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Julia Loken

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Biography

Before starting to paint professionally, Julia worked for 20 years as a botanical illustrator, making detailed pen and ink illustrations for textbooks and botanical publications. She was originally employed at the Forest-Botany Herbarium at Oxford University, England, but then worked freelance when she moved with her husband to the United States for five years. This work continued when they returned to Oxford, now with two children.  In 1980, she turned her attention to watercolours, and with no formal training, began to paint. Her interest in botany, and her love of plants naturally led her to choose these forms as her main subjects, but she also enjoys painting a variety of country landscapes, both at home and abroad.

Indulging her passion for plant collecting, she and her husband have created a beautiful flower and vegetable garden around their 200 year old cottage in Eynsham, near Oxford, England. There she grows many of the plants that appear in her paintings. “I am endlessly fascinated by the beauty and diversity of plant forms,” she says, “and I attempt to express this wonder in my paintings by varying my style and technique, according to how I feel about each particular subject”. For more than 35 years she has volunteered to spend one morning each week teaching plant drawing to young children at her local village school. She also tries to instil in them a sense of wonder at the beauty of the natural world in our increasingly technological age.

Since starting to paint in 1980, she has had eighteen solo exhibitions in conjunction with Oxford Art Weeks, as well as four in Geneva, Switzerland, one in Dijon France, and two in galleries in Oxford. She has also participated in more than 100 group exhibitions. In 1998, one of her paintings was chosen by the Hunt Institute in Pittsburgh, U.S.A., for the International Exhibition of Botanical Art, which then toured the United States. In 1999, the Society of Botanical Artists chose five of her paintings for exhibition in the Westminster Galleries, London, and the following year she was invited to become a member of the society. She now participates regularly in their London exhibitions, and in 2006 won the award for the “Best Painting of Plants in their Natural Setting”.

In 2005 Julia had her first solo exhibition at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, and also undertook two large commissions for the Sultan of Oman. The American exhibition led to a feature article about her and her work in the American Artist Watercolor Magazine, and this in turn led to her being invited to teach a workshop to a group of artists in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2006. In June 2007 she had a larger solo exhibition at the Gerald Peters Gallery, followed by a third in June 2009, and group exhibitions in May and October 2010.