Julia Karl is a painter living in London, U.K. Julia developed her passion for the arts in her early childhood and attended art classes throughout her school years. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in graphic arts at Buckinghamshire New University, she relocated to London to work as a graphic designer. In 2019 she decided to start a second career as a painter. Since then, she has exhibited her work in several group shows across the United Kingdom, including the Royal Institute of Watercolour Painters Annual Exhibition.
Julia embraces mainly water-based mediums such as watercolours, gouache or ink. Her body of work reflects her day-to-day observation, as well as her experience and relationships with the people around her. Likewise, Julia explores elements of mental health and normalness in her paintings. Julia's work stands out through her use of vibrant colours and her sense of weight and body form.
For me, art is an instrument to explore my emotions and everyday impressions. I like to capture spontaneous and imperfect moments. Likewise, my self-portraits are primarily an assessment of my internal struggles and an act of self-healing. It also serves as a visual diary documenting my ups and downs.
Usually, I will start a new artwork by taking reference photographs. At times it is a quick snapshot capturing a fleeting moment. I like to take concealed pictures of my subjects without their knowledge that reflect a true-to-life, candid pose or situation. Then again, some artworks are based on long photoshoots that serve as a sketching tool to plan out the composition and subject placement.
In my watercolour paintings, I use the slow process of glazing to add depth and richness to my work and emphasise that beauty is everywhere, even in flawed moments. Typically, I would start with a quick watercolour study, and then proceed with a detailed sketch on the paper. While painting, I slowly work towards the colour intensity I aspire to achieve.
What initially compelled you to pursue art?
As far as I remember, art was always part of my life. From toddler’s ballpen scribbles on the walls to weekly art school lessons, art was a way to express myself. My family moved a lot, and in some way, creativity was my security blanket. I studied graphic design, but after a couple of years into the job, I realized that I craved more creative expression. And therefore, I started painting again.
Who or what in your life influences your practice the most?
I think what influences me most is not a specific artist or event but the painting medium itself. I fell in love with watercolors and the slow process of glazing. Most people find it challenging, whereas for me it’s like meditation.
Of course, there are plenty of artists who inspire me, such as Aubrey Beardsley, Lucian Freud, Alice Neel, Paula Rego, Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley, to name a few.
What do you feel is the key concept that connects your works?
For me, art is an instrument to explore my emotions and everyday impressions. I like to capture spontaneous and imperfect moments as a contrast to the brushed-up, flawless images we encounter daily in old and new media. Likewise, my self-portraits are primarily an assessment of my internal struggles and an act of self-healing. It also serves as a visual diary documenting my ups and downs.
Tell us about a moment that made you look at your art and/or practice differently.
I don’t think I had this kind of moment (yet?). For me, everything is a development and continuity of previous work. I grow, develop and consequently change. I always try to stay genuine and avoid following trends. Additionally, I try to give myself space for errors and breaks. There is a lot of pressure to be always on, create and share. Instead, I like to remind myself that not everything has to lead to a masterpiece and give me space to explore.
What does your art give you that nothing else can?
Art gives me a tool to explore without any prejudice. It’s a place where I can be honest with myself and express emotions that I can’t express in words. At the end of the day, I paint because I am.