Watercolour extraordinaire Julie shares her passion for the medium and creative career highlights
Painting is famed for being a relaxing form of art, and the effortless look of Julie King’s beautiful watercolour paintings certainly takes you to a calm, happy place
full of colour. Her latest book, The Paint Pad Artist, Watercolour Flowers, guides you through the process to create beautiful work, with Julie’s expertise leading the way. We caught up with this artistic lady to talk about her inspirations, aspirations and why the natural world is her muse.
Tell us what a typical day in the life of Julie King looks like…
Some days I’m teaching and others are a combination of studio work and teaching, so having a varying schedule is good. I often start by replying to emails or preparing for a class. If I have the time, a good walk sets me up – it gives me time to think about the day ahead and I love to absorb the atmosphere, observe the changing seasons, and gather inspiration and ideas. I regularly teach in the morning and spend the rest of the day in my studio working on class preparation, commissions or speculative work. At the end of the day, I may spend a short period of time gardening or go to yoga for relaxation, but I usually end up answering more emails!
Why did you write a third book?
Search Press commissioned me to write and plan six projects for The Paint Pad Artist, Watercolour Flowers. I love to work in paint pads, and adored the concept of producing a hardback spiral-bound book with the look and feel of an artist’s paint pad to encourage the art of flower painting.
Your background is in textile design – how did you become so focused on watercolour?
For my 16th birthday, I was given a metal box of Winsor and Newton artist’s paints and became fascinated with watercolour. During my degree in printed textile design, I used watercolour to produce ideas for fabrics and would always gravitate towards flowers and the natural world for inspiration – with its translucent flowing qualities,
watercolour was the perfect medium to render the beauty of nature. I used gouache paint when designing fabrics, but I kept up my love of watercolour by painting in my spare time because of the relaxing and therapeutic benefits.
Your work is so unique, what inspires you?
Nature is my biggest source of inspiration and I am particularly drawn to colour – the interactions of one colour against another, the effects of varying light, shade and composition. I almost feel that flowers speak to me and cry out to be painted! I can’t wait to put my brush to paper and translate them into beautiful watercolours.
What has been a ‘wow’ moment in your career, and what else do you want to accomplish?
Writing a book was an achievement for me, along with being asked to teach on P&O cruise ships, which gave me the opportunity to travel. I always enjoy having goals to work towards – I would like to design my own range of floral fabrics, write a book on garden painting and produce works of art for specific interiors in both watercolour and acrylic – I could do with more hours in the day! Had I not become an artist, I still would have felt the need for a profession connected to flowers, so would probably have chosen to be either a florist or garden designer.
What do you enjoy most about hosting workshops and writing books?
When I write books and prepare projects, I love to be immersed in the process – it gives me the opportunity to share my passion and expertise in the subject I love in a way that can benefit others.
What are your three top tips for someone new to watercolour?
Start with a small selection of materials; the three primary colours, a number eight brush and 140gsm slightly textured paper are the essentials. Take the time to practise. Make a space at home to leave your art materials out so you can pick up your brush and spend ten minutes here and there working on it. Finally, don’t be too precious about your painting – we learn from making mistakes, so experiment and play with paint. Just let go and let it flow!
If you had to paint for someone famous, who would you pick?
I would like to paint in The Royal Gardens at Highgrove, so it would have to be Prince Charles.
What are your three studio essentials?
A number eight brush with a good point, my Winsor and Newton Artist watercolours, and a good quality watercolour paper.
Three words to describe yourself?
Creative, conscientious and patient