art / interview

Julia Holden’s animated portraiture

Words Lori Hakim

Julia Holden

Whilst studying at Elam School of Fine Arts (NZ), Julia Holden realised that sculpture and photography were gradually leading painting into extinction. With an affinity for the medium, Holden set out on a path to make painting relevant and “to get her art into the conversation”. Her portrait Muse is the first “digital painting” to be accepted as a finalist into the 2011 Doug Moran Portrait prize, indicating that she is no doubt heading in the right direction.

Holden’s broad artistic experience has allowed her to fuse the age-old art of portraiture with modern technology, thus creating alluring animated portraiture. She harbours an enviable skill set that divides her from her contemporaries, with an ability to work at an impressive pace (she can do 25 to 30 paintings in a 10 hour day) and to communicate action sequences extremely well. The former is due to over 10 years experience in the storyboarding field (including on TV series Xena and Hercules) which she describes as one of her greatest “assets”. 

Julia Holden (7)

One would imagine that the process of creating animated portraiture is extremely time consuming. However with an ability to paint exceedingly fast, Holden’s works are produced quicker than one might expect. Each portrait is made up of a series of oil paintings, often exceeding five hundred images. The portraits are individually painted, photographed and then finally projected as a moving image- the finished product taking up to one month to complete.

Perhaps this is due to Holden’s distinct process. Whereas most artists take months to develop a perfected resolution in their art, Holden uses all of her ‘prototypes’ in the one piece. Only one portrait remains as evidence when her work is completed, the others are wiped away after they are captured. 

Holden states that she’s a “jack of all trades” and a “master of none”. With a sly smile, she suggests that she has avoided the question whether the art she produces could be classified as “good or bad painting”. What is certain is that her work is very much alive, her concept fresh and indeed, mesmerising.

Julia Holden (3)

Muse + Painter by Julia Holden is part of the 2011 State of Design Festival.
Tuesday 26th July- Friday 29th of July.
10am- 4pm
South Melbourne Town Hall
Emerald Hill Precinct
208-220 Bank Street
South Melbourne