Monthly Archives: August 2014

Art as Comfort

My current drawing-in-progress in August 2014

My current drawing-in-progress in August 2014

The nightmare week I mentioned last Sunday has continued into a fortnight of flux.  I often feel nervous coming up to a solo exhibition and this is no exception…except that this time it is much worse!

What can I do with myself leading up to D-day…or I should say “O” day – exhibition opening 4th September?  The answer to my question is I can draw even though my brain is fractured into many pieces.

Working on my art may be stimulating, challenging, satisfying, annoying, frustrating, defeating and sometimes it can be, more than anything else, comforting.  The drawing I am working on now is managing to give my mind some periods of peace during my current mental maelstrom.

I plan to call this drawing “The Art of Elegance”.   It won’t be ready in time for the Elements Art Gallery exhibition.  However it is good to be working on something beyond it…something for an unknown and positive future.

I’ve saved Katsutomo (the most fun part to draw) until last.




Young Artist, Old Artist

Satsuki-san Portrait of Satsuki-san in coloured pencils. 285 x 375 mm. August 2014

Portrait of Satsuki-san in coloured pencils. 285 x 375 mm. August 2014

Do you know what ‘gei‘ means?  It means ‘art‘.  A geiko is an arts person.  Maiko and geiko are practitioners of traditional Japanese arts.   (‘Mai‘ of maiko means ‘dance‘.)   When teenage girls start out as shikomi (the first step towards becoming maiko then geiko) they learn to play instruments, sing, dance, study tea ceremony and write calligraphy.  They don’t just learn basic skills and then stop.  For their whole careers they refine and perfect their artistic skills.  Each will find her particular artistic strength, growing and specializing in that one – just like any other artist, just like I do!  Art education is lifelong and artists relentlessly strive for higher levels of understanding and achievement.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been drawing a portrait of Satsuki-san.  She is the ‘young artist’ of this post.  She posed for many photos at the ozashiki I attended on 27th June.  I used one of the photos as reference for my drawing.  It was such a pleasure to see her smiling face each day on my drawing board.

The ‘old artist’ refers to me.  A short promotional film was made for my upcoming exhibition “Life is Beautiful”.  If you have 2:78 minutes to spare, I invite you to view by clicking on this link,  Life is Beautiful – Julie Podstolski .   The film was commissioned by Elements Art Gallery and directed by Mustafa Al Mahdi; co-directed by Bonnie Stewart.

I don’t just love maiko and geiko because they have pretty faces and wear colourful costumes.  There is something essential at the core of their world that I recognize. The heart of their (and my) world is the same; art.

Young artist, old artist Satsuki-san and me. (I am a geijutsuka.)

Young artist, old artist
Satsuki-san and me. (I am a geijutsuka.)

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Life isn’t perfect but it can be beautiful nonetheless

Life is Beautiful Coloured pencils on paper 2014

Life is Beautiful
My coloured pencil drawing of street art in Paris.  2014

It was this piece of street art on a crumbling wall in Paris which inspired the name of my upcoming exhibition “Life is Beautiful: Fremantle, Kyoto, Paris”.  When I saw the tiny image on the wall with its words I thought, “That’s my message as well”.  It fascinated me that street artist, Zalez, chose to put those words next to a figure who was in a precarious position; holding on for dear life to the ropes of a balloon.  Whether she is ascending or descending is uncertain.  Her body language looks vulnerable and courageous simultaneously.

This life is precarious and finite.  Who knows what fates await us and think of the minefields we have already crossed at various times of our lives.

Despite all our problems, the wonder of life is all around.  All it takes is openness and sensitivity to look.  My exhibition states this simple message.  It is a reminder to myself and to you to appreciate our surroundings from the humble to the spectacular.  I would like the message to be my legacy.  I hope that people will be inspired by the three words just as I was when I saw them on that Paris wall.  They stopped me in my tracks.

The drawings in the exhibition are a manifestation of the joy I experience when I walk with my camera and compose through my lens – both here and overseas.  When I stroll just looking, eyes and mind ready to receive whatever I come across, I feel deep happiness…and again in my studio when I create the drawings with coloured pencils.

There really were five blue chalk numerals to the right of the red balloon on the Paris wall.  When I drew them in I changed them to 31759.  That’s my birthday.  I have chosen to become the dangling figure.  I don’t know what is ahead but I am trying to enjoy the trip and be brave.

I contacted Zalez on Facebook and showed him the drawing I had made of his work plus the blog post I had written.  I wrote that I hoped he didn’t mind my making a drawing of his street art.  He replied, “Hi dear, Thank you for contacting me!  Sure you can use the image you found in Paris.  The work in the street is for everybody, it’s free!  Best, Zalez”.

Just the other day I heard an author (who had had a turbulent life) being interviewed on the radio.  She said, “Life isn’t perfect, but it can be beautiful nonetheless”.

Life is Beautiful: Fremantle, Kyoto, Paris September 2014

Exhibition invitation

You can see all 28 drawings for the exhibition here on my website.