Josie Azuma

Artist + Josie Azuma

I’m a classically trained painter and self-taught abstract artist living in New Orleans, Louisiana. I started painting abstract works in 2019 after it hit me one day—I’ve been painting the wrong things my entire life. I felt confined by the world of realism and frozen; more often than not, unable to finish a piece of art. When I started experimenting with abstraction, my art work came alive; I was able to express myself—my thoughts, ideas, and feelings— in each brush stroke, collage piece, line drawn. I went on a journey to discover my artistic identity through a year plus of experimentation. I came out the other side with a skill set and process that I am proud of. I love working in layers, each layer adding intrigue and meaning that are often subtly hidden in the final piece. I consider myself a mixed media artist, mostly working in acrylics and collage. 

I am inspired by music, the colors and culture of New Orleans, textiles, interiors, and nature. You’ll often find that my titles are either names of songs or lyrics to songs, which help bring my feelings alive while I’m painting. I leave my works open for interpretation; what was once my creation will be acquired and new meaning assigned by its new owner. However, sometimes the titles of my pieces will be little hints into the underlying meaning and mood if you can figure it out.

My journey here has not been straightforward. I've been a creator my whole life, and started out as a painting major at The University of Alabama in 2004. A tedious Chuck Close project scared me into changing my major to Political Science. I loved painting but had no discipline at the time, and hadn’t really found my own style. I graduated with multiple credits in Fine Art and a minor in Art History. In 2008, I moved to New Orleans and attended law school, while painting on the side. I practiced law for over four years before I quit and started a wedding planning and design business, with intentions of building my art career alongside.

In 2016 my husband and I were surprised with twins, and my art career was once again placed on hold, through what turned out to be a very difficult pregnancy and few years thereafter. In 2019, I started painting again consistently and therapeutically, with a mission to figure out what kind of art made me happy and inspired. I had never given up on the idea of being a professional artist, and over time, I came to realize I was putting it off because it was the hardest route to take—figuring out who I was as a painter and putting everything out there is one of the most challenging things I’ve done.

I’m a big believer in art education, studio art classes, and group critiques, and I have continued my art education at The New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, with classes in abstract art, color and design, and collage. 

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