About my art

I want to paint things people don’t necessarily look at anymore. Things and places that have become so familiar, they lost their appeal or novelty.

OZARBLUNE. Julie Harms Showing people things they don’t look at anymore

It took 20 years of painting and sketching and drawing, a stressful and time-consuming job as an English teacher in Japan, to finally find my artistic voice. It also took all this time to gather enough courage to show my work and to find the words to talk about it.

Being in Japan should have been the beginning of a new life for me. One that did not include Art as a possibility anymore. I had my fill of oils and pastels and acrylic, I was tired of it all, abandoning the idea of ever finding my personal style. In Japan, it  was like being deaf, blind and mute. I couldn’t understand most of what people were telling me. I couldn’t read the signs nor could I converse freely without an interpreter. I couldn’t even go see a doctor or go to the bank unless I had someone who could translate.

I realize today that it was a blessing because what was left for me to understand were the basics: colors and lines.

Tableaux JU 016_modifié-1

Things that seemed completely common to the natives were completely new to me. They even carried a whole different meaning. For example, the electric wires crisscrossing above my head when walking on the streets of Nagasaki. There were hundreds of them all over the city. I remember thinking that they looked like fish nets. That we were the fish. To me they were an essential part of the town’s aesthetics and I couldn’t not include them in my paintings.

Then I came home.

Surrounded by the familiar places again, I started looking for those lines and colors. The same ones that came easily to me while in Japan. Thankfully they were there all along, all I had to do was look at them.

There is beauty in common places and things too

Taking pictures of everything and anything to illustrate our lives has become a very natural and automatic thing to us. Social media feed on them. Hundreds of thousands of clouds are filled with them. We “selfie” for any occasion. There are so many images around that I can’t help but wonder if we have the capacity to really look at them anymore.

I am no different from everyone else. Although I don’t have picture filled clouds, I like the idea of illustrating my environment and my life with my paintings. For that, I walk around with this little red camera that has become over the years my work partner.

I take pictures of the streets I go through, the places I visit, the roads I drive on, the people around me going about their everyday lives.

Circulez. 2012. Julie Harms.

Some of these pictures will stay in my camera for a year maybe more. They’re maturing. When time has gone by and I look at them again, that’s where what I didn’t see at first stares right back at me. Sometimes it’s just in a small detail of the picture, sometimes it’s the whole picture. I see that green trash can by a tree for example, or that blue graffiti on the top of a building, and the bouquet of lines that get there and around, and the colors that wrap all these lines up into something that to me is worth painting because it’s beautiful.

Julie Ann Harmsworth (Julie Harms), 2015.

38 responses to About my art

  1. Julie, you came to such a profound realization! I love your description of how you came to see the most simple lines and colors when “stripped” of things you took/we all take so for granted; familiarity, ease of communication and being at home. You produce amazing art! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • julie harms – Author

      Julia, thanks so much for your comment ! It took a long time for me to express all that in words. Thank you for taking the time to read about it. I do hope you’ll visit again.

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  2. I really enjoy your sense of composition. Your pictures are making me want to experiment with acrylics. Uh-oh… 🙂

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    • julie harms – Author

      Thank you for your comment Rebecca. I have chosen acrylics as my main medium simply because I do not really enjoy the smell of oil paint and also because I have no patience. I apply several layers of color in order to get just the right shade. If I had to use oil, that would take a considerable amount of time. I do use it when the weather warms up so I can open the window and air out my studio. I keep to small dimensions though. Thank you again for visiting my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts – it’s always interesting to hear more about the approach someone else takes 🙂 . I’m rather a coward with paint; haven’t used acrylics since school. But looking at your pictures, I feel the time is approaching…

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  3. Hi Julie, I enjoyed reading about you and your approach to what you do. I appreciate that you like to look at things that others either miss or don’t pay attention to. I enjoy your work very much.

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    • julie harms – Author

      Hi Carol, thank you for dropping by my blog and taking the time to write a comment, I appreciate. Things aren’t always as they seem, the more I observe the more i find beauty in the most insignificant things.

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    • julie harms – Author

      Thank you Karin. Writing about my work and the hows and the whys was not an easy thing to do. I thought for a long time that my paintings could speak for themselves. It is comments like yours that remind me of how wrong I was. I’m glad you took the time to read through my observations. Thank you again.

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  4. […] POST-IT: My first (and only) visit to Nagasaki, made while I was living in Japan, had a lasting impact. To this day I carry around images of the damage wreaked on that city from my visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum. But for Julie, who moved to Nagasaki from the United States to teach English, the city was the place of her rebirth as an artist. She often walked to this local park, and this painting is her tribute to its flowering mimosa trees. For a moment her painting makes me forget the pain this city endured, along with the horror for war it engenders. Though one can never lose sight of the darkness, it’s possible to be touched by these simple, beautiful trees. OUR CONNECTION: We are mutual blogging admirers. Julie, btw, has now moved to France, where she continues her work as a fine artist (hence the French title of her painting). SEE ALSO: Julie’s portfolio site. […]

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  5. milosivanskistudio

    I think what I really admire about your work is what seems to me to be an almost illustrative quality enhanced not only through the subjects but also the clean lines of your compositions and the choices you’ve made with your colour palette. There’s a story in each piece. I firmly believe that art is a form of communication and here you have managed that task with skill and beauty.

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    • julie harms – Author

      I am so glad you have seen this. Each one of my paintings is an illustrated pîece of my life. On the subject of art, I completely agree with you, art is a language, a means to communicate without words. Thank you very much for your comment.

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  6. Love your work, intricate detail in simplified forms. Check out Alex Katz’s work (you may already have, I recently saw an exhibition of his so he’s still in mind). Keep at it, you are a true talent!

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    • julie harms – Author

      Thanks Craig. It seems you and I have a similar approach to art which is to illustrate our daily life. Everything being unique because seen only through our eyes, at a particular moment of our day. Again thanks a lot for your comment. I am currently working on pictures I took while traveling around Scotland. Yesterday I put Scotland aside and began painting a view from my window at dusk. The skies of September have a special hue to them. There is this pinkish orange shade next to dark blue greys and blacks which make me pause all the time.

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  7. The way you describe your journey of artistic development resonates with my own. I’ve just come back to Europe after spending a year in China, where I worked as a teacher of English 🙂 All the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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