Thoughts About My Painting Practice by Julie Held

"What strikes me as being an uppermost concern whilst painting is, amongst other things, something David Bomberg said about making a ‘monument to a moment’ when drawing. This applies to painting too, of course. I imagine that this means different things to other painters. Here I will try to explain how it is formative to my practice.


I paint not what I ‘see’ but what I ‘saw’ in that my work is derived, yes, from direct observation but importantly it is mediated through memory and time. I seek an emotional equivalence to what I ‘see’ or ‘saw’ and not a facsimile or typographic or illusionistic likeness. This is the same for all subject matter. It is the content.


The vehicle I use is paint, colour. Some would say this is symbolism, but it isn’t, as I seek a truth that conveys the emotion of the subject and will be different for each work.



Drawing underpins this all. I draw to get specific information and clarity. ‘How are petals attached on this flower?’ ‘Where is the stamen?’ ‘How is the nose screwed into the head?’. Once I see this and understand it, I can discard exactitude and paint freely until I need more such information when I will draw again.


Drawing is also important to me in its own right.



I love painting most when I lose my sense of self doing it. The painting thus takes over and demands its own language and structure. I know when the painting is ‘there’ or complete when it has an integrity of its own and is imbued with the emotion I set out with at its beginning. This may take weeks or years to achieve, but when it happens, I am free of its particular burdens and pleasures.


Influences are many and amongst them, of course, are painters: Fra Angelico to Leon Kossoff and for me, the star amongst them is Matisse.  I also look to textiles (a life-long love) and children’s illustration as well as some video artists and sculptors.



Novels and film are also important influences. For it is what they leave us with long after we have read the book or seen a film that stays with us and not narrative. I too seek this emotional equivalent, this power to stay with my viewers long after they have ‘seen’ my work and passed by to another painting. Better still when standing or sitting before it, for this is what I feel when confronted by a work that ‘speaks’ to me.


In my work, I am trying to bring to life that which resides both outside and within me and helps me ‘see’ my way. Hopefully others too."


Find out more about Julie Held on her artist profile page where you will also find a selection of original paintings available to buy.

September 1, 2020