Artist Spotlight

How art journaling helps Julie Marriott feel free

Julie Marriott is a painter, pattern designer, wife and mom from San Diego, California.  She’s passionate about creating bold and joyful artwork for the color-loving soul. In between creating her colorful paintings, Julie loves to teach local acrylic painting workshops and share about her creative process through her podcast, Make Share Grow.​

What is your creative story?

I’ve always been an artist. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been painting, drawing or working on a creative project of some kind. After attending art school, I spent several years teaching at a painting and drawing studio for kids. Although I made personal work on the side, I hadn’t yet found a specific style or subject that really spoke to me.

During that time, I took some surface pattern design courses online and discovered that I was really drawn to bright, painterly florals. Since then, I’ve been exploring this love in my paintings and patterns.

Describe your creative process. Do you have rituals to making?

My art-making time is usually during my three-year-old daughter’s nap time. As soon as she’s down, I grab an iced tea or coffee and run to my studio!

I have several Pinterest boards full of inspiring floral bouquets and color palettes.  When I’m starting a new piece, I scroll through and see if something catches my eye and sparks an idea. Sometimes I begin with a rough composition in mind, but I still try to paint as intuitively as possible and let the developing piece inform what color or shape should be added next.

One thing I find helpful for my productivity is to always have a “project” underway. It could be a certain number of paintings I’d like to complete for a collection, a fresh paint color to try out, or a new subject I want to explore.  When I already have a project going on, I can jump right back in without wasting time wondering what I should work on.

What tips do you have for beginners?

Be curious! Instead of worrying about how the piece will end up, enjoy the process of exploration. What can your medium do? How does it layer? What colors make you happiest to use? What part of the process absorbs you so much that you loose track of time?  What parts are super frustrating? What specific elements of other artists’ work inspire you to create? You’ll begin to sense patterns to what you truly love about making and what sparks your creativity.

What is your biggest struggle or barrier to creating and how do you overcome it?

A few years ago when my daughter was a baby, my biggest struggle was finding the time to make art. Now that she’s a little older and my studio time has a regular place in my day (nap time…yesss!), my new challenge is to keep my painting process fresh. In the past, I’ve given myself a painting-a-day challenge to loosen up my painting style. Now I’m feeling like my process with acrylics is becoming too comfortable and I need to throw in a new medium to mix things up (maybe a drawing medium like a pastel of some sort?) Feeling freedom and a sense of discovery when I create is my goal.

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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).

How do you go from beginner to expert?

Learning from teachers and other resources, getting feedback from people I trusted, and lots of personal experimentation were key for me to feel confident in my art-making.  Focus on gaining experience. Don’t expect your piece to end up perfectly the first time you try out a new technique. Practice and practice and try not to be precious about the work.  You’ll eventually develop a sense of your unique process of creating and of the stages your work moves through on its way to completion. My process usually follows the same pattern: exciting and inspired beginning, ugly middle, pulled-together end.  Each time you see a piece through to its conclusion, you’ll gain more confidence in yourself that you can do it again.

What are your must have supplies?

My basket of acrylic paints (I use about five different brands), a slim aluminum travel easel (perfect for my tiny studio), round paint brushes in various sizes, a disposable palette with tear-off sheets (which is fantastic for easy cleanup), LOTS of paper towels, and something to listen to while I paint (I just finished the whole Harry Potter series on audio book).

Do you feel like your art reflects your personality? How do you get it to look like you?

I’m generally a positive, upbeat person and I like to have happy art around me. When I paint, I’m drawn to colors that are joyful and energetic and that make me happy to use.

A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop trying to paint “realistically” and to embrace a more expressive color palette and painting approach. I think my natural disposition is to be more perfectionistic and paint more “tightly,” but letting go feels more challenging and fulfilling. This choice played a big part in my journey to my current painting style.

What are you currently working on?

I have several projects underway at the moment. I’m painting floral commission pieces for clients’ homes, creating surface pattern designs for fellow businesses, and working with a licensing company on a special project (though I can’t share yet!) But, the biggest thing I have underway right now is growing a baby! She’s due in November, so things will be quieting down around here near the end of the year. That’s what I love about my art practice and business. It’s flexible enough to ebb and flow with my season of life, and my paints will always be waiting for me when I’m ready to jump back in.

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Julie Marriott

Julie Marriott is a painter, pattern designer, wife and mom from San Diego, California.  She’s passionate about creating bold and joyful artwork for the color-loving soul. In between creating her colorful paintings, Julie loves to teach local acrylic painting workshops and share about her creative process through her podcast, Make Share Grow.

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