Greetings Bold Soul,
Today we have a wonderful visitor! I hope you enjoy this chat (aka. bold interview) with my wonderful online art friend, Juli Cady Ryan, vibrant artist and advocate for mental health (it’s so important). Enjoy! Love Meg x o
1 How did you first know you wanted to share your story via painting? And how old were you when you realised? Have you always painted with riotous bright color?
I knew I wanted to share my family’s journey with mental illness when I realized how isolated we had become! I realized so many people suffer in silence (including my family) that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to use my art as a vehicle for sharing and reaching out to those in silence. I decided to start doing this after talking to my daughter and getting her permission to share her struggles. Later, the same with my sons.
I have always used bright colors to show that there is hope after the pain of dealing with life’s troubles. My paintings may share the idea of pain, but there is always hope.
2 What accomplishment/s are you most proud of in art and life?
I am proud of the fact that my art has spoken to so many people. It’s opened up so many conversations. I get emails and messages from many who have struggled with mental illness themselves or know someone who is struggling. They have thanked me for talking about it and making it easier to share. I think of all the things in my life, I am the proudest of my children. All three have had to deal with so much, but ultimately they turned out to be such caring and compassionate young adults. I don’t know how much I can claim that as being my own accomplishment, because it says so much more about who they are!
3 How has art benefited you – physically, socially, emotionally – on your life outside the studio?
I think the biggest benefit my art has given me is the ability to reach out and connect with people. I am an introvert by nature, so my art has helped me connect with people who are going through things very similar to me and my family. My art has helped me on all levels, giving me an outlet for my pain and for my hope as well. I don’t know how well I would have survived my family’s ordeal without my art.
4 Tell us about the link for you, between your artwork and mental health? Click this to read Juli’s mental health awareness month blog post.
Art has saved my own life in many ways. Being able to express my pain and hope has helped me deal with my family’s mental illness. There were many days I would spend crying as I was painting. I think my tears mixed with my paint at times. But I survived. I was able to have the strength to help my children survive, too. Art truly did that for me. It gave me a voice and a way to share with others what we were going through, lessening the feeling of isolation and despair.
5 What routines of self care do you practise?
Self-care starts with self awareness. I try and be in touch with my feelings and not be afraid to share them. When I am feeling anxious or upset, I try and do things to calm myself like painting, reading, listening to music. Exercise is also a great way to keep me physically and mentally healthy.
About Juli and where to find her
Juli Cady Ryan was born in La Porte, IN, and after attending Indiana University for three years, she then moved to Cincinnati with her husband to raise their family. She is a self-taught artist and she works exclusively in acrylics. Her love of painting began as a hobby in 2004, but then she fell in love with it. Once she was able to sell her art on Ebay, painting became her career. Her paintings have always been bright and hopeful, but they took on a new direction after her daughter’s struggle with mental illness and then later her two sons’ struggles. She then decided she wanted to share her family’s journey of pain, hope and recovery. Juli wanted to make mental illness a subject that could be talked about, not stigmatized, so people suffering wouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Juli’s art has been in several galleries, the latest a solo exhibition in the Portal Gallery at the Fuller Lodge Art Center in Los Alamos, NM. She was also interviewed by their local radio station, KRSN. Juli is an author and illustrator of two books, one a children’s bedtime story, The Sleep Fairy and Her Magic Sheep, the other book, Wounds of Wisdom, shares her family’s struggle with mental illness through her paintings and poetry. Both can be found on Amazon.com.
Today, Juli lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, US with her husband, Sean and her two black cats, Lordie and Francis and two black dogs, Oscar and Edgar. Her children are all grown and also live in Cincinnati. Juli hopes to continue painting and sharing her family’s story to be a voice for mental illness.