An old friend from high school recently started posting her paintings to Facebook, and being a curious soul, I wanted to learn more about her artistic resurgence. Not only did I receive permission to post her work, but Lisa Martin Stanhope provided a fantastic and thoughtful interview. We didn’t get too much into the mechanics of painting, but rather talked about who she is as a person and an artist. I think you’ll find Lisa as someone who has reached a healthy respect for her own talents. We could all learn from her passion and her symbiotic relationship with the muse.
Here is the interview in it’s entirety with minor edits for clarity and web formatting. Click here for the unedited version of the interview.
First things first. Please understand that I know nothing about art. If any of my questions appear to stem from ignorance, it is because they do, in fact, stem from ignorance.
How did you get started as an artist? Is it a passion that has always been with you? Does the urge ebb and flow?
My father used to work at a paper mill and would bring home huge pieces of card stock (bigger than me sometimes); I spent hours drawing from a young age (about 4) and progressed through the years through art classes in school, fist getting recognition when I was 11. I have always had a desire to create although, there have been big stretches of time where I didn’t always paint or draw (starting a family, working full time and loosing my confidence kept me from painting for many years). However, creativity in one form or another has always been a big part of my life and way of expression. My urge to create does ebb and flow especially with my emotions. I find painting a great and fantastic way to release stress, anxiety or any overwhelming emotions. I find this is when I create the most easily and feel the most satisfaction.
Do you have any modern influences in your work?
I have many modern influences in my work, too many to mention! Although I have studied famous artists in school, I find my greatest influences from the internet and the ‘average artist’. I spend hours looking at all kinds of work, and find inspiration everywhere from all those brave people who create regularly, post their work and share with, literally, the world. They have all helped me to see that I can find the courage to paint and share again. If I see something I especially like I will try it out, see how it feels, incorporate it into my next painting along with my own ideas or a different inspiration and see what happens there. Some artist’s work that I am currently drawn to are Miss Van Miss Van & Antonio Natale. I have always been in love with Klimt
Tell us a bit about your artistic process? How do you start a painting? What techniques do you use to complete a piece?
The artistic process…hmmm well,it’s an ongoing process! I’m always planning on a next piece, sometimes it’s just a vision that pops in my head or a piece that I’ve seen or something out in nature that inspires. I take pics with my camera phone or book mark pages, print out pics or sketch. Other times I just feel overwhelming emotions, had a bad day, I’m angry, I’m anxious, I’m happy and I just take out a piece of canvas and splatter on some paint and see what comes out. I do try to do something with my work on a regular basis.Starting and finishing a painting are sometimes the hardest part. Getting up the motivation to start and then knowing when to stop and not over do it.
What do you get out of your art? Is it cathartic? Inspirational? Something else?
I get a few different things our of my art. It is most definitely cathartic sometimes and [that is] when I feel I produce my most creative and expressive work. These are also the pieces that I get the most positive responses from others. Other times it’s a way to spend the time, just doing something I love and gets my mind off of other stresses of the day. I absolutely love sharing my work with my friends and family, I actually tend to give most of my work away to them!
What themes do you find in your art? I see a lot of flowing curves in your paintings. Is that intentional? Can any meaning be ascribed to the style?
Yes, very much so. I like to incorporate lots of flowing curves in my painting since this is what I am naturally drawn to, what I see in nature, what I feel when expressing an emotion. I adore the ocean, water, trees, movement. I’ve tried doing more structured pieces without them, apparently my subconscious won’t have it! My brush ends up making a swirl, circle, wave…I can’t help it!
Do you ascribe any meaning to certain colors?
I don’t necessarily ‘assign’ any kind of meaning in my colors. I am seeing that I tend to go through phases with what I use after my work is done. I use colors I am personally drawn to. After doing a few pieces I’ll take a look at the pictures I’ve taken of them and say to myself ‘Gee I guess I’m really into red lately’. I also really love metallic colors. If for nothing else but the way they reflect the light and how they look when it’s placed next to flatter colors. I first saw and appreciated this with Gustav Kimt’s work and as of late have used it in every piece I’ve painted.
Besides color, what do you portray in your art? Feelings, emotions, stories, etc…?
It’s not so much about capturing a particular feeling or emotion. I don’t say to myself,’ I feel really happy today, what happy painting can I make?’ I start with the idea or inspiration of what I’ve seen and what ever emotion comes out, comes out. I’ve created some work when furiously angry and upset with a personal issue in my life and after I’m done the painting, it actually looks peaceful or calm or bright. I’ve been in perfectly good moods and painted stuff that has come out with a much darker feel than I expected. I gave up on trying to force my work to reflect what I had set out to do in my mind. I’ve frustrated myself for years thinking ‘ This vision is what I want to paint – God, this turned out nothing like what I was going for…it’s crap!’ then throw it to the side. Now I just start with what I’ve envisioned, and go with the flow. If it’s not turning out the way I thought, I step back, look at what I have done and continue to work in whatever direction the art is taking me. What you see is the end result of that.
I ask this question to everyone I interview. This blog is about stories in word, film, music, art and life. What are some of your favorite stories in any of those domains?
I really love stories with lots of mood and details. Books – I actually am a HUGE Stephen King fan, love Anne Rice, also adore Anne Lamott. Movies – I really like Quentin Tarantino and the way he shows and tells the story. I, being a dreamy eyed chick, can’t help but love romantic films of all kinds. The Hairdresser’s Husband makes me cry every time. Music – oh man…I listen to the weirdest mix. I listen to artists like Lily Allen, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette then flip my Pandora station to T-Pain, Afroman or Ludacris. I love The Mamas and The Papas, The Everly Brothers and I am in love with Cake and System Of A Down. I know, go figure.
If you could tell the world anything at all, what would it be?
Be yourself, screw the haters, enjoy what you have to the fullest…..or just fake it ’til you can.