Exercises: A Conversation with Laurie Louise
ISSUE SIX: THE KINETIC ISSUE, A CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST LAURIE LOUISE
"WHEN I LOOK UPON MY WORK AND FEEL PRIDE, I ALLOW MYSELF TO BELIEVE THAT MY FEELINGS ARE BEAUTIFUL, THAT THEY ARE INEXTRICABLE TO ME. I PAINT SELF-PORTRAITS AS A MATTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL SURVIVAL."
Hi Laurie! Thank you for sharing your work with us. How long have you been painting?
I think I was always painting, just sometimes not on a canvas, and a lot, lot noisier. In 2014, I bought the easel I have now, named Gretchen (after my first doll), as a gift from my then boyfriend because it felt like material proof that I had an identity and independent value, and I needed that at the time.
Gretchen moved with me twelve times, including once across the Atlantic Ocean, pristine, unused, until this spring. I was living in Austin when my spirit finally went off mute, a dear friend finally forced me to put paint to palette, and an ensuing rush of inspiration finally came slamming down upon my life like a tidal wave. We would have described my energy during this interim as distinctly ‘potential’, a lifetime in crescendo.
Why do you paint self-portraits?
Jackson Pollock said, “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what (s)he is.” I have a habit of capturing photos of myself during emotionally intense moments. When I reconstruct these moments later with paint, I take on the detached posture of a non-judgmental observer. This offers an alternative to the repression we effectuate in order to appear functional in society and the expressions we make that are destructive to others and especially to ourselves.
When I look upon my work and very literally see that my feelings are real and valid but that they do not possess me, I free myself from my thoughts. When I look upon my work and feel pride, I allow myself to believe that my feelings are beautiful, that they are inextricable to me. I paint self-portraits as a matter of psychological exercise and physical survival.
"I AM MOST COMFORTABLE IN A STATE OF MOTION WHEN THE PACE OF MY BODY APPROACHES CONGRUENCE WITH THAT OF MY MIND."
Do you have any particular process you follow?
I feel that my process is very organic. I start feeling combustible and take to my photo archive. An image stands out and I drop in--luxuriating through the process of preparing my palette, mixing colors and oils, and drowning the space with music that is emotionally captivating. It is a very solitary, spiritual experience, of which I am very protective, and I derive meaning from the externalities which affect my attitude and work as I’m creating it. In this way, I seek to expand the metadata available in a given piece and reveal greater dimension in the self I am discovering.
We love the texture in your work and the way it lends itself to implied movement, both physical and emotional. How do you see your work connecting with kinetics?
Thank you! This play with texture is somewhat of an innate thread in my stylistic choices. I am drawn to clothing that is architectural, foods that are raw, human beings who are uneven. I prefer sharpness and distinction to smoothness and blending, very loud music, objects with traction, and I am most comfortable in a state of motion when the pace of my body approaches congruence with that of my mind.
My work is meant to depict events that happen actively inside me, to pull the chaos of the universe together in one perfect moment, which is to bottle fire and pour it onto a surface--which is to turn motion into stillness; an impossibility that approaches infinity. In a more literal sense, the topographically rich canvas forces the eye into motion in live observation and offers nuance in interpretation, but it also suggests the might of a still ocean that could disrupt at any moment.
Otherwise, it’s true what they say; necessity is the mother of invention. My brushes were old and dry when I finally unpacked them, so their strokes looked like shit. I had experimented with palette knife application by the encouragement of my art professor at Georgetown, and this movement returned to me very naturally; a stimulating, active dance.
What has your own path and transformation as an Artist been like so far?
My path has been meandering, my transformation happens on a daily basis, and what is new is my willingness to declare it as my own.
Are there any Artists in particular who have been especially inspiring for you, particularly any up-and-coming Artists?
I am not so deeply integrated in the Fine Arts community as to be directly inspired by such Artists, but I am very connected to music and fashion, and I derive a lot of creative energy from these more accessible, more ubiquitous realms. I get dressed and I listen to music every single day, and I am invigorated constantly by the freedom I feel when I make those choices.
I admire Artists who are deeply self-possessed or who fearlessly represent the pain they may feel and observe in the world. Examples of these are; Miley Cyrus, Anderson Paak, Lorde, Audrey Hepburn, Lena Dunham, Rick Owens, Alanis Morissette, Alessandro Michele, Raf Simons, and Kanye West. Also, I will say that the work coming out of the Jason Campbell Studio in New York City offers much visual stimulation, and English painter Jenny Saville is the reason I feel powerful before a canvas.
Is there any other background information on this self-portrait series that you would like to share with our readers?
My study and practice in oil painting took place under the direction of Professor Ben Ferry at Georgetown University from 2007-2010. His patience with my attention deficiency and generally volatile flux between utter stillness and franticism deserves much credit.
Thank you again for sharing, Laurie! Can't wait to see your future works.
* To see more of Laurie Louise's work, reach out at any of her links below.
www.lalaurielouise.com www.instagram.com/lalaurielouise firstname.lastname@example.org
© Laurie Louise 2016