"When I am lost in my work, my mind is off of everything else and the troubles of our world seem to disappear." – Julie Rolwing
While she was always interested in art, Julie Rolwing only began painting about four years ago through a class at Gilda’s Club of Louisville. Rolwing had undergone treatment for breast cancer followed by a back injury that has left her permanently disabled. She endeavors to paint every day and has sold several through social media but, because of her physical disabilities, has yet to exhibit in a gallery.
You started painting only four years ago. Tell us how and why you got started.
I started painting after having participated in an art therapy class at Gilda’s Club that I became involved with after my treatment for breast cancer. I had been attending the class for a year or so before I broke down and bought some paints of my own and set up a studio. It was through this class that I discovered that I was indeed a pretty talented painter.
I have always been artistic but never really painted. My father and brother were painters and I think I felt intimidated by them. Though I studied art in my early years at Western Kentucky University, I was more into textiles. Painting, to me seemed too messy! I regret that I did not finish my art education and wish I knew more about history and technique. Though I seldom follow rules in my painting, as I believe that the best work often comes by accident, I think it’s good to have the foundation.
Would you describe your painting as therapeutic? What does it mean to you?
Yes, definitely! Sometimes I feel as though I go through withdrawal if too many days go by and I haven’t painted something, I try to paint every day - at the very minimum I paint on the weekends.
Who or what inspires you now?
I continue to be inspired by my late father and often while I paint, I can feel his presence. Family members have told me that my work looks so much like his that it is hard to tell the difference. I consider that the greatest of compliments! My friend and mentor, Mary Scott Blake, who facilitates the class at Gilda’s Club, also continually inspire me. While most of the time I jump ahead of her instruction and go way off the page, I have learned so much from her. I would not be painting today if it had not been for her time and dedication. Watching others create also inspires me. Each March I facilitate a charity-painting workshop to benefit Gilda’s Club of Louisville and I am so inspired by the work of the participants, I spend several months painting from that inspiration. 2017 will be our third year to hold this benefit.
What frightens you the most?
I think what frightens me the most is the uncertain economy – while we have bounced back from the last recession, the election has brought more uncertainty. The lack of compassion I have seen, scares the heck out of me – though in a good way it has sent me into my studio more so than it might have otherwise.
What are you reading right now?
I AM A BOOK JUNKY! I have 1628 books on my Kindle and 587 on my Nook. I easily have at least five books going at one time. I like mostly humorous novels set in the South – I just read one by Anne River Siddons that I enjoyed. That said, about every fifth book or so I feel needs to be edifying in some way – either spiritually or historically. Last week I read a biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe that I found to be extremely fascinating.
If you were given $100,000 what would do with it?
Buy a new car and then hit the road and travel the United States for a couple of months staying in Bed & Breakfast Inns in small towns across the country.
What does art mean to you?
Art is not only a means of expression for me it is also a mean of escape. When I am lost in my work, my mind is off of everything else and the troubles of our world seem to disappear.
What do you feel is your greatest flaw?
That’s easy – I buy too many books! I also have too many projects going at one time and I am impatient with my work. I could never work on a painting for more than two days, which is why I like small watercolors. I have also been told I don’t charge enough for my pieces but the way I look at it, I do them to share with other people and not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting. I feel like if I invest fifty dollars in a painting and sell it for $100 - $150, I’ve made nice profit and I am not really trying to earn a living.
What's your favorite place to visit?
That is hard to say since I am not that well traveled. I have been to NYC and Chicago and LA. I have to say I was in total awe of Chicago. Places I want to visit include New Orleans, Savannah, GA, the Carolinas, Martha’s Vineyard and Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
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