Friday, May 23, 2008

Interview with Julianna Bright

q)What is your name?

a)Julianna Bright.

q) Where do you live and work?

a)Portland, Oregon. USA

q)What is your favorite medium?

a)Pencil, gouache, ink and water color.

q)What is your current favorite subject?

a)Since my daughter was born last year, I have less time to work and so I find the process has become very stream of consciousness. When I sit down to draw now, I just take up the pencil and go, and what I seem to be drawing over and over are female figures, arbors, ribbons lacing around half animal, half human beings. There is something pleasurable at the moment about exposing the roots of plants, and painting figures as if they are floating beside these plants. In the past I would confront a project or show with an over arching theme in my mind, hash out some question I hoped to answer. I've had to sacrifice those overt machinations since becoming a mom, and so I think I'm turning over more and more to the subconscious. Also, children do a good deal to force you into inhabiting the moment; life with them is so alinear. This has been particularly interesting for me as an artist and a musician, to trust that whatever energy is there when I have a moment to show up can carry me.

q)How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

a)If I work straight through I can finish a small piece in a long day or two.

q)What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

a)I'm really proud of the record my partner and I made while I was pregnant with my daughter. (Our band is called The Golden Bears. We released a record this spring and pressed just 500 LPs and decided not to make any cds.) It feels like the music is the closest expression to the stuff I've heard in my head for so many years. And I think the lyrics and artwork I made for the album, all of these things are true expressions of my delight and joy in my life, my family. The lyrics were written very much in anticipation of what it would be like to meet our kid; and it's so great to me that this document exists for our daughter.

q)Are there any contemporary artists that you love?

a)Mostly friends actually. Amanda Eicher. Harrell Fletcher. Jen Smith. Chris Johansen. Donal Mosher.

q)Can we buy your art anywhere?

a)I try to post the pieces that are available through me or a gallery on my website.

q)Anything that people should know about that we don’t??

a)I have four chickens. Is that interesting?

q)What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?

a)Just keep making things. Practice. I think sometimes we have such a clear idea of what something should look or sound like and then we're frustrated when our facility or the process let's us down. We worry there isn't room in the world for what we do. But I think it's important to quiet those voices and to hold our seats when it feels like our work is betraying us as some kind of fraud. Even the crappiest painting gets you closer to something else.

q)What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?

a)I'm not frustrated by making art. I get frustrated by time constraints or feeling too exhausted at times, but I'd make the stuff I make even if no one ever saw or heard it.

q)How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?

a)Maybe the best way to describe what I do is that I make illustrations from lost or forgotten children's fables.

q)What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?

a)None. I'm self trained and just drew and painted and drew until I liked what I was seeing.

q)Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?


q)Who are your influences?

a)My partner is a huge influence on me. He has a very mechanical mind and often alters my perspective in super useful ways. I'm influenced by old photographs, plants, Indian miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts. The Kinks are my favorite band and Ray Davies has had a huge impact on how I think about music and story telling. (And art as story telling.)

q)What inspires you to create?

a)Just everything. I feel like there's this river that runs underneath everything and all I have to do is make the time to lower my hand into it. I'm alive, that's why I want to make things.

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