I met Julie Arnoff when I first went to visit the Arts District Flea Market. I didn’t meet her right away, all I saw were the most amazing paintings of dogs and people in this distinct style that was a mix of pop, art, and something sassy. I immediately wanted a painting of Lilo, my Pomeranian and I couldn’t wait to meet the lady behind the brush.
When I started interviewing Julie, I didn’t know that she was planning on painting me at the same time. This was such an incredible experience, because there was writing, art, and soul-searching going on all at the same time. I asked Julie about the basics and I learned that she was born in Cleveland and moved to the LA at the age of 4. She lived in Encino and Beverly Hills and came from a wealthy family. “I was rich,” she said. “But I hated it.” She said that she felt different from everyone else. She received scholarship to study Fine Arts at UNLV, then attended Otis Art School of Design. She wanted to be an artist since she was 18, and before then an actress. She played a role in a college play and couldn’t remember the lines – that was when she decided to be an artist.
As Julie was painting, she kept telling me not to smile. None of her portraits had smiles in them. “It’s not real,” she says and she also didn’t like to draw teeth. I asked her if she could ever have an office job and she said wouldn’t be able to concentrate.
Julie’s signature style consists of drips and spills. She describes herself as very messy and she often likes it when people watch her paint. She likes it even more when they tell her it’s good. “I feel adequate,” she says. She also assured me that “they always like it.”
I didn’t see my painting until it was done and when I did, I loved it. It reminded me of Pocahontas, a figure I connected with very much as a child. Julie also incorporated a lot of colors in the painting, asking me which ones I liked. She paints people using their photograph but prefers to have the real person sitting in front of her. She says, “I get a person’s energy. Everyone has a different energy.” She continued with my painting and got paint on everything including her pants and even my dress.
I asked about her other hobbies, the other parts of her life. Like most artists, art took up most of that. She also loves to travel and her favorite place that she ever visited was the Kingdom of Bhutan. She smiled as she remembered it, “It was so beautiful, so natural.” She also enjoys going to other galleries and plays, and sometimes the karaoke bar even if she can’t sing.
When I asked Julie for a secret, she gave me one of the best ones I’ve ever heard. She revealed to me that she used to be a diabetic and had a kidney and pancreatic transplant. Her kidney came from a young man who committed suicide over love; therefore, she calls her kidney, Romeo. I’m sure the name of her pancreas is no secret.
You can find Julie at the Arts District Flea most Friday-Sundays and by appointment. You can like her FB page and add her on Instagram. If you’re interested in getting a portrait done, please email her at [email protected].