ARTIST Q&A

Julia Everett

Hastings - UK

Type of artwork you're most likely to produce?

Abstract seascape oil on canvas paintings.

What is your favourite piece of art you have created?

My recent ethereal seascapes where the colours are blended and look smooth and calm.

If you weren't an artist what other career would you be in?

I always wanted to be an actress or play in a band but I think I’m better as a painter.

If you could buy one piece of artwork what would it be?

I would love one of Turners sunset sketches.

What inspires you?

Light on water and gazing at the horizon on the sea.

Delving a little deeper

Why do you do what you do?

I’m very lucky to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I loved drawing and painting as a child and always wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Looking back on my school reports my teachers reinforced this by saying that art was all I was interested in.

My family had lots of art books that I used to look at all the time and I was fascinated by the Impressionists and Pre Raphaelites. I am actually distantly related to John Everett Millais.

My parents had a few Turner prints on the wall that fired my imagination and looking back they must have been a great influence to me. Growing up in the landlocked Midlands I always wanted to be near the sea.

Luckily my childhood holidays were spent in a caravan in Wales, where we spent a lot of time on beautiful windswept beaches looking at the ocean and sheltering from the British Summer.

I chose to go to college in Brighton to do my BA in Fine Art and my love of the sea grew. Now I live in Hastings and try and spend as much free time as I can contemplating the coast.

My studio is a Summerhouse in my garden with sea views that constantly inspire me and I love painting the light on the horizon. I have always felt driven to paint and can't imagine doing anything else.

Can you tell us about your artistic background/education

I was always drawing and painting as a child and encouraged by my parents to take an interest in the history of art.

They took me to galleries and fed my curiosity for creativity. I left school at 16 to go to a wonderful sixth form Art College where I gained art, sculpture and art history A levels and was able to study many disciplines including drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery making.

Painting was by far my favourite occupation and I knew that I wanted to be painter and was lucky enough to get a place on a Fine Art BA course in Brighton.

I couldn’t believe my luck as it was a very relaxed course and each student was allocated a studio space and left to work in it. It was a great education for me and we were allowed creative freedom to experiment and explore our ideas.

I even went into college to paint in the holidays. I’ve been very lucky to have had some fantastic teachers who have really inspired me. After graduating with my degree I continued to paint in shared studios with art groups in London, which was invaluable for meeting other artists and learning about how to survive as an artist.

Do you work in silence or do you prefer a distraction?

Music is integral to my work and my paintings are always named from song titles and lyrics. I always listen to music to get me in the zone when painting and feel that this has a strong influence on my finished work.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of dreamy folk music like Johnny Flynn, John Martyn and Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny. I think this contributes to the ethereal yet vivid quality of the paintings. I often get lost in the music and don’t realise where the time goes!

Lyrics often jump out at me when I'm painting and seem to fit the artwork perfectly. I feel that a snippet of a song lyric as a title gives the painting extra depth. Recently I’ve chosen song lyrics from Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Pink Floyd and David Bowie amongst others to title my paintings.

How do you choose the subject matter for your works?

I am an abstract painter inspired by nature and music. The sea provides me with powerful inspiration and I am endlessly fascinated with the horizon and its symbolism. I paint my abstract seascapes from memory rather than life and I want to evoke a sense of place however abstract the work becomes.

My paintings are influenced by the British Coastline, particularly Sussex and Cornwall and I aim to express the timeless feeling of calm experienced when staring at the sea. Lately, I have been concerned with minimalism in my work and have tried to capture a stillness that I have experienced during lockdown.

This Summer I have been mesmerised by light on the horizon and have painted a series of seascapes depicting this, some of which have turned out quite simple and abstract. Sometimes my paintings turn out to be more figurative.

I often paint with my hands and with sponges rather then brushes. I paint with oil on canvas and usually use the paint straight from the tube and mix it on the canvas with my fingers. I love bright pure colour and want my paintings to be vivid and alive. I often like to take an idea and see how it travels across a series of canvases, each one evolving into something new. Recently I painted 10 paintings from the memory of one incredible sunset in Cornwall, and they were all different.

Has your practice changed over time?

Yes, it really has. When I was younger my work very very figurative and I went through stages of painting in the style of famous artists like Van Gogh and Monet.

I was always excited by bright colours and used a lot of primary shades. When I studied Fine Art at University I became interested in the American Abstract Expressionists and painted large messy canvasses.

I was always slightly troubled about not having a recognisable image but I loved the creative process of mark-making and seeing where the liquidity of the paint took me with splashes and drips.

My work is much less wild these days and I feel that I am craving a calmness now I am older. I have been painting seascapes for the last decade and feel that I now have enough inspiration from living by the sea to always do this. I feel that I have found my niche and I never seem to tire of horizons, skies and light on water.

Who are your favourite contemporary or historical artists and why?

I have always found art, especially painting to be very exciting. I used to really enjoy visiting galleries, especially seeing the big greatest hits shows like Monet, Picasso, and Turner, which felt like visual rock concerts!

I love Salvador Dali, Magritte and the Surrealists for the way they use light and colour to create a strange world.

I love the Impressionists for how they create a glimmer of time in a distant age. I love following the linear progression that a lot of Twentieth Century painting seems to have with the evolution into modernism and expressionism.

I have hardly any interest in the old masters and find them mainly boring and uninspiring. Big favourites of mine are Turner, especially the almost abstract qualities of his later sunsets and seascapes, many of which are in the Tate.

I love Rothko and the weirdness of his simplicity. Albert Irvin’s large abstract colourful paintings are superb and I can really get lost in them. I find the movement and use of paint mesmerising.

If you could describe your work in less than 5 words, what would they be?

Vivid, Ethereal, Calm, Contemplative, Horizons

What is the best advice given to you as an artist?

Never be afraid to experiment but always be true to yourself.