LP: You said that in your work you are trying to accomplish a combination between impressionist and expressionist tradition into semi-abstract painting. We found this in the painting «Refraction oil on Canvas». What can you tell us about this painting?
JP: First of all, I never paint from photographs and I never paint from plein aire… I never paint outside. So I paint from memories in my brain. This amalgamation from memories of a mood, a feeling or a thought or a place that I try to capture it. And this painting is about… I ́ve been in several little vacation in New England to little lakes by the woods. And when the Sun was sunny you have this great shinny light come out. And if you sort of blur your vision, it looks a little bit like this painting. And that's what I originally trying to capture, but a lot of my paintings there's almost an ominous side, where it's like: it's a beautiful image but you don't know if it's always going to be like that. In this image it's almost as if it's part of the trees are like melting into the water.
LP: Yes, it's true!
JP: And a lot of my work, I mean to be very beautiful in people's walls, but there ́s this undercurrent where I ́m very worried about climate change and what humans are doing to the Earth and how we are not kind of going fast enough to try to safe or learn how to stop climate change. So there's always this ominous like: here's a beautiful painting, but what's happening with all the trees…? Are the trees going to disappear? Is the water going to disappear? It may be a moment in time in the future that will not going to exist because what we are doing to the earth.
LP: We discover this comparing several paintings, and found that those landscapes where human presence is obvious, are dominated by tempestuous skies. On the contrary, where Nature is human-free, the sky is calm… Could it be that is through those skies that you manifest your preoccupation?
JP: Yes, I think your absolute right, I have a lot of ominous peculiarities about the presence of men in Nature, and I think humans are just inherited selfish in a way that animal and the Earth is not. And we feel in title to use natural resources as however we want without giving back. And I think we have to become a little bit less selfish in the XXI century if we want to continue living happily in this Earth. And so I think you are absolutely right, there is an ominous when men or humans enter in some way (building structure, etc).
LP: It calls our attention "Cottage reflection" where we found an obvious change on the brush-strokes, we suspect some latinoamerican art style influence. We are thinking in Quinquela Martin or Lazzari, for example… Do you agree? Which latinamerican painter do you like?
JP: I think that more so than the latinamerica´s painter, I'm more influence by going down to Latinamerica. I don't ́t know if you know, but I went to Argentina three times, and I love the colourings in La Boca… you know it's very vibrant that neighborhood. My cousin married an Argentine, and they live in Neuquén, I ́ve been in San Martín de los Andes twice; my brother lived for a year in Costa Rica, and another brother for a while in México… So, I do think there's something about the colors and vibrancy that I just love in latinamerican culture… A lot of painters from New England they are much more reserved, they don't paint with a lot of color and they don't paint with a very thick texture brush-strokes. I think I absolutely gravitate towards those sorts of colorful part of latin culture that I just absolutely love. And I love the freedom of Patagonia. I just remember riding in the pampas and you just feel that there ́s much more space there… you know?
LP: You say that you find yourself preoccupied with raising awareness about human responsibility for their acts and how impact on nature (give a damn are your exact words). How does the public react to it?
JP: Do my art or to my message
JP: I think people really like what the art looks like, and I think probably (honestly) that some people don't know necessarily the full meaning behind the paintings. And I had some clients that they say: “I really like this painting, what were you thinking? Or what was the inspiration for it?” And they are very surprised when I tell them my whole thinking process behind the painting. But honestly, many clients don't even ask, they just look at the work and so they kind of want it up on their homes. I will say that when I have talked in Instagram or in interviews or lectures, when I talked about trying to create work that makes people give a damn about the environment and how there's a couple of charities I donned a percentage of the profits to, everyone is really on board with that. People are positive and supported.
LP: Regarding yous social engagement: part of your sales gains are donated to Agora Partnerships’ Accelerate Women Now, Why do you choose this ONG to be involved in?
JP: Yes, I do that and I do one for the environment. Agora Partnerships is an amazing organization. It's based in the United States, but they work in Chile and in Nicaragua. And they identify female entrepreneur, and they give the foundings and advice to help them build business and I would say that it was founded and run by my brother; that's one reason way I know about it. Is this place in America, I don't know if there is one in Latinamerica, but it ́is call "social entrepreneurship" and is people who are starting a business that the purpose it's not necessary to make money, it's also to try to increase social commitment to try to improve community, to try to improve the environment, whatever it is.
