An Artist’s Reinvention in Fornalutx

Artist Julie Mai, at her Fornalutx studio, is bringing something fresh and new to Mallorca

Canadian artist Julie Mai at her Fornalux Studio

The enchanting mountain village of Fornalutx is the setting for our interview with the artist, Julie Mai. We sit in the doorway of her studio overlooking a gently humming Plaza España and talk about the twists and turns that brought her to Mallorca from her native Canada.

Once upon a time, she ran a successful interior design firm in Vancouver, but Eckhart Tolle’s book ‘A New Earth’, awoke a desire in her to do something that she loved so much that time would stop still as she did it.

For Julie, painting is a meditation and a catalyst for personal growth. Before she came to abstract work, she learnt technical painting and sold her work in galleries around North America. “Now that I’m done with proving I can paint, I can paint from my heart,” she says, about her reinvention.

The Art of Encaustic Painting

The art of painting with hot wax began thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece, although perhaps the most famous encaustic paintings are the very life-like Fayum Mummy Portraits of Egypt. “It’s a process of constant manipulation,” Julie says, describing the wide choice of texture, colour and translucency which can be developed before fusing each layer with a heat gun. It’s an expensive process but one that she has fallen deeply in love with. The translucency of the work and its interplay with natural light means that, like a beautiful view, her mesmerising art changes over the course of the day. “Calming yet engaging,” is how a client recently summed up her style. We can imagine the benefit of sitting back and contemplating the many subtle and delicate mysteries hidden in a piece by Julie Mai. It is earthy and connected; elegant yet rustic. 

Choosing an Original Piece

Her pictures come in all sizes and her palette ranges from natural tones to vibrant pinks and reds. There’s no need to feel daunted by the choice, however. “My paintings pick their buyers,” she reassures us with a smile, “You just know when it’s right.” Her pieces are perfect for those who are weary of glitz, and who are seeking something with a bit more soul to deepen the welcome and balance of their home.

As for home, Julie Mai Haberstroh, has every intention of staying on the island and thanks to her German passport, both her parents being from Germany, she can do just that. Alongside her 5-year-old giant schnauzer, Heidi, who she describes as the love of her life, Julie has found a corner of the world where she has the energy and inspiration to communicate at the deepest level. “The response has been amazing so far,” she says, “I feel I have something different to offer.” We come away feeling uplifted and excited by her present work – and all that she has yet to create.

Text by Emily Benet  | Photos by Sara Savage

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