Yuri Ozaki is originally from Japan, but came to the United States in 2001 to study English. After marrying her husband, she moved to Huntsville, where she began painting pictures of local scenery. She was won many awards, including the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s 71st National Exhibition Award of Excellence (2012) and Huntsville Art League Collector’s Draw First Place (2012). For more information on Yuri Ozaki’s work, please visit her website at www.ozakifineart.com.
What’s the biggest difference between Japan and the U.S. for you? I come from a very small coastal town in Japan. Most of the people in that area have been there for generations, and we seldom saw outsiders. In Huntsville, I meet people from all over the world and I find that very exciting. I do miss living one block away from the ocean, though.
Have you always painted? I have been dabbling in art since childhood, but I only began to seriously study it when I came to the States. Many of my relatives in Japan are educators, and that is the path I was on, but I don’t really have the personality for it. I am much happier as an artist.
Your paintings seem to capture certain moments of daily life and make those moments beautiful. Have you always painted this way, or did you start off painting or drawing completely different types of art? I am often overwhelmed by inspiration. I see beauty everywhere and I do my best to capture that. I am self-taught, so I am always struggling to get my skills to match my vision. I constantly read and study the works of master artists in an attempt to improve my technique. I have come a long way in the past ten years, but I feel like I have much further to go.
How long does it typically take you to finish one piece of art? It depends a lot on the complexity of the subject and the medium used. I can do a pencil sketch of a model in 15 minutes, but some of my more ambitious watercolors and oil paintings can take 40 hours or more. Sometimes much more.
What are some projects you’re currently working on? Lately, I have been concentrating on nature scenes as these are closest to my heart. My most recent works are exploring simpler monochromatic compositions.
I’ve noticed that sometimes artists decorate their houses in a completely different way than they paint. What style is your house decorated in? I work at home right now, so functionality is the main design element. However, we proudly display a lot of work from local artists like Emily Bodnar, Dustin Timbrook, Kelly O’Tool, Corry L. Smith, and Janice Brown.
Do you have any painting rituals (like listening to certain music, painting in a certain spot, etc.)? Not really – unless you count shooing the cats away from my work space! Lastly, just for fun - if you could be anything other than artist, what would it be? I would like to be an astronaut. •