Julia Swartz, a lifetime resident of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, has always had an eye for things of beauty. Whether it was genetic, her environment, or both, she has always been interested in art, flower gardens and decorating her home. Even when she was a little girl, she would borrow her mother’s oil paints and begin developing her skills in applying paint to canvas. While going through grade school and high school, Julia took advantage of what few art courses were offered. As a teenager, Julia entered some of her early work in the local county fair and she took home the blue ribbon and best of show award. Julia has continued in her mother’s tradition of planting and maintaining beautiful flowerbeds around her home. These flower gardens have become the inspiration of many of Julia’s current works and according to Julia, there is no better therapy for the winter blues than getting her fingers dirty on a warm spring day.
After graduating from
High School in 1970, Julia briefly studied oil painting with the late Jay McVey of Ephrata PA, but marriage and children absorbed most of her time for the next decade and a half. It wasn’t until Julia got the last or her three children off to school, that she began to get more serious about her artistic talents. Julia joined the Lancaster County Art Association (LCAA) and began studies with tutors, Ann Fields, Fred Witmer, Dr. Ronald Sykes and Lynn Yancha and attended work shops such as those offered by Zoltan Szabo. Julia also switched from oil paints to watercolor as her primary medium. As a member of the LCAA she entered her first competition in twenty years when she submitted her “Queen Ann’s Lace” in the amateur division of the LCAA art show and took first place. Since Julia had no formal art training she was again required to enter the amateur division of the next competition held by LCAA and proceeded to take first place again with her piece titled “The Window Box.” Upon receiving two consecutive first place showings LCAA notified Julie that she qualified to enter the professional division of competition. Her next entry in the LCAA professional division was Titled “Thinking,” a portrait of a pensive, young black boy. With this portrait Julia was awarded best of show.
Julia was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s large cell lymphoma in November 1999, but after many prayers by her church, family, and friends, and after 6 months of chemotherapy treatments, the cancer was gone. Since the cancer experience, Julia has taken her artistic talent to an even higher level.
A trip to New York Art Expo and several other
New York galleries in 2001 was the spark that began a serious study of oil impressionism on canvas. True to her self taught ways, she armed herself with stacks of art books, and magazines, and made many more visits to Museums and galleries observing and absorbing all she could. Thus began her current look of very textured, bold, color on color, palette knife, impressionistic oil on canvas paintings. Julia loves to explore, create, and try new things so you will rarely ever see her paint the same thing twice. “It would be boring to paint it again,” says Julia. Thus her subjects are wide and varied, from landscapes to cats, flowers, figures and portraits. Who knows what will be next.
Since 2003 Julia has exhibited and sold her work in over 50 juried art exhibitions and won numerous awards. Peoples Choice Award from Lancaster Museum of Art 2005, 1st place Oil Painting from Bel Air Arts Festival 2005, Best of Show Canandaigua NY Arts Festival 2004, to name a few. Julia has been commissioned to paint many subjects to the satisfaction of her customers including President Judge Michael Georgelis, whose portrait now hangs alongside the other past President Judges in the
Lancaster county courthouse. While it is rewarding to see the pleased looks of customers as they view their commission for the first time, what Julia loves most is a blank canvas and an idea in her mind’s eye, an opportunity with no limits or boundaries to create an image that creates a feeling when looked upon.
Even though Julia has added the medium of oil on canvas, she has not neglected her watercolors. The subject and the feeling Julia wants to create will determine whether she will use oil on canvas or watercolor on paper. “I want you to feel something when you look at my art” says Julia.