when you were beginning to make that slow move into landscape. And they, they saw something in your landscape work and praised, you know, praised you and brought it out of you. Can you tell me a little bit about that, of how that transition, um, was and what people saw in you that helped bring out landscape?
Speaker 1 (12:17):
Absolutely. So when I first got back from Tanzania, it would've been almost 15 or 16 years now. I had never really developed, you know, a studio practice. I didn't have a studio at the time. And I was painting all sorts of different things. I was doing watercolor, I was doing florals. I was doing, and I was presenting all of it at different little shows that I was just starting to explore. And people thought it was a group show, to be honest, because, you know, just, I, I just thought that I should show everything I did and how impressive was that. And it's not really all that impressive. You need to actually be able to, to tighten down to a body of work. It's fine to do different things, but not all at the same, present them all at the same time. So, I remember I did a little show, I'm in Ontario and I did a little show in Kingston where I did this. I brought everything.
Speaker 1 (13:15):
And there was one little tree painting that I had done, and the client came to me and said, I would like this, but I would like it 36 by 60. And I was like, okay, well sure. I can do that. And I did it, and I was so excited because she paid up front and I was like, Woohoo, this is great. And I painted it, and she was so happy. And by that time I had had a little studio that I was renting, um, in Hamilton that was on the art crawl, and people were coming in, consistently, uh, into my studio and saw the piece and just kind of went crazy about it. And I was like, okay. So, um, I wanted to do this as my full-time job. I had a part-time job, uh, run, organizing festivals and I wanted to quit. And I needed to know, and now I call them, uh, my grocery money paintings.
Speaker 1 (14:18):
So now I need, I needed to know what would be a good seller. And of course when you're, when you're praised and rewarded like that, you just continue to do it. And it developed into, um, the style that I do now. And, and a little bit later, even a couple of years later, there was a, a pivotal painting that I, I tried something, and it's called Autumn Reaching. And if you ever wanna look it up in on my, and I tried something really different and wow, the response. And again, I must be the type of person where words of encouragement are my, you know, love language. And I just responded to it. Wow. If you like that, let me do this. And if, watch what I can do. And it just, and because I was working in my studio for five or six hours a day painting, and, and I'm fast. I, I'm prolific, and I'm fast. It was so much fun to create these works and to just explore it, that it really did develop, you know, into my style and something that I'm recognized even now for,
Speaker 2 (15:32):
I love hearing that that small little tree painting has grown, such a big, beautiful body of work out of you and your life. I love small beginnings. Knowing how small beginnings have big impacts. And, and it also fascinates me that the praise that everyone was giving you the, a way they went crazy over that picture so to speak that painting, so to speak. I, I love that it helped to draw out your talent because there's such a fine line between us craving for the praises of people and, um, pleasing people. And yet, when I look at, at pivotal moments throughout my life, often they come by someone believing in us and someone seeing something and saying something that helps to draw out our confidence. And so there's this...
Speaker 1 (16:25):
Speaker 2 (16:26):
This lovely balance between us not painting to people please, but also being aware of what people see in us. And helping, and, and that helps us to pursue our talent and our calling. So, I hear so much depth to that story, Julia.
Speaker 1 (16:46):
Thank you. And, and it was like after that, I was, I was doing shows, and I did one show where I remember. It was a one day show. It was outside, it was a hot summer day, and I had brought paintings. And, uh, there was a, a tree that was similar to the style that that lady had commissioned. And there was other things in my booth and there was an, a lady and every once in a while, she shows at a show that I'm doing, and I give her a big hug, 'cuz she bought two of my paintings at that little show, and I made $6,000 that weekend.
Speaker 2 (17:27):
Speaker 1 (17:28):
And I phoned my husband and I said, it's time to quit my job. Like, if I can do do one show a month, and I could do this type of thing, like it's time to quit that job. And again, that was a pivotal moment where, where I said, I can make enough to replace my part-time job by doing this. There is no sense in, in, in doing the part-time job. So, yeah, that was another pivotal moment. And you know, I, I call them markers. You know, almost like flags planted in the ground. Uh, things that, that happened. And, and even now, my online square foot show that I run only happened because COVID happened. Because my square foot show was always live, and in my studio. And I had a fairly big following, uh, on Instagram, and I would post about it and people would be like, well, how come we can't buy?
Speaker 1 (18:24):
We can't buy. I'm like, sorry, it's live. And, and I would have 50 people down the street, um, in a line coming in to buy. And then we pivoted during COVID, and it became such a success. And again, so there's a, there was a reward, and we went, Hmm, this is pretty good. And then it was another opportunity to lift up artists from across Canada and the States, involve buyers from around the world. We've, we've shipped paintings through Square Foot Show around the world, and we sell out every time and in minutes. And so that was another pivotal. So, my encouragement to artists who are listening is to take advantage of those moments and, and notice them. Make them markers in your life that you can say, here's how it progressed.
Speaker 2 (19:21):
Notice the markers in your life, and take notice of how it's progressing. I love that there is so much depth there and, and it's something we've often talked about on the Bold Artist podcast is, is being intentional and, and aware of how our story is unfolding and the next step that we can take to help it to unfold, um, to follow our dreams and to become better, bolder artists. So Julia, you mentioned to me that your work is known to be a riot of colors. And in your introduction, I said, how I was just taken by your brushstrokes. And you, now you've also shared with us that you are a fairly fast, prolific painter. Can you tell us about your painting style and how all of that came together? Just merging together to be this colorful, fast, prolific landscape painter that you are?
Speaker 1 (20:22):
Yeah. So, I am very colorful. I, I am not a purist in the, in, uh, in the way that I need to mix my own colors. So if, if golden makes a teal that I love, I use it. So I, I'm not mixing my blues. I'm not mixing my greens. I just use 'em right outta the tube. But the technique that I employ is that, um, no stroke -- and this is what you probably noticed when you saw my work in person -- no stroke is a solid color. There is so much variation. So, I will pick up paint on my brush three or, two or three, at least, um, colors are on the brush. And then I mix 'em right on the canvas. So, the stroke becomes, um, filled with color and striation, and that is my signature stroke. And I do, when I'm approaching a painting, a landscape painting, I do what I call the positive.
Speaker 1 (21:23):
The foreground first, the background is always last because I like the sky, the whatever is in the background to live and to kind of grow and emerge from the positive shapes. And that's when you'll see that my skies have a lot of energy in that they just grow out of the, the foreground. So, um, and I do a lot of, um, encapsulating, and just, uh, and, and in layers. So I'll color block, a whole painting, and then go back for the final, um, layers where I'll attack the whole painting again, crisp up some, some edges. And, uh, yeah, there you go.
Speaker 2 (22:05):
Part two of this show will be continued next week. So, stay tuned.