Learn more about Julia Contacessi, the artist that created statement painting “Saint Helena”
Julia Contacessi creates modern abstract art with a focus on color, texture and composition.
And tranquility. Her artwork is a glorious respite from the busy and often frantic modern lifestyle.
“My style is single-minded and focused on the simplicity of beauty in the moment. My goal is to drown out the noise and clutter to find a sense of calm. The end-result is clean, fresh and modern.”
Treating her home as a studio and modern sanctuary, Contacessi works in silence. “My home is my nest and sanctuary —where I'm most comfortable — so I can explore and be creative.” She says, “I actually love silence while I work. I can’t handle too much going on. I try to let my mind wonder and not think, but instead work from instinct and the quiet helps.”
This focus on creating a calm and comforting atmosphere drives her creation of art. With a passion for bringing the ever-evolving colors and textures of nature onto a canvas, Contacessi aims to create art that transforms interior spaces into personal retreats.
Creating Statement Art
At 60 inches wide by 72 inches tall, Saint Helena is one of Contacessi’s larger works. She says, “when I work on anything this big I always have a few aches and pains following, the ones you feel after a tough workout! I'm not that tall (at a whopping 5ft and 1/2 inch) so to reach the middle of the canvas I need to straddle and stretch into a sort of ‘painting yoga’ poses to get my mark making just right.”
“Because I like to work with high flow acrylic paints I will lay my canvas on the floor and move around it, working from all sides. My strokes are gestural and I seek very fluid movements from my compositions so I like to zone out and just react to what is happening in the moment with the paint.”
Influence of Land + Sea
Contacessi is influenced by the landscape and the sea of her home in Norwalk, Connecticut. “I love the fluidity and sense of calm that comes from the sea, while at the same time there is energy and movement.”
“I’m fascinated by how the ocean provides an escape and can transport you to a meditative, dream-like place. My most recent work explores the water in abstracted forms to capture the fluidity of time. I see this recent series as a progression of my earlier landscape work—it’s almost as if I am trying to capture the same subject matter and inspiration in another form.”
‘Saint Helena’ is a vast and expansive view of the coastline, this abstract transcends time, taking one back to the remote volcanic outpost of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exquisite exile. From the perspective perched atop Jacob’s Ladder or Diana’s Peak, imagine taking in the dramatic views of the South Atlantic Ocean.
An Artist’s Obsession
Contacessi reveals her obsession with detail, “I initially worked on Saint Helena over the course of a week in August 2015. I reworked the bottom right corner a few times and then I put it aside. I liked the bones, but it wasn't quite right.
It sat for over 6 months before I was in the right head space to go back and add to it, to get it just right.
I made a few additions concerning on the upper half after I was happy with the bottom movement. Dialing up the light and sun effect, it was completed.”
Textures + Color
Textures play an integral role in Contacessi’s work. It’s not uncommon for her to obsess over the texture of a stone found along a walk and to be fully absorbed by the abundance of contrasts in nature. The coast is a great example where the fluidity of water collides with the rough gritty texture of sand. “I try to mimic that [contrast] through metallic mixing into very fluid acrylics.”
This subtle and foundational focus on texture allows Contacessi to create uniquely complex, but simple pieces of art. In “some of my pieces, I’ll work up a modeling paste and play with that. Sometimes I’ll actually imprint into a piece a pattern and let that set, knowing it’ll be some kind of a structural element in the background of a piece.”
Despite an attraction to textures, color is the starting point of most of her work. “I dream about color palettes. That’s usually what starts a piece for me. I’ll obsess about a color palette.”
Saint Helena features relaxing blues that contrast with shining metallics. To read more about metallics in Contcessi’s work, read **this blog post**.
Artwork in the Home
“I want to feel calmed and welcomed when I look at a [piece of art] work,” Contacessi said. “People put my work in their homes and your home is your sanctuary. I want to be a calming experience that soothes your soul.”
Contacessi models her artwork after the beauty of nature. She transforms the gentle play of light and texture of the world onto a canvas, bringing a sense of energy and beauty into homes. With a well-placed piece of art, the space is transformed into a welcoming and inspiring personal retreat. An escape from the frantic pace of the modern world.
The birth of Saint Helena
“Saint Helena was large in scale and gentle in movement, a contradiction of sorts and larger than life in my mind, just like my kiddo. Seemed fitting to capture them both together. Only after she was complete did she get her name and fully come to life.”
Saint Helena is available as a print in sizes ranging from 12” x 15” to 48” x 60” and can be hung horizontally or vertically.