Here is the final part of our 3 part interview with EiR NYC Friend and Artist Velia De Iuliis.Eir NYC: Is there something you love to munch on while you work?
Velia: I absolutely love crackers and chips. So I try to find a very clean version that is baked, maybe with avocado oil, and that are organic. A lot of that kind of food isn’t necessarily good for you, but for me it’s a very satiating feeling and there’s something about salty, crunchy that’s delicious.
What’s your studio space like? Messy? Minimal? Somewhere in between?
My studio space is somewhere in between. I need a good little mess to really feel like I’m in my creative nest and getting into the workflow. If it’s too organized, then I feel it’s a bit sterile and I can’t actually tap into a creative space. But I don’t like it to be overwhelmingly messy, where I feel that it draws my attention more to that as opposed to my work, so it’s kind of this fine balance in the middle.
How has your style changed over time? Have you always loved flowers?
I’d say my style has changed just because of experience and interest. I started my painting world much more animal focused. I was still trying to find my creative voice and allowing myself to let go. I have this weird struggle between just following my gut and feeling like I need to have structure; and so it’s this ebbing and flowing part of my personal journey. In the beginning years I was kind of in love with the animal kingdom and that was very much the inspiration part. I jumped into flora because I realized that we inherently gravitate more to the animal world. I think that’s because with eye contact comes a sense of connection, and I think the floral kingdom doesn’t have that as much. So I felt this need to address the endangered species of the plant kingdom and highlight them. Also the ones that are flourishing as well, not just endangered, but to give them all a voice where they might not have one, or we cannot understand it. So that has led me to where I am today. But yes, I’ve always loved flowers. I was always in the garden, always outside as a kid, there was no time that I was not happier being outside than I was inside; so that’s definitely part of it.
Do you paint from live flowers or reference photos? What about animals?
Both. I often will photograph flora that I admire and love. In my house I make myself bouquets and so on, or I’ll set up a still life setting and photograph it or have it by my easel while I paint. But a lot of the subject matter that I’m painting are endangered and from foreign lands; and so I probably will never get to see them in the wild. For those, reference photos are pretty crucial. But the way I work around that, because I don’t want to copy from the photographs, is that I understand the anatomy of flora enough know that I can create my own compositions and angles with the plants and have reference shots to use for texture and color and all that kind of stuff. But the way they’re laid out is very much how I see them best fitting the piece.Do you ever get hand cramps from painting such detailed pictures?
Yes, my hands cramp when I paint. I’m dealing with something called tennis arm right now, which results in my forearm having a ton of pain in there. My wrists and hands don’t hurt as much as my forearms. Because I use very fine paint brushes, I’ve started having different kinds of grips I put around the paint brush so my fingers are further apart, and therefore more relaxed. I also love using Eir NYC Rolling Liniment to help ease the pain. It’s natural and it really works well. I also love their Post Session Salts to put in a bath and have a total body relaxation experience. I’m also working with different types of therapies to counter the pain in my arm. But yes, unfortunately that’s just part of being a creative.
Do you travel to specific places to get inspiration and/or flower photos?
Yes, whenever I’m traveling, I am photographing continuously what I see. The joke is usually when I go to foreign places, I send my mom more photos of the plant species or animal species than the actual place! But yes, it’s part of the collection process, almost like a collage of memory and experience through the mother nature of a place that then dictates my work, how it shapes and where it goes and how the future of it evolves.
Would you ever consider painting people, or is all about flora and fauna?
I have considered painting people, and I did during thesis in my university years. I enjoyed it very much and it was very much part of the schooling that I had. Humans are very tricky, just as other species are. Maybe I’ll come back to it, but for right now I like to give those that cannot speak for themselves a voice; so, flora and fauna have more of a pull for me than humans. I think we have a lot to learn from nature and we need to protect it, and this is the way that I can feed my creative practice and my mission to protect the planet in, in one.