A Creative Life: Julianna Bright

by Cat on February 1, 2010

When artist and illustrator Julianna Bright emailed some of her work to me, I became an instant fan. I kept staring at the blank wall in my hallway and daydreaming about one of her pieces filling it. Gorgeous detail, colors, imagery…and subject matter that seems to explore both the whimsical and deep, dark splendours of imagination and childhood. Read on to hear about her life as artist and mom. Her website contains her gallery of work, but if you want to purchase one of her beautiful works or prints click here!


Tell us a little bit about your background
I’ve been playing music for a long time, and have always been crafty and a doodler. But I think of myself as a pretty classic late bloomer and only started painting in earnest and showing my work after my companion and I moved to Portland from San Francisco a little over 5 years ago. This was the first time in my life that I was able to look at my work as something more than a hobby and learned to be at peace with my progress.


How about your family?
My partner, Seth, and I collaborate musically. We have a band together called The Golden Bears and also sit in with various Portland artists (Mirah, Corin Tucker, Shelley Short). Seth is incredibly creative – an amazing chef and food writer, an incredibly lyrical musician. Unlike me, he’s also got an amazing mechanical mind and I often find myself bringing art problems to him for this marvelous perspective. Our little girl, Evelyn, will be 3 this March. And so far, YES, she seems to have many of her parents’ tendencies. We usually spend a good part of every day either painting or in mucking about in the basement rehearsal space. When I ask her what instrument she plays, she says, “I play the drums,” which is my first instrument, so naturally I’m charmed.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by plants and gardens and the natural world; by decay and regeneration. By my daughter and mom, who form these sort of book ends around my heart. By Seth,
who regularly makes me choke with laughter, who’s my compass, and who I will be listening to the same records with 20 years from now, giggling and gasping in all the same places.


What’s a typical day-in-your-life like?
A Typical day: Waking up is a pretty darling part of the day at the moment. Our kid usually climbs out of her bed around 5am and -without much disturbance- tucks into ours until about 7 or 7:30. (I know.) Lately the wake up routine has included pretending we’re rabbits or cats and talking about our dreams until we all head downstairs for breakfast. We get the girl fed and then one of us bikes her to preschool. I usually go straight into my studio after that – a lovely room whose windows are typically rain lashed this time of year – and work up until the girl’s school day wraps up. Her dad and I trade off the afternoons. Today was my day and I picked her up from preschool at 1pm and headed out for a play date with another very creative mom and daughter. Then a few errands. Once home, it’s dinner and bath and bedtime at 7 for the little girl.


The three of us always read books together before Seth and I tuck Evelyn in … and every night there is a bizarre ritual we must play out in which the last book is finished and both Seth and I pretend to have fallen deeply asleep. Evelyn then whispers to herself, “Oh my. What has happened? I will count to 10 and wake them.” And then she tackles us and we all laugh and then it’s really time for kisses and lights out. Part of insisting on early bed time for our little girl is so that Seth and I can have time together over dinner every night. And we do and it’s RAD. I need to confess as well that my partner – a trained chef – always makes dinner. (I know!) After dinner we usually head to our respective work spaces for a couple of hours and then to bed around 11 or so to read and retire. We also have a roommate who’s an amazing artist and whose rent is paid in babysitting, so not only can Seth and I keep up a decent performance schedule, but we also have regular dates! (I know!!!)

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