Finding a New Artistic Outlet

By Stella Haffner   |   September 21, 2021

This week, we’re hearing from a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music, 23-year-old Jules Bartling.

I’ll admit, it’s quite difficult for me to picture Jules as an adult. The last time we saw each other, we were probably nine and 12 years old, in the MUS auditorium, rehearsing for that season’s play — where we could always reliably be found after school. What hasn’t been surprising for me to learn, however, is that Jules has bloomed into a genuine artistic polymath. With a background in dance, theatre, and sketching, the 2013 Teen Star Santa Barbara Finalist now has her sights set on the Big Apple. But Jules’ plans were waylaid when she found herself in her hometown, weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, she is going to tell us how she used her time in isolation to nurture a new artistic skill.

Dear Montecito,

Jules Bartling attended the Berklee College of Music

I’ve always loved theatre. I’ve loved it as long as I can remember, likely starting at five years old, and it was always the thing I loved to fill my days with the most. 

The pandemic has been a strange time for all of us, and for me and my friends in the performing arts space, this time has been a special mixture of a lot of things. Anxiety and dread even, that our careers, which rely so heavily on in-person activities, hang in the balance. Self-discovery and a surge, or sometimes vacuum, of purpose. For those of us who started the journey so young, like I did, the pandemic has felt like our path might be trailing into nowhere, at least a little bit. After all, I saw theatre being my career, and suddenly, it was simply not the same.

My passion for performing arts launched me into college, culminating in a BFA in musical theatre from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. Theatre will always be my first love, but no matter how much you love something, every once in a while, you need a break from it… and that’s where drawing came in.

Once I got to college, I found myself needing more and more escape from the theatre world and very naturally gravitated toward charcoal sketching. I took a class in sketching once when I was younger and really enjoyed it but never would have thought to pursue it. Certainly, it couldn’t compete with my love for performing arts.

Jules used the pandemic to further develop her sketch art

Even so, I’d grown up with a strong role model in visual arts. My grandmother was an incredible painter and growing up watching her paint is one of my favorite childhood memories. I never thought I would love drawing as much as I do now, but I suppose my ideation of her and a passion for the arts must go hand in hand.

It wasn’t until I came home to California to quarantine at the start of the pandemic that I really began leaning into my interest in charcoal sketching. Theatre was no longer accessible, so I found something else, and in a strange way, fell in love with it, almost on accident.

What ends up on the paper is always a surprise to me. I start out with pretty strict outlines and ideas, but after a certain point, all of that is thrown to the wind in a sense, which is always the part I have the most fun with. I draw, erase, redraw, and erase again a million times until whatever I’m working on lands somewhere I’m happy with. Everyone has their own process, but this is what I do to find my footing. This dip into corona-time has of course been scary for artists everywhere, but it has also provided breathing room for a type of self-discovery. Truthfully, I’m not sure I have entirely developed my style yet, but I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to become more familiar with this new medium.

At the end of the day, this is something that started out as a release that was purely for me. Learning more about something I truthfully know little about but love very deeply. It has been an incredibly exciting experience and it will continue to make me much more confident in sharing my art with the outside world.

Feel free to visit my website julesa to learn more about my art.



Did you grow up in Montecito? I’d love to hear from you at!


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