Artist StatementAesthetically, I'm drawn to accident. I like to paint outside because I don't want to impose order or arrangement— I want to stumble upon it, making discoveries. In the same way, the best things with paint seem to happen when I’m not thinking too much. I feel always in pursuit of being surprised, of seeing things in a painting that seem to have happened when I wasn't paying attention. And I want to celebrate nature. The wilder the nature, the better: places left uninterrupted by humans. Trees at the borders of open meadows, creeks running past untended woods, fields and hills where grasses, briers, and wildflowers have been left to run riot. These places raise my spirits and make me want to paint. Natural imagery seems everywhere evocative of relationship, gesture, and emotion: trees stand, reach, and lean together; ridges survey, fields recline, rivers sleep or journey. I tend to like compositions that feel inviting or enveloping, and that have an element of intimacy. The experience of looking at nature is thrilling—the movement, the shadows, the play of light—it’s a whirlwind of sensation. My sense is that it’s not enough to take the elements of a scene and copy them. Better to respond with emotion and invention, to try to meet the unfolding drama and flux with the movement of your brush, your half-complete impressions, choice of color, choice of mark, etc. It’s the only way to match wits with nature—to make a painting come even close to being as exciting as nature itself. And it seems important to try to work with what Corot called “confidence,” Van Gogh “brio,” Delacroix “extreme daring.” We want to be free from fear, and perhaps when we see fearlessness in an artist’s work, it moves us as would any act of daring, or passionate abandon, or selflessness, or love.
Julia Sutliff makes oil paintings of nature near her home north of Baltimore, Maryland. She prefers to paint outside where she finds a better state of mind, a greater sense of freedom, and a bigger appetite for risk.
She is appreciated by collectors and fellow artists for her sense of color and her “flair for simplifying form and color in order to capture the essence of a scene.” One has commented that “the energy in her brushstrokes takes me beyond Impressionism. It’s like Nature itself. Alive. So full of movement, always changing and evolving.” She has been noticed for having “an eye for the underlying beauty of landscapes that most of us would overlook” and painting “places that are unspectacular, often in areas where development encroaches on nature.” When viewing her work, an artist has commented, "I feel I’m reaching into the heart of that scene and feeling its pulse, its heartbeat.”
Julia has a BA in Modern Culture and Media from Brown, an MA in English from the University of Maryland, and an MA in Teaching from College of Notre Dame of Maryland; she also studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has shown her work in solo and group shows in Maryland and nearby states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and North Carolina.