For 17 years, Julie Houck traveled the world as a professional location photographer. Working in many diverse locations throughout Europe, Asia and across the United States, provided Houck with an invaluable opportunity to increase her understanding of composition and the elements of design. Houck’s career as a photographer also instilled in her a fascination with the powerful effects of light.
In 1995, Houck decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a painter. “I decided to redirect and pursue what I truly loved.” As a contemporary landscape painter working in oils and encaustics, Houck aspires to capture not only the scene but also the moment and mood, relying on her study of the classical principles of directly observing color, light, and form in nature.
Houck shares, “As a contemporary landscape painter working in oils and encaustics, I aspire to convey not only the scene but also the moment and mood. The moment is fleeting but the painting allows us to live in that moment a bit longer, to linger, to reflect, to contemplate, to enjoy. I am inspired by the interplay of light on the landscape which is ever elusive and always changing. Painting softly allows me the opportunity to recreate that one particularly special moment when the land, light, and atmosphere seamlessly fuse.
Reflecting a serendipitous moment in time can be, however, a deceivingly slow and deliberate process. Both of the media I prefer, oils and encaustic, involve applying layers upon layers of paint. And even though encaustic, painting with hot pigment-colored wax, is known as an especially process-intensive medium, every layer spontaneously changes the piece, so it evolves over time with a life of its own. I find this element of working intriguing.
Simultaneously, my work in oils is highly influenced by my early classical training– particularly the study of light on form. Each landscape is painted in transparent layers with sometimes up to 40 layers of paint in order to recreate the subtle play of light on the landscape as well as to control the incremental changes in tonality.
As an artist, I approach each painting believing that it is not enough to paint the literal view. My goal is to also capture the essence of the landscape and hopefully connect you viscerally to that place and time.”
Houck has studied with contemporary realist painters at the Atelier of Classical Realism in San Francisco with David Hardy, the Academy of Fine Art in Seattle with Anthony Ryder and most recently, in France, at the L’Ecole Albert Defois with Ted Seth Jacobs. Houck studied en plein air with John Cosby, Kevin MacPherson, Don Demers, and Kim English.
Her landscapes reflect the influence of these artists as she hones her classical technique of painting in numerous transparent layers in order to recreate the subtle play of light on the scene. Her desire to capture the essence of the landscape is evolving into compositions dissolving into only the barest, most minimal components—the sky, horizon, and land.