Cornwall-based artist Julia Cooper has a knack for evoking the landscapes and seascapes she lives among. In the stillness of her mixed media abstracts she conjures a sense of wind buffeting coastal tracks, of rain running down windows and the deep comfort instilled by the sound of weather squalling around a solitary loft.
For Julia, it all began with a desire to pursue and explore the colours reflected around her. “I look out of the window across the harbour and see the millions of greens in the water and want to gather them all together.”
Today that urge is usually the beginning of a mixed media painting, but in the past she harnessed it in other ways and using other mediums. It began when she was a child loving drawing and colouring in, and developed into a passion for sewing and patchwork, including a City & Guilds in Design, before she retrained as an Interior Designer. “The National Trust have 97 holiday cottages. I’d already been making huge drapes for them, and when I became a freelance interior designer I worked on three or four of the cottages a year for four years.”
When the National Trust moved the centre of these projects from Cornwall to Wiltshire, Julia took the opportunity to focus on art full time.
“I’m very lucky, I know that,” she says.
The goal for Julia is simple, to continuously improve her skills and better achieve on the page (or canvas or panel) what she sees in her head. “I feel I’m still learning to paint well,” she says. “Not just technically, but physically placing the paint on canvas.”
Some of my favourite works by Julia include her figurative paintings of jugs and other objects, which exude a wonderful impression of solidity I find really appealing. Julia, however, says these pieces don’t offer “the wide field to experiment and play with colour” that’s she’s after. Currently she’s working on such large-scale semi-abstract paintings, forever striving to improve, and even painting over old ones in her ambition to achieve “a really good painting.”
Inspirations include “moss on granite. The weathered paintwork and weed strewn docks around the harbour. Greens flitting across the water. Greys on the horizon. Walking along the beach looking at muddy sand. Old, faded fabric.”
She says she “sucks it all in, and it has to burst out somewhere. It’s getting it into a decipherable image that’s the challenge.”
Texture is an important part of this, and as well as working on found timber, often provided by a local boat yard when renovating old vessels, she also creates her own canvasses, using “heavy cotton with a really rough surface.”
But it’s the surface of Fowey Harbour that draws her attention most, sitting in her studio at the very top of her house. “It’s a busy working port, so there’s something happening all the time. My studio has big windows and a skylight so I’m right up in the weather, looking through the mist to the other side, and noticing all the colours on the way.”
Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.