The Illusive Image of the Mind’s Eye by Julie Gilbert Pollard

The eye may see as a camera ‘sees’, but the mind’s eye sees an altered, imagined image, what it wants and hopes to see. It’s that illusive image, uniquely mine, along with a heightened sense of ‘realness’ that I try to express in my paintings. This world of ours is often a frightening and mysterious place, but it is filled with scenes and subjects that excite my eye and imagination! The magical allure of the natural world, and my reverence for it, compel me to attempt to capture its essence on canvas or paper

 Recently in my classes and workshops I’ve been getting questions regarding composition. I’m happy to be getting those types of questions since composition – as we all know – is a critical consideration. It’s right up there at the top of the list! However, that spot at the top must be shared with the element of mood and excitement, the emotion & vision that is unique to each of us and that only YOU can bring to YOUR painting. The “Nuts and Bolts” of painting must be balanced with Individual Personality.

Regardless of whether you are an advanced or novice painter, here is a practice of preliminary study that will help you to advance your compositional skills AND infuse the element of emotional content into your paintings!

Abstract – REALISM

 This was a plein-air painting session – and here’s my back-up photo below. The challenge was four-fold:

patio photo

Reference photograph of view during the plein-air session

1) Realistically represent the flowers, bench, sun and shadows.

2) Convey feeling – the fun and excitement of picking up my brush to paint outdoors on a beautiful spring day.

3) Express the reality AND the illusory in my own personal painting style.

4) Composition: maintain the first rule of composition & design which is asymmetry and create a value pattern.


To get loosened up, I painted this little abstract study shown right – what an advantage it gave me!

Color Bowl - A fast Plein Air study by Julie Gilbert Pollard, oil on canvas 12x12

Color Bowl – A fast Plein Air study by Julie Gilbert Pollard, oil on canvas 12×12

1) I did not concern myself with portraying any parts of the picture realistically—an incredibly freeing attitude. I squinted my eyes, troweled and brushed on the main colors and dark value pattern, then knifed on the lighter white and light-color accents

2) The quick, intuitive paint application allowed me the freedom to explore without worry the explosive action of the flowers contrasted with cool, rich shadows that weren’t exactly like the actual scene but what I saw in my mind’s eye.

3) While it prepared me for the “real” painting, it was also fun

And my painting Color Bowl on Park Bench was the final result of the study!

Color Bowl on Park bench by Julie Gilbert Pollard - oil on canvas 24X20

Color Bowl on Park Bench by Julie Gilbert Pollard – oil on canvas 24X20




Phoenix artist, Julie Gilbert Pollard, paints in a fluid, painterly manner. Her painting style, while representational, is colored with her own personal concept of reality. Julie is the author of two North Light Books, Brilliant Color (oil & acrylic, 2009), and Watercolor Unleashed (2013), plus several other additional publications and articles.

She has given instruction in watercolor and oil since 1985 and she currently conducts classes and workshops in many venues. A frequent award winner, Julie was the recipient of the Best Use of Light & Color Award, NOAPS Best of America Exhibit  2011 and The Best Impressionistic Painting Award, NOAPS Best of America 2012.

See more of her work and information at: 


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