September 16th, 2023Artists of the Central Highlands
with Eve Lamb
Glenlyon’s Julie Coyle, one of the many artists taking part in the upcoming Rotary Daylesford Art Show, says her artistic style leans towards abstraction and certainly impressionism. She looks for an emotional response to the landscape. Julie spared some time to tell The Local a bit about her creative practice.
Eve: How did you come to art?
Julie: Creativity, in so many forms, is a comfort zone for me. I’ve always been a maker and a drawer. Soon after moving to the Central Highlands, during a painting workshop in Woodend, someone suggested the Art Pathways course in Castlemaine. The teachers’ minds, and knowledge of the art world, the way they ‘lived’ creativity was incredibly inspiring. The visual arts diploma in Bendigo followed, and currently, the bachelor at Fed Uni, Ballarat. For me, being immersed in art feeds the soul.
The first painting I sold was in a group show at the Little Gallery, Trentham, about six years ago – the memory will stay with me forever. The girls are so supportive of us locals. The atmosphere of opening night, and the red dots. The idea that a painting can resonate enough with someone to bring it into their home, fills me with happiness. I’ve been painting ever since.
Eve: Where do you do most of your art work?
Julie: I work at home. I recently finished (almost) an owner-build, with my son and his partner, designing in a studio area, and a big open living space – room enough for walking around easels. I like the idea of being with works in progress. Time with them allows a new way of seeing. Being able to pick up a brush at any time can be great too.
Eve: Which artists have influenced your work?
Julie: Oh, that’s difficult. I’m constantly in awe of so many artists. Certain elements can be fascinating. I feel as though we subconsciously, to a certain degree, absorb, and are influenced by everything we surround ourselves with.
Turner is an artist who struck me in my teenage years, and continues to do so. I remember during a school National Gallery visit, being surprised when I first felt a connection to an art work. My world was smaller then, and the artists I had an awareness of, were historic giants.
My next love, later on, was Marshall Williams, a Mornington Peninsula artist, and painter of atmospheric skies meeting water, and small, still boats. I felt so drawn to his work, and my younger self couldn’t quite work out why. During an opportunity to meet him, and gush my admiration, he said: ‘They’re not really about the boats, it’s all about the emotion.’ It was a new concept for me.
Jennifer Riddle, another Peninsula landscape artist, is one whose work I’ve admired since early in her painting career. Her paintings are also beautifully still, serene, atmospheric scenes.
Eve: Are there any other particular factors that have influenced your creative practice?
Julie: I think life itself influences and informs our work, to a huge degree. Looking back at older paintings, I see my work changing, and slowly evolving. I’m searching for ways to convey a depth of calm, and I couldn’t possibly separate that from the idea of respite.
Eve: What is your media of choice?
Julie: Although there’s a richness in oils that I love, I’ve been working in acrylics for their ability to produce layers without the need for time in between.
I can work on a few canvases at once, returning to each one without pause, which is what works for me if everything is flowing well. I use a fixative between coats, to avoid disturbing the previous wash, and a gloss varnish when finished.
Eve: What are your subject matters of choice?
Julie: Our local, natural landscapes, and skies. I’m fascinated by the way we’re drawn to nature, and its restorative powers, and calming effects. I feel compelled to find a way to harness some of that.
Eve: Have you ever worked in any other areas?
Julie: Mostly I’ve worked from home, raising a family. Market stalls with wooden homewares led to making bespoke furniture through a gallery in Sorrento. I loved the design aspect, and working with timber, especially reclaimed. After moving to the highlands, renovating an old farm, then building a few years later, I’m cured of those desires, as rewarding as they’ve been.
The idea of reclaiming and reusing appeared again for me, when moving up here, in the form of a space at the Amazing Mill Markets, Daylesford.
There I’ve curated a collection of ‘gently worn’ clothing, with a few handmade linen pieces. I’ll always enjoy design. I love that these ways are kind to our planet, and that I can work around my painting.
Eve: What have been your career highlights?
Julie: I always feel enormous gratitude to buyers of my work. It’s an act of the greatest encouragement. When a viewer at an exhibition a while ago turned from my painting, put her hand to her heart, and looked at me, I felt I had achieved something of value. I’ve had some awards at local art shows, which have been so validating, and so appreciated. It all amounts to feeling worthy of continuing along this creative path!
Eve: Do you have any exhibitions or special arts events coming up?
Julie: Ideas are floating around a show with a friend next year in Ballarat, but for now, I have work hanging in the Falkner Gallery, Castlemaine, and the Clayfire Gallery, Daylesford. And there’s the Daylesford Art Show…