Friday, 9 March 2012

Interview with Julie St-Amand

I’ve kept an eye out for Julie St-Amand’s work since 2006, when I first encountered her at Galerie Estampe Plus in Quebec City. I love when an artist takes a traditional subject-matter and places it within a contemporary context. Indeed, St-Amand does not depict the cookie-cutter cityscape we are accustomed to seeing in galleries. Rather she focuses on the decay of the urban landscape: the abandoned warehouse, weathered pylons or forsaken buildings.

The artist in her studio
What is a typical day in the studio?
When I get to work, I always end up doing too many things at the same time! There are so many distractions – time flies! It takes me at least an hour before I am settled in and focused. I love to take the time to paint. As to how much time I spend in the studio, I let the painting decide! 

Tell us more about encaustic and how you use wax.
Ah, bees wax… It smells delicious! It is the key element to my painting. I melt the wax on a hot plate and paint directly with pre-coloured wax. I also use untainted wax which I melt in a deep fryer! Bees wax is such sensual material. It has such great transparencies, such luminosity, and depth... I couldn’t live without it!

Who or what influenced your artistic production?
Many people have influenced me. Still today, I am continuously seeking inspiration from the people and artists who surround me. In terms of naming those who have motivated my current production, I’d say Edward Hopper, for his magnificent cityscapes, and Joanne Mattera, author of Encaustic Painting, since she was such a guiding force in my learning of encaustic... But to be truthful, what influenced me the most are probably the people who believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. They are the ones who pushed me to follow my dreams and make them come true.           

What motivated you to become an artist?
When you think about it, it’s a little naive to dream of becoming an artist. But from one diploma to another, from one city to another, it feels as though life brought me to this point. I fell in love with the profession. Today, after seven years of studying visual arts and eight years as a professional artist, I have to admit that being an artist is me! It’s that simple.

Pilône I, encaustic on wood, 24 x 30 (Dimension Plus)

Which artists do you admire?
Betty Godwin, Joseph Beuys, Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Antoni Tàpies, and several others whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I guess I would be an art restorer... or maybe a swing dancer!  

List your top three songs and why:
Take me home by Ian Kelly. It’s romantic, melancholic... and has such a wonderful melody. I also love Tom Waits, especially I don’t want to grow up. And finally, Sta Zitto : Random Recipe. It’s refreshing and inspiring!

Chantier derrière maison ancestral, encaustic on canvas, 30 x 30 (Dimension Plus)

Post scriptum: This interview was originally conducted in French. If you would like the original text, please send me an email at and I’ll send you a PDF copy. If you pass by Quebec City in March, check Julie St-Amand's exhibition Matière-Mémoire at the Gallery Entre Parenthèse.