Artist Statement - Julia Penny
Canadian Painting and Drawing Artist
“I create – that’s what I do.” - Julia Penny
As an artist, I am happiest when I am painting and drawing.
After thinking about a subject, I feel compelled to make it a reality using pencils or paints. It could be a happy memory of a sunny day on a beach, or it might be a trending news topic that creates inspiration within me.
I’ve been known to just disappear and come up with a drawing or painting to express my thoughts. In 2013, when the centre of Lac-Megantic in Quebec, Canada was blown up by a runaway oil freight train, my reaction was to draw portraits of the people who lost their lives. I needed to memorialize the 47 victims – ranging from children to seniors – who were suddenly taken from this life. I then sent the drawings to the town to be given to the victims’ surviving family members.
In 1966 when I was a child living in England, I remember hearing a news story on the radio about a town called Aberfan in Wales. A colliery spoil tip slid down into the town, with the school in its direct path. Almost all the children and teachers perished, and the horror of that event was, and still, is etched on my mind. I have not delved into that memory yet, but will eventually capture it using artistic expression.
An immigrant to Canada, Canada’s 150th year of Confederation in 2017 was especially important to me. I wanted to let my fellow Canadians know that I am proud and grateful to be a citizen in this country. I drew 151 portraits of immigrants and their families, with their amazing tales of fortitude and daring written beside them. Entitled “From All Walks of Life,” the book highlights how we are all ordinary people leading extraordinary lives.
I enjoy the uniqueness found in all people and objects and consider that worth celebrating. Commemorating a loved one, a place, or an event that has touched our souls is not only important; it’s necessary. We are our own experiences – they are written on us in the looks in our eyes and on our wrinkles. We cherish the places and people that bring back fond memories, joy, and peace and need to remember and record those memories.
If you’re curious, then let’s begin a journey into art together!