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Meet Julianna Wells

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julianna Wells.

Julianna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My roots are in Pine Mountain, Georgia. The town is a small remote place surrounded by miles of deciduous forests. I grew up living in FDR State Park, where my father was a park ranger. The early years of my life were filled with hiking, watching animals, and making watercolors of what I saw in my environment. Most of my artwork was of the local landscape or of the animals within it, especially birds. They have always fascinated me because of their ability to transcend the world that we inhabit, and this fascination has not left me. My parents also exposed me to art history at a young age by taking me to visit art museums across the South East. My enchantment was strongest in nineteenth-century paintings and contemporary realism. To my young mind, it was incredible that an oil painting could capture an entire atmosphere of mood and emotion. I began to paint in earnest, and I am still pursuing the techniques of painting and drawing today.

I was thankful to receive a scholarship to attend Columbus State University’s art department for my BFA degree. They have a wonderful program that exposes students to all of the artistic disciplines, liberal arts, art history, and challenges students to think conceptually and to use interdisciplinary approaches to their work.

My education was pushed further when I met the artist Bo Bartlett. During my freshman year at CSU, I was thankful to receive an award to be a student ambassador to his master class. Shortly after, he invited me to study with him. He took me under his wing and taught me what he knows about the skill, knowledge, and concept of painting in a representational style. His teaching and paintings have had a deep influence on my life and work. Bo’s paintings find the significance in the mundane and the universal narrative in the everyday. I am interested in pursuing goals similar to these in my own work.

After graduation, I moved to Brooklyn and attended the New York Academy of Art in NYC for my Master’s degree. There I was able to study with more representational artists such as Steven Assael, Vincent Desiderio, Margaret Bowland, Will Cotten, Wade Schuman, Peter Drake, and many others. While at the academy, these teachers helped me to focus on developing skill and narrative in my work for two years. I learned so much during my time there, and I am still processing all of it now. After completing the program, I decided to move back home to Columbus, GA. I felt the need to be surrounded by nature, and it has fed my work to be home where most of my inspiration comes from.

For the past year, I have me putting my education to use and looking at my local landscape. I am meditating on my past and looking for where I find meaning and connection. My work captures quiet moments of introspection, as wells as the delicate interaction of our environments and inner emotional states. I am drawn to the local palette: sky blue, Georgia red clay, bright green grass, yellow flowers, the dark green of the pine trees, and the numbers of the topsoil. I work outside in Plein air to observe the intricacy of the environment, and I bring these paintings back to the studio to fuel my larger paintings.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Considering I have been in school for all of my life, the path has been thankfully pretty smooth. I am thankful to have many mentors and teachers who have guided me along this road. I have struggled in finding my voice as an artist at times, but I feel that I have a better understanding and direction now.

I also had some fear of what would happen after I graduated and transitioned into the real world, but my local community has welcomed me back with open arms and have provided a tremendous amount of support. I am grateful for their love.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I am a representational painter in the American Realist tradition. My primary mediums are oil painting and charcoal drawing. In my own work, I paint people, the landscape, and still life. Most of my work is rooted in the Southeastern landscape.

I also have a love teaching. I am thankful to have a handful of students that I work with privately, and it brings a lot of joy to help them understand how to paint and work from life. I am also working on developing a series of workshops. I am often asked to do commissions as well – mostly portraits, landscapes, and sometimes copies of previous work I have done. Art is the sharing of an experience, and I believe that most people find a sense of peace and harmony with nature in my work.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I really don’t have any regrets on the path I have taken. There are times that I have gone looking for a “niche” or a “concept” that was more trendy, but I believe that is part of being young and in school. Ultimately, I decided to just be true to my own nature, and my work has become more relevant because of that decision. Everything I have pursued has led me to where I am now.

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