Sunday, November 16, 2008

Printsy Interview - Lisa Wharton

Interviewed by nydampress


Your work is so vibrant and composed of multiple layers. When & how did you begin your method of silkscreen monoprints on wood?

'birdy' - lisawharton on FlickrI just started this new way of working this year. I had been screen printing editions & monoprints on paper for many years. My husband is also an artist and has been working on a fun account for the last 2 years for New Belgium Brewery. With New Belgium he was able to work on wood, screenprint and weather the pieces and boxes he made. (see examples of his work for New Belgium here). Since he had wood lying about the studio I was able to take some and experiment. I instantly loved how it looked, and even better when I was able to start weathering the pieces and making them feel very organic.

Where do you create your work? Do you have a studio space of your own?

I am fortunate to have both a space out of my home, and get to take over my husband's studio space when I need extra space, or need to do something outside. A few years ago I was having to pay $10/hr for a babysitter, so I could drive downtown and work (at my husband's space). When we moved to our new house my husband and his friend built me a custom silkscreening table and storage for my screens and ink. The only thing inconvenient is there is no water in the basement so I have to go up 2 flights of stairs to wash my screens out. But its a super plus to be able to work at night when my kids are asleep.

What for you, are your greatest inspirations?

My greatest inspiration - wow, thats a tough question. I love that I am married to a working artist who supports our family doing what he loves. I am inspired and strive to be as successful, so I can one day be as well known and successful as he has become, all while doing what I love. My kids also inspire me to be someone that they can look up to. It is hard to be both an artist and a mom, especially when art as seen as a hobby - not a career (to many)

Could you pick one piece for us, and describe the creative process that led to that print?

This is currently one of my favorite pieces.

'2housesgrounded' - lisawharton on FlickrI start out by printing the solid colors. I printed the green and let it dry. Then printed the blue sky area. While the ink is wet I go back in and draw into the ink. Sometimes I print over and repeat that process so I have nice ghost houses behind the ink. I love the layers that I achieve when I do that. Then I screened one side of the street maps, using paper to mask off where I didn't want the ink to go. It would be impossible to create the same work twice with the way I work. It is a very painterly way of using printmaking. It is more like drawing and painting with silkscreening. I have worked this way before with other mediums, so I am glad that I have found a way to use a printmaking process to be somewhat of an anti-printmaker.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?

I have always liked multiples, so that is something that has been in my work for the last 15 years. The stacks and the repetition. The things that have changed and evolved have been my materials. I used to love working on Reeves BFK and oilsticks -
and then using xerox transfers with pencil drawings to create most of my work. I love the transition I have made to using wood.

What do you enjoy most about printmaking?

I am obsessive compulsive in so many ways, and printmaking allows me to do multiples and grow the stacks (of work) that I find so appealing. I love that you can have one idea and image and you don't have to be tied to one decision of a color or placement or paper. You can print it many different ways and allow happy accidents until you find the print you like the best.

'whereareyourroots' - lisawharton on FlickrWhat's your least favorite part of the process?

It has to be the preparation - making my screens. I print my negatives on my Epson printer and then cut and paste and tape them together. That can be really time consuming when I am itching to get it done so I can print. I try to take a week and prepare all of my images and get my screens made.

How do you promote your work?

Online, doing festivals and handing out postcards and business cards. I advertise in small publications, like the newsletter at my girls school. Just recently I printed some canvas bags to use at my last sale - those were fancy and people loved them.

This summer you participated in a series of outdoor art festivals. Please share with us the experience you had while at these shows.

I have been doing shows like these on and off for the last eleven years. It is a love hate relationship I have with them. I am always very successful at the shows, but it is so much work to prepare and to guess how much you will need and what will sell. I do it because I love the instant feedback (the good and the bad), and the funny comments you hear off the cuff (that maybe I am not suppose to hear - like, "I could do that") I love to see who is buying my work, and hear the story why they connect to a certain piece and where they are going to put it. I meet so many great people.

'my booth' - lisawharton on FlickrThat being said - I just got back from doing a show in Kansas City, MO and I think it will be my last show - on the road - for awhile. It was extremely difficult on my family. The time it took to print, prepare, pack it all and travel 600 miles. My girls missed 3 days of school and we just got off of our family schedule. I will start traveling again when and if my girls are interested in helping me in my booth. Right now at ages 3 and 6 they want to be doing anything but sitting in a tent for 3 days and driving for 2 days.

How do you get past creative slumps?

I think you have to have the lows to enjoy the highs - so I don't dwell on any lows. I enjoy going to the library and looking through old clip art books, art books - see if anything screams at me. Then I go to the art supply store to see if there is anything new I want to try. If nothing else a good road trip will get my mind racing for some good ideas.

As a mother to two children, do you have any advice for other working artists who are also parents? How do you manage your time between the studio and home?

It takes twice the will and discipline to be a working artist and a mom. During the summers I try to involve my kids in my art making process so it is something we can do together, rather then just time I have to spend away from them to do my work. My advice would just be to use all your time as wisely as possible. I make lots of lists to get it all done - so I am not forgetting anything (and I still do forget things - but it helps). Another bit of advice would be to lower your expectations of what you can get done for the day or the week. It feels better (to me) to over achieve then be left with a list of things undone. I also work at night when everyone is asleep. Its good me time and I go to bed feeling very accomplished on most nights.

I love how you involve your kids (and their friends!) in art projects at home! How long have you been doing these "Art Camps" with your children? Where do you come up with the ideas for each project?

The official ART CAMP started this summer when my daughter was telling me she wanted to go to the art students league camp. The schedule didn't work out for us, and it was also pricey (as most camps are) so I told her there was no reason we couldn't have our own ART CAMP! We sat down with a huge sheet of paper and brainstormed ideas of what we could do and make. We had a list of friends to invite and also visiting artists. So far I have not wrangled any of my artistic friends or family to come and teach a camp - but its in the works. As for activities, they were either things Mia wanted to learn or things I could incorporate from what we were doing from day to day.

There are three projects that stand out in my mind as being really fun. The first was bookmaking - where the girls made books and filled them with drawings of their summer adventures and travels. We also did mural painting and we used the basement wall to create a drawing my daughter and I did. And we also had a "Project Runway" fashion day, since my daughter loves that show and thinks she may want to be a fashion designer some day. That day we made fashion collections out of paper, markers, colored pencils, scrap fabric, glitter/etc. I would have loved for them to sew things but there are always limitations with time and skill. I think art camp will be something that is here to stay at our house.


mizu designs said...

Yay Lisa! What a lovely interview. Your work is so inspiring and beautiful.

Candied Fabrics said...

These are great questions! THey really get into what it takes for Lisa to make her work - thanks!