We are always on the lookout for budding artists, and it was love at first sight when we saw Julianne Strom’s work this summer at the Boston SoWa Open Market. Julianne is the artist behind Moss and Blue and her focus is on creating beautiful abstract paintings – all of which she says embody an underlying sense of play and experimentation.
We sat down with Julianne to talk about her inspiration as an artist, how she personally connects with her audience, and where she sees her work going in the future.
“Most days I feel like I am trying to uncover a painting that is already formed and just needs to be realized, similar to how Michelangelo felt about carving into a block of stone: ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’”
– Julianne, Moss and Blue.
How did you turn your passion into a career?
I took a few painting classes while earning my Master’s degree at MassArt in Boston, which culminated in a collection of paintings with no space to store them in my tiny Fenway apartment. I decided on a whim to put them up for sale on Etsy and was completely shocked when the paintings started to sell. That was the first time it even crossed my mind that I might be able to earn a living from my art.
What has been the most challenging part of your development as an artist?
I’m still grappling with the idea of needing to have a ‘signature style.’ For me, the joy that comes from painting has always been in response to the experimental nature of it; the excitement of not knowing how something is going to look if I do this, or what will happen if I add that. When you’re more interested in the process than you are the results, it can be almost impossible to develop a consistent painting style.
What has been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of my work is using social media to share it with such a wide and engaged audience. Painting can be an extremely isolating practice, so being able to post my work on my Instagram has added a deeper layer to my work. I document the different stages of developing my paintings, so people often end up with a deeper connection to the finished pieces. Creating that interactive space and fostering discussions have both added a new dimension to paintings and my love for my work.
What do you hope that people feel when they look at your art?
One of my biggest goals is to encourage viewers to feel comfortable looking at abstract paintings without feeling like they need to know what it’s a picture of. Abstraction can be confusing and frustrating for people who were taught that art is meant to be a realistic, like a photograph.
How do you inspire yourself in times of “artist’s block”?
I play a game I invented where the goal is to create the ugliest painting I possibly can. Approaching a canvas with no intention of making it beautiful is incredibly freeing and gets me back to the soul of my work. Almost all of my best paintings started out this way, now that I think about it! And when all else fails, I put on Beyoncé and hope for the best.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a large series of abstract paintings in preparation for the holiday markets at which I’ll be exhibiting in Boston. They are mostly in cool tones – blues, purples, greens – with some golden highlights. I’m also thinking about starting a smaller series of abstracted landscapes for the winter season.
Where can we purchase your work?