Artist Spotlight

How Julia Bethmann disregards the idea that all art must fit a certain aesthetic



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Julia is a mixed media artists who works in collage, printmaking, painting, and drawing to express her personal vision that we are all connected through spirit and nature. Julia loves experimentation and layering color, materials, and patterns. Julia studied photography and printmaking at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. Today, Julia sells original works and prints and teaches in person workshops on a range of topics including bookbinding, printmaking, and collage.

How do you live a creative life?

My creative life has really evolved and blossomed over the past year, especially since finding Get Messy! My daily art practice is very important to me. I usually have a few threads I am following and depending on the day – and my energy – one area of interest rises to the surface. When I first sit down at my desk to loosen up, I regularly turn to visual journaling.

I am currently aiming to do a 365 day project with watercolor illustrations. In 2017 I started doing a few 30 day challenges – Inktober, an April challenge led by Roxanne Coble, and CarveDecember with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. In 2018, I completed The 100 Day Project and another Inktober. These daily accountability projects were transformative for me in such a good way.

 

Also, I have a series of oil and cold wax paintings in the works as well as a series of oil-based monotypes I’m working on. I’m fortunate to have exhibitions planned for those works so I have deadlines to meet which keeps me focused (yep, I’m super deadline oriented).

I also love to visit museums, make art with my kids, and usually do some sketching while watching TV or hanging out.

 

Do you put your life into your art journal? Or is it focused on technique?

My journal is a space to process how I am feeling as well as to experiment with techniques. I love Get Messy because there is always a prompt to get me started if I am feeling stuck and I can launch off onto my own tangent from there.

 

What is your biggest barrier to creating?

Like lots of people, I struggle with time. I have a regular job (I am self-employed), an active family, and just not a lot of time. I also struggle with comparing myself to others and by doing that my own personal style gets lost.

 

How do you get over that hurdle?

As for finding time – I learned this from Get Messy – just having the materials out leads me to sit down and make something even if it is just for 15 minutes or so. Usually that leads to more time making art.

To address the personal style issue, it is just making as much as possible. I find it useful to work through my desire to copy someone else’s work by just copying it and then I can pull out the bits that I love from that to make it my own. I try to be careful to credit the source of my inspiration!

 

What has been your biggest lesson when it comes to creating art?

A regular art practise will push your style and skill forward. I committed to a 365 day drawing practise for 2019 because I believe so strongly in how important that daily work is.

✨ Free class for creatives ✨

In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

What is your favourite art journal page you’ve ever made? Why is it your favourite?

In my favorite pages, I love the combination of collage and drawn elements. I like to find a repeating pattern or shape in a collage piece that I can pull out and draw all over the page, like stars, raindrops, flowers, etc. I also like to try and evoke a feeling while I also experiment with composition and creating some sort of tension.

I shared two favorite spreads. The first is a reflection of this style, where the photographs and patterns evoke a feeling. For me, a feeling of motherhood. The second spread I’m sharing here is from the Rituals Class I just completed in 2018. I incorporated some of my own stamps and photography with lessons from the class and my love of birds and I am really pleased with it!

Have you ever actively disliked a page you’ve made? What did you do with it?

I won’t go back to an older journal and cover over pages I don’t like now, because that history is important to me, but if I am actively working on it and don’t like it, I know it is calling me to keep pushing. I have found most of my work does go through an ugly phase if it is truly developed to completion so I have to be comfortable with that phase and trust I will make it through. So I will cover it over or make a grand mark that will change it up.

 

Have you ever been through artist block? What did you do to overcome it?

I just keep making. I turn to Get Messy or Creativebug tutorials, get a pile of collage papers out and go crazy. If I’m just too tired, I’ll go through magazines and cut out some collage materials. I am just too busy to not use the time I have wisely so I push through it!

 

What’s the best art advice you’ve ever received?

Many of the themes I have talked about here are pieces of advice I have gotten from other people, but my own unique advice would be to make sure you have a space to create in that you enjoy and works for you. Whether it is just a bin of supplies that can travel with you or a proper desk, if you don’t like the space enough to sit in it, see how you can modify it to make it work for you.

An example of this for me is at first I had a desk and art supplies set up in our finished basement. I found it too dark and separate from my kids and I never went down there. Eventually, I moved my art supplies upstairs into a corner of my office (where I also work my day job) and I have a few extra chairs for the kids to join me when the mood strikes. While I have since expanded my work with oil paints back to the basement, this accessible space in my office is a place I walk by hundreds of times a day and can sit down for five minutes when the mood strikes.

 

What does community do for your creating?

I love love love connecting with art friends. I used to have a studio outside of my home and I miss the community that formed around that space. I love the Get Messy hangouts because they help me squeeze in a little more social time with art friends into my busy life.

 

Who would you like to celebrate in the Get Messy community?

Besides Lauren and Caylee, who are smart, talented, generous leaders of this amazing community! There are so many talented artists in this group! I would also like to lift up Sarah Rondon. Her amazing art style and thoughtful tutorials this year have been something I’ve looked forward to every season!

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Julia Bethmann

Julia is a mixed media artists who works in collage, printmaking, painting, and drawing to express her personal vision that we are all connected through spirit and nature. Julia loves experimentation and layering color, materials, and patterns. Julia studied photography and printmaking at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. Today, Julia sells original works and prints and teaches in person workshops on a range of topics including bookbinding, printmaking, and collage.

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