Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Julia Kottal: Artist Interview

Underlit Clouds, 2009, 20" x 20",oil on canvas, 
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Museum purchase, 
Bertha Cowles Quarton Fund with gift of the artist, 2010.071.

1. How did you come to be an artist? 

I became a serious artist as an adult. My 'growing up' years were consumed with jobs, education and family. I was fortunate to know always I would do something in my life related to the liberal arts, whether it be musical, writing or in visual arts.  I found that was a gift actually to pull in earlier life experiences to my work now as an artist. I've always done volunteer work of some sort with art, designing logos, doing commission work and creating for people, but I think in a playful way I recognized the title of 'artist' when someone asked me to a doodle a logo for a business card, where I had total control of the outcome, and they actually paid me. It was a triumphant moment.  

"Mantle of Plates",  60" x 60", oil on canvas

2. What has been your biggest challenge? 

Without a doubt it's time, or finding enough of it. Not sure why that now that our children are out of the house I seem to have less time. I have notebooks and journals full of drawings and renderings that I can't wait to take the inspiration from and make art!  I find that my other job has it's plus and minuses too. The plus is I'm fortunate to work in a field that is all about the arts, so I'm constantly surrounded by creativity and can pull from that, endless possibilities. The downside, if it really is a downside, is that I find there is so much inspiration involved I can't possibly do all that I want from those moments.   

"My Mexico", 36" x 48", oil on canvas

3. What would your "dream" exhibit space be or project be? 

My dream exhibit would be a space where my artwork is given a lot of negative space around it. Because I'm a large scale painter, many times my work is exhibited close to each other due to limited gallery space.  When I paint I can see the space in my brain where I'd like it to be installed to have maximum impact. I did have an exhibit at Coe College a few years ago and it was very close to this dream when a large 60" square was on a wall in solitariness. Even though I lived with the painting in process, I was a bit overwhelmed to see it bathed with light, in a  silent room, alone on it's own wall and talking back to me (in a weird kind of way) that I was correct in it's composition and size.   

"Grey Road West", 24'"x 36", oil on canvas

4. What inspires you? 

Nature and it's unpredictably excite me. I love a great storm or a wind gust  that makes trees sway and sing. I'm curious and unscrupulously attracted to weather and how it affects the world. Must have been growing up in rural Michigan where we had the full gambit of climate; tornadoes, blizzards, sultry summer, all of it. I am also inspired by the idea of color and it's combinations in nature; natural and unnatural, due to climate, to weather and to events such as floods, earthquakes and storms. Personal journeys of childhood with my family all tie together in ways that compel me to tell the story in paint. Making the hue/color work with the composition in a thoughtful way that translates into a feeling of what I want the viewer to see, or what I want to say is my goal. 

"Dark in Northeast Iowa" ,  24" x 36", oil on canvas

5. What do you like best about being an artist? 

I think by saying your an artist, opens up a lot of freedom in how people perceive you. I can be as free and expressive as I want with a minimum  of raised eyebrows.  I remember throwing on an old pair of jeans with  holes in them and an odd sweatshirt for lack of nothing else clean to wear,  and being greeted by an acquaintance of, "looks like you've been painting today", this was a free pass. I love that my quirkiness can be somewhat validated or forgiven by the claim of 'artist'.  Being  a  creative thinker, bringing that and showing confidence to think independently is a by product of being an artist to me,  I covet that ability to have learned and have the opportunity to pass it on in my work and in my life. I find that expressing my view through art is fulfilling. I'm still learning to take risks  and I regard that as a gift.   

"Probably Arizona", 24" x36", oil on canvas

6. If a person wants to see more of your work or purchase it...where can they go? 

Currently I have work at Campbell Steele Galleries in Marion, Iowa Artist Gallery and the Chait Gallery in Iowa City, the Quad Cities Art Center in Rock Island, Ill.,  and the Scene Gallery at the National Harbor, Maryland.  I have a website which challenges that lack of time thing to keep updated at www.juliakottal.com. If you around town, you will see my work in the Allaint Tower Mr.Beans lobby, Kirkwood, Coe College and with the CRMA permanent collections. Work that I'm especially proud of working on with students of the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy, (I am the current Art Director) are on exhibit at the Alliant Tower public space in Cedar Rapids.  

"Red River Gorge", 24" x 36", oil on canvas


  1. Great lush, rich colours in Julia's work Mary ... enjoyed reading about her work...thank you!

  2. I just saw this work in person and it was LUSH! It was such a treat to see the work live. She is a real inspiration to me. And the idea of being inspired by weather. I have been thinking a lot about that lately as our weather here in Iowa changes.

  3. Very interesting interview of a great artist paint. I love his style of painting, mixing colors with very risky and very wisely, I would say very generous and uninhibited performance. I love your painting.
    Muy interesante la entrevista de una gran artista de la pintura. Me encanta su estilo de pintura, con la mezcla de colores muy arriesgada y con mucho acierto, yo diría que muy generosa y desinhibida en la ejecución. Me gusta mucho su pintura.

  4. Leovi, Julie is an amazing artist and fantastic human being. You are so right, she does take artistic risks. And it is well worth it!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love hearing from you!