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April Mind of the Artist: Julie Byrne

April 1, 2020

Nature is the focus of my artwork. It is a world of flowering plants and vegetation inspired by backyard gardens, and those that border the city streets, the public parks of Washington D.C. and the Botanical Garden. 

I approach each drawing as a portrait. I discovered early on that I enjoyed drawing the details of the plants so much, that often the plant did not survive the time it took for me to draw it.  And so I began to use photography to capture the initial impression of my subjects and then to determine the structure and the focus. Spending time with the real subject however remains an essential element for me. There is no substitute for observing the details that can get lost in a photograph. 

Patio Bloom Summer Bloom

Colored pencil is my medium of choice for making the majority of my drawings. It offers both the  precision I crave and portability when it is needed. For many years it was the easiest medium for me to use when I was traveling more than I was staying at home as I juggled a career of working on board passenger trains with my artwork. Using colored pencils offered a way to stop and start a drawing during those years. Carrying my drawings during those early Amtrak years so that I could work on them on a layover, did not last long. It did however lay the groundwork for the process that I began, in layering more and more layers of color to create a highly colored opaque surface. And thanks to those countless road trips, I had the delight to be able to visit museums I could only have imagined .

Today I continue to use colored pencils in most of my drawings, in a body of work that includes oil paintings, screen prints, and photographs.

Blue Geranium

Though my drawings are botanical in inspiration and realistic in depiction, it is really the abstraction within each of the subjects that continues to challenge me for the next drawing.

For more info, please visit www.juliebyrne.com.

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