Artist Interview: Julie Gilbert Pollard

Posted August 03 2015

 In our June 26 Newsletter we featured one of Julie's video workshops Watercolor Unleashed: Painting White Flowers with Julie Gilbert Pollard.  We are pleased to carry two other Pollard videos: 

We wanted to get to know Julie better so we interviewed her by email.  Meet Julie Gilbert Pollard


Julie, can you talk about when you become interested in art?  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in art and being an artist. It’s always been an important part of my personality and identity.


What inspires you?  The natural world is what inspires me most. It’s hard to explain – I just love it and want to paint it.

A Balmy Day at Beacon Hill Park by Julie Gilbert Pollard A Balmy Day at Beacon Hill Park by Julie Gilbert Pollard

Did you go to art school?  How did it prepare you for a life as an artist?  How did it not prepare you?   I treated a local community college like a trade school and took only art classes. Four semesters of life drawing was the best thing I did as it teaches you to really see and appreciate the beauty of all shapes. It’s awfully hard to draw and paint something if you don’t know how to really see it.

Crescent Moon Ranch by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Crescent Moon Ranch by Julie Gilbert Pollard 

How long did it take you before you felt like you could call yourself an artist? Was that a long and hard transition to make or was it a quick one? Do you think it's important for artists to call themselves artists?  I think all aspiring artists call themselves “artists” long before becoming professional and so did I. The word “artist” is more a statement about our identity in this world than what we do or how well we do it. The term “professional artist” is a bit different.

 Dillman's Creek by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Dillman's Creek by Julie Gilbert Pollard

Earlier in your life, before becoming a full-time artist, how did you find the time to paint? Was that a struggle?  How did you balance “life” and “art”?  As a young mother I wasn’t able to paint. Instead I did craft projects with my daughters. It wasn’t exactly “art” but it fulfilled that need somewhat and it was such a fun thing for us to do together.

 Morning Bouquet by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Morning Bouquet by Julie Gilbert Pollard

How did you approach learning to paint? Was it self-instructed? How did you use teachers, art videos and books to direct your learning process?  When I was young I drew all the time – anything that would hold still, and my family members often posed for me. It was always pretty easy for me to get a good likeness. That early drawing practice still stands me in good stead. However, I was very chagrined to learn that, although drawing is a huge part of painting, being able to draw does not mean that you will automatically be able to paint. Paint is a whole different animal with many more parts to it that need to be learned. That was a pretty big stumbling block for a while.

Rosa Carmela by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Rosa Carmela by Julie Gilbert Pollard 

What advice would you give about self-teaching to someone who wants to learn to paint?  If you can, get some quality instruction. I am mostly self-taught. I really believe that the right mentorship would have helped me progress a lot faster.


How much time do you spend painting now? Do you set a weekly or daily schedule or do you just see where the week takes you?  Due to the classes and workshops I conduct and the North Light Books and Videos I write, illustrate and prepare for, my actual painting time is limited, though often the books, etc. actually make me paint! That’s the good news. It’s really the administrative tasks that are required in any business that are the major limiting factors to painting time. It’s hard to achieve a good balance between the two but both are required so I just do my best. I often pull “all nighters” in order to get it all done.

 Rose Tree Path by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Rose Tree Path by Julie Gilbert Pollard

Have you ever changed mediums you work in?  What did the new medium say that you couldn’t express in the previous medium?  I work in three mediums: oil, watercolor and acrylic. I like to alternate between mediums and alternate between transparent and opaque methods – I like to think it keeps me on my toes. I love both and wouldn’t be able to give up either.

 The Spectrum in Bloom by Julie Gilbert Pollard  The Spectrum in Bloom by Julie Gilbert Pollard

What type of images move you to paint? Do you paint from reference photos? From memory? How do you approach a piece? Do you work through thumbnails before beginning or do you go directly to the page?  I paint from photos most often, and mostly because of the impracticality of plein air painting and my schedule. My favorite subject matter is water, rocks and flowers. When I can put all three in the same painting I’m a very happy painter! I often do preliminary studies – I think they can and should be fun. Fun is good as it makes it a lot easier to do and the studies are so helpful. Often I paint an abstract painting as a study for a realistic painting or even a small painting as a study for a larger painting of the same subject. It’s all fun!

 Wahkeena by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Wahkeena by Julie Gilbert Pollard

Do you work on more than one painting at a time?  Describe your process.  I usually have several paintings going on at once, mostly due to many paintings begun as demonstrations that I want to finish.


How do you know when to quit (a painting)?  I find that getting that final balance in a painting to be the hardest part of the painting. When it still feels balanced after not looking at it for several days, that’s a good sign that the painting is finished. But sometimes I won’t see a problem in a painting for longer than that – very aggravating! When I do see a problem, I fix it if the painting is still in my possession!

West Fork Bayou by Julie Gilbert Pollard  West Fork Bayou by Julie Gilbert Pollard 

How can less experienced artists find “their style”?  Learn the nuts and bolts of your chosen medium until their use becomes second nature. Your personal style is a combination of your natural handwriting, subject choices, color choices, likes, dislikes, etc. It will all come through in your work gradually as you build your foundation of the fundamentals.


How do you market your art?

  • Galleries, Etsy, Website, Facebook, other social media platforms?
  • What advice can you share with other artists about what has worked and not worked for you?
  • My work is currently represented by three Arizona galleries: Raku Gallery in Jerome, Sedona Art Center Gallery in Sedona and Esprit Décor Gallery in Phoenix.

Do you teach?  I teach weekly classes locally and workshops in various out of state areas.

 Yosemite Forest by Julie Gilbert Pollard  Yosemite Forest by Julie Gilbert Pollard

Where do you see your art taking you in the next 5 to 10 years?  Any hopes and dreams?  I would love to do fewer administrative tasks and more painting!    


In closing, what one or two pieces of advice would you like to give to newer artists?  Paint because you love painting – have fun!


Artist Bio