Congratulations to oil painter Julia Eva Bacon, our January Artist of the Month! Bacon was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her piece Soul Mates can be seen below. Read more about Bacon below and how meeting the love of her life helped inspire the work below.
Battleboro, Vermont ~ woodrabbitarts.com
When I choose a subject and start a painting, it’s often unclear what is drawing me to that image. I have to trust that I’m being guided toward it for a reason, and be okay with not knowing the answer until it’s finished. Ravens have so much myth and legend surrounding them that I had enough to go on initially to be excited about painting them. But it was the first thought that crossed my mind as I watched them holding each other’s beaks that ended up being the heart and soul of this piece: They really love each other. I encountered these Ravens at a bird conservation sanctuary and was so moved by the way they interacted. I learned later that Ravens mate for life, and these two were a bonded pair; the beak holding is actually a courtship behavior. As fate would have it, about two months after I began this piece, I met my future husband, and the title Soul Mates was the perfect homage to the love of my life.
I use a very limited palette, consisting of Titanium White, French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre Pale, Alizarin Crimson and occasionally an accent color or two. I like to keep my overall tone consistent throughout my body of work. This particular painting used a TON of French Ultramarine, which I also use to mix my richest blacks. For this piece, I wanted to create a hazy, dimensional background that really gives the impression of a winter day and also helps to bring the ravens to life. I used a palette knife to create the textured sky and subtle horizon.
This painting took over 80 hours to complete, given the intricate detail necessary for each feather. About halfway in, I was I was lucky enough to be awarded a spot at the Vermont Studio Center artist retreat in Johnson, Vermont, where I painted up to 10 hours a day for a week straight and finished on the final day!
Creating art has been a life-long soul purpose. I am self-taught, primarily through books on technique, a few workshops and years of practice. I started painting in oils exclusively around 2003, focusing at the time on figurative work and then gradually shifting to one of my greatest loves—animals—as a language to translate spirit into the physical world. I paint my animals from a spiritual perspective, honoring their innate wisdom and using their mythologies to dive deeper into our connection with our own higher selves, and with our connection to the natural world.
Something I always keep in mind is to paint from the heart. Artists have a lot of outside stressors to contend with, including financial stability! It can be a slippery slope to start monetizing our artwork, but we’ve got to always check our motivation and make sure it’s coming from the heart. There is a lot of fear that comes with creativity, and it’s important to honor that fear and move forward. As Georgia O’Keeffe famously said, “To create one’s own world takes courage.”
The Artist’s Magazine Annual Competition is just one of those big-achievement-type contests. Competitions can be extremely rewarding and extremely deflating, depending on the outcome! But either way, it’s good practice for an artist to have the courage to be seen, and also practice detaching from our expectations and outcomes.