And if you give female entrepreneurs access to capital and you give them some support they can create their own business, and then they employ people of their community and it just everyone rises in the community, And as I say my family just have connections with various countries in Latinoamerica my whole life, and so for my brother was kind of natural that his business that this organization has been based in Latinaemrica, there's a lot of need in Latinoamércia, there're some countries where there's a really big disparity between options men and women have and this organization really try to level up the field.
We cross by Julia Powell's paintings in the virtual world of Instagram, and we were caught by the colors and the dynamism of an impressionist brushstroke... But there was something else that caught our eye, a profoundness in those images that, no doubt, were saying much more.
Julia studied and practiced law for a while, and although the painting was somewhat distant, one day, one of her brothers gave her her first oils and canvases and began painting. What is that attractiveness of her paintings that captivates the viewer's gaze? Certain intellectualism with a romantic harmony and an appeal to the viewer to become aware of the world around us.
The impression that Julia left us is that of an analytical person in her thinking, pragmatic, deeply committed to society and with a clear sense of social responsibility, that turns in her work through a personal style: to contemplate one of her paintings is to dive in this creative mind that mixes bright colors over immediate, fleeting brushstrokes. On her work she says: "... I think of my work as accessible, but also as a refuge: just take a moment, pause and try to positively reflect what is happening in your lives."
LP: We would like to get to know you a bit better, for example: How it was the neighborhood where you grew up?
JP: I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it's the city where both Harvard University and MIT are, it's a very intellectual diverse community to grow up in. So even though it's a small community there, it's very international and very progressive so it was a wonderful place to grow up.
LP: Do you believe that growing up in that community has influenced you on your first career choice? I'm talking about your career as an attorney.
JP: Yes, absolutely. I think that when I was growing up I wasn't really sure… I didn't know any visual artists who were able to basically support himself financially. They had to have another job or they married someone that supported them. So I didn't think you can just do it. So going into law seem as a smart path. It's wasn't my path, but I like it a lot, I ́m still very interested in law.
LP: Imagining Julia-layer and Julia-artist as two different persons… they cross each other and join to have a cup of coffee… What they would talk about?
JP: I Think… So this is the thing of being a successful artist: you have to have a part of your brain that is able to think about marketing and branding and selling your art and having your art out there. And I think there's a lot of artists that they don't ́t think on that, they don't ́t think on the business part, they just want to stay in their studio and paint, but unless you are taking out your art into the world, you know, is very difficult to successfully earn a living. So, I think that both: the creator side of me (which is the painter) and the analytical side of me (which is the layer) they do very well together in creating the business and figuring out, you know: “I need to sell prints of my work; and figuring my Instagram account (which is a huge part of my business); figuring releasing chips and contracts with galleries”. And so, I don't think of them as fused themselves together and much more like they are both a part of me. I couldn't do what I do with my both sides of me: the analytical and intellectual layer side and the creative freewhiling artist side.
LP: Having in mind that you studied art as a grown up woman… How do you think this impact in your painting? It may be what explains the “accessibility” of your work?
JP: Yes, absolutely. I didn't go to art school. I went to law school. And I completely self-taught. So a lot of the traditional connections that you have in the art industry, professors or people of art school, curators or art dealers, who I might have started working with them when I was younger and painting in art school, I don't have any of that. The main reason I started to be really successful was because I develop a hug follower on Instagram. And so, I wanted to paint things that people really like. Many people came up to me and say: “I really like your work but my opinion doesn't matter because I don't know anything about art”. And I would say: “Of course you do, everyone knows something about art. When you go up into a painting does it inspired you, does it make you feel things you didn't feel before, does make you think about the world differently?” And they say: “Yes, yes”. “Well, then you know about art, you don't need to know everything in order to have an opinion”. And I think a lot of people, with the art world, feel very intimidated going into an art gallery or a museum. And they think: “I don't know if I should be here, I don't ́t know if I know enough about it”. I just want to encourage anyone looking at paintings to continue looking at them. They don't have to know this huge background in order to just appreciate it.
I think one of the apples of my art is that people really like impressionism, and my art is sort of contemporary impressionism. It's meant to be soothing, it's meant to be calming, it's meant to be accessible because, at least in the United States, it's a really tumultuous time for a lot of people, people are very unhappy, there's a lot of rage; our country is extremely divided and we have a president that is doing nothing to make our country more civil; make people sort of understand other people's perspective, and so I think there's a lot of tension and anxiety and anger after the election… What happens is that I sort wanted to create art that makes people feel calm and happy. And that they could felt they could enter this place where they could be in my art, instead of art that was very subversive or dark, because we have so much darkness around us right now… And so I think of my art accessible but also as a refuge: just take a moment, take a pause and try to reflect positively on what is happening in their lives.