Julia von Metzsch Ramos

Making Waves

<em>Snowdrifts and Kettle Island</em>, 2016, oil on panel, 24 x 34 inches
Snowdrifts and Kettle Island, 2016, oil on panel, 24 x 34 inches


Julia von Metzsch Ramos is a MFA Painting Fellow at Boston University’s School of Visual Arts. When she’s not teaching at Boston University, she’s painting on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

“I’m ocean-oriented; a lot of my visual inspiration comes from the drama of the coast. I grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, in a house on Singing Beach. I was always playing around the ocean, always by the ocean. It’s a place where I experienced all ranges of feeling. It’s not just about the mystical, being out there and looking into the void of the open ocean but also about the ocean being there no matter what mood you’re in yourself. You can start to associate so many patterns of the waves or the light on rocks with other experiences in your life.

I was having a lot of dreams about seascapes, so I just made seascape studies. [Kettle Island] is off Cape Anne, the North Shore of Massachusetts. There was so much more available to me, I wanted to deal with the sun coming through, I wanted to deal with the clouds. Before that I was like, ‘I need a nice sunny day, and I need some shadows.’ Then I discovered the more obscured the weather was or if there was fog burning off—the more drama there was, the better.

The drama is pretty constant, and I like that it drives the paint. The idea of a wave sloshing is really close to how you can get paint to move. And just by looking at that drama, trying to capture it and respond to it, I transcribe that experience onto the canvas. We look at these open spaces, a storm cloud moving in or a wave moving over rocks. We think, ‘That’s an instant right there.’ Maybe I can’t paint that, maybe it’s better to photograph, or maybe it’s so fleeting that all we can do is look at it and appreciate it.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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