Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Feature: Julie Hill

Hi Everyone,
Julie Hill
Hope you had a great Turkey Day for all of my U.S. bloggers.  Today I'm featuring Julie Hill.  Julie is a fellow watercolorist but our styles are completely different.  Her work is beautiful and impressionistic.  I first met Julie through Artists' Helping Artist radio show.  Julie has become a blogging buddy and she is always happy to talk watercolor and give advice.

To see more of Julie's work visit her blog and website.
"A Boy's Special Moment" 22 x 30 watercolor by Julie Hill
 How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

I believe that I have had a non-conventional start in the artistic world. First a little background, I have a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from UCLA.  Up until 2004, I was professor at USC School of Medicine, taught at the graduate level, had a multi-million dollar NIH funded research program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles…whew…that’s a mouthful isn’t it?. I was pretty good at what I was doing, actually in academic sciences I was considered fairly successful. Anyway, although I was good, it became clear that it wasn’t God’s plan for me….I won’t ramble on with all the details (they are available in an excellent radio interview by Gene Gee- the link is on my blog), but suffice it to say…I had not a creative inclination in me what-so-ever….I was strictly an academic scientist…but I did have the idea that someday “When I retire, I am going to learn how to Salsa dance and watercolor  paint”. I suppose the Lord, was saying to me… “What are you waiting for?”….and there it began, first by learning how to draw…then playing with the wet colors on paper. I am self-taught with the exception of a series of classes from an artist whose style spoke to me. I just painted whatever I felt. And here the journey continues …still only painting whatever I feel.  I have been blessed that my accomplishments in the artistic arena have come at a very fast pace, and seemingly without me hitting the pavement or starving in the process. If one really thinks about it, it is crazy...but that’s God for you and I love it!

Where were you born?

 I am a southern California native (and almost embarassassingly enough, I can say that I have lived no where else)

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

In a remote place…surrounded by peaceful nature, simpler times and lots of land and Oak trees.
"I Prayed" 18 x 24 watercolor by Julie Hill
 What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I love capturing moments, ordinary moments or scenes…but somehow portraying that special distinctive quality about the ordinary. I also especially enjoy painting structures, architecture, cityscapes, etc….I feel there is a grounded quality that I absorb when painting those scenes.

Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint? Which was the most difficult?

This is a hard question, because I do find joy whenever and where ever I paint (I guess that’s why it’s my passion), but if I had to choose: One of my favorite pieces to do was “I Prayed…” an interior of St. Peter’s Basilica. I was doing the piece and wondered what the inscription was…I found a translation and part of the text said “I prayed…”. The technique and color palette I used on that piece was so simple…yet the “bones” of that painting was so intense….it made me reflect on life and how we can approach the complex. Just keep it simple and basic…and you can get through it.   The most difficult painting I have done was somewhere in the middle of my recent train series….Black steam engines are really challenging to paint and to read well…especially in the impressionistic style that I do. Ironically, amongst all those trains I found another of my favorites “A Boy’s Special Moment” a piece depicting a timeless black steam engine with a father and son walking together…I love that I could capture that moment in a boy’s life.

"Engine 486" 14 x 19 watercolor by Julie Hill
 Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Well this question is a bit embarrassing for me to answer…I have no art background, not even an art appreciation class in college…so my knowledge base is very slim. Though I have to say I love the Impressionists and their story. I find it very inspiring that the style and approach of the Impressionists was not accepted in the beginning…rebels and forward-thinkers. I like that.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

My favorite things: Arches cold press 140 lb natural white paper…nothing like it!, my Silver Kolinski sable #18 round brush, my 2” large flat wash brush (keeps me loose), and a quiet serene work space.

Essential things for my well being/success: My faith….I am here because of a gift, every painting that comes out of me is a blessing, and not of my doing.
"Quiet Place Replenish" 13 x 18.5 watercolor by Julie Hill
 Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I use primarily Holbein, Winsor-Newton and Daniel Smith paints. I have found that W/N French Ultramarine and their Permanent Alizarin Crimson work the best for me. Whereas I enjoy Holbein’s paints probably the most. I have the standard palette of warm and cools of each primary…a few earth tones and my additional “go to” colors: Holbein’s Lavender, W/N Quinacridone Gold, Holbein’s Cobalt Turquoise Light and Daniel Smith’s Bordeaux.

Do you ever get artist’s block? And what do you do to overcome it?

I wouldn’t say its artist’s block…but perhaps moments of little inspiration. Usually it just means I need to get out there and live a little…take in life a bit more….or just the opposite…sleep.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

This question is very challenging for me, because 5 years ago I would have never imagined or even had the desire to be where I am now… I am in disbelief that I am here. All that said, I do see a few things in my artistic future:

  1. Designated studio space…great light and fabulous storage.
  2. Travelling and painting trips
  3. Representation by one more gallery (I think 4 is a good number)
  4. Publish a book...a different kind of book highlighting my work…
"Disembarking in Uppsala, Sweden" 12 x 12 watercolor by Julie Hill
 What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

If you have truly found your passion….then it will all work out. Because you will always be doing what you love, and how can that be wrong? Paint, paint, paint…

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

It’s just paper…go for it!

Chocolate or vanilla?

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?
Depends on the season….

Book or movie?

Favorite author?

Favorite movie?
None (don’t mean to be difficult, but for most things, I really don’t have “favorites”)

Romance or comedy?

Favorite ice cream flavor?
This week, Trader Joe’s Lemon and Ginger Snap Ice Cream

Night owl or morning person?

Cake or Cupcakes?

Thank you Julie for your interview!  It was great to learn a little more about you:)


  1. Wow, I love Julie Hill and her painting. I've followed her about as long as I have you and Crystal. Great interview, Carrie. Hope everything is good with you and yours. Good thoughts and prayers always!

  2. Oh I loved this Julie and Carrie! So great to find out more about Julie she's one of my favorites too. :) Love what you said about it being a gift from God. Huzzah! To both of you!

  3. Nice work Julie. Thanks for the article Carrie!

  4. I've been blogging w/ Julie for several years and loved reading this!

  5. These interviews are such a lovely idea! I had never come across Julie before. What an amazing artist she is! :0)

  6. Wonderful interview and have always enjoyed Julie's artwork and blog. Fun to read a bit more about her journey. Both of you did an amazing job with this and thanks- wonderful!

  7. Wonderful interview Carrie!! Julie Hill is an incredible artist...I've been following her for awhile and enjoy her work!!

  8. Thanks Carrie for the lovely interview...and for portraying me in such a delightful light. And to everyone who has so generously commented...thank you!

  9. I love her work, the train painting especially. Her advice for aspiring artists is fantastic 8)

  10. Wonderful to hear more about Julie and her work. She has been such an inspiration since I began blogging. Thanks for sharing!