Julie Bowland Artist Statement, 2020
I work directly from nature with oil paint applied in a thick vigorous impasto. Color is everything to me: It expresses intensity of emotion as it defines space and form. While color and form may be freely interpreted, it remains important to me to work from nature. I appreciate the directness and spontaneity of the dynamic, always changing conditions of the outdoors while I paint and draw: They create a joy and a challenge while I work, and I often have no idea how a painting will turn out. That spontaneity is the fun part.
The French called painting directly from nature en plein air, "in open air." It is exciting and inspiring to slather paint, engulfed in a wild swamp or forest, to dance with the elements of wind, wildlife, shifting light, and all the other uncontrollable aspects of nature. This joy and excitement drives me to make art. I think of my style of art as plein air expressionism.
In the last few years I have taken to remote waterways to paint from my canoe, and even more recently from my kayak. I paddle quietly into wild rivers and streams, and respond directly with watercolor and mixed media. I find the aqueous media paintings to be bright and full of light and air, reflecting a serene energy that speaks of the place, as well as my feelings. Soft pastels lend themselves to my direct, spontaneous approach, mark-making with a more delicate hand than the brushstrokes of thick paint. Regardless of the media, my art embraces nature in all its glory.