In the Studio with Lauretta Coumarbatch
What does a day in your art practice look like?
My artistic process has an organic feel and it’s very unscripted. Each day is different in terms of hours, inspiration and media used and I try not to control, order or regiment my art process in any way. If I dreamt something or if I wrote a poem or if I read a scripture, it may awaken something art-wise in me that I must re-create on canvas etc. I can go days without making much progress then I can produce an entire themed collection in a weekend so I love the surprises.
What would life be like without art?
Life without art for me would be unimaginably plain, painful and down right scary. Art is like the air that I breathe now after putting art aside for too long. Truly, nothing beats the visual arts as a form of self-healing, story-telling and self-expression.
What is the hardest part of creating your art?
I have chronic pain and fatigue that limits me on most days so each artwork that I complete is a personal triumph. Recently I started painting on a larger scale and that too has come with more things that I have to figure out physically but great art is still getting done.
What inspires you?
Literally, everything inspires me. Children, color, fresh air, the sky, the sea, flowers, kittens, my family, dancing, movement, music, writing, spoken words, my faith…
What advice would you give your younger self?
Worry less. Paint more.
Who would you most like to collaborate with? Why?
I’d love to collaborate with film and TV actors who also do visual arts like Sylvester Stallone, Viggo Mortensen, Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Gray Gruber, to name a few. We could even do each other’s portraits which could be real fun.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
My 20 year old nephew(a digital artist) told me that the only artist I should ever compare myself to is my previous self and I agree.
If you could change anything about the art world, what would it be?
I’d change the system of gatekeepers and obstacles that seem to keep artists of color out of the art world.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I work in a live/work studio so my art is up all around me which keeps me always highly motivated and interested in my work throughout my day and as I start new projects. And my art keeps me motivated as it helps my physical and my mental health especially during the necessary isolation and distancing caused by this pandemic.
If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose? and why?
I’d follow Camille Pissarro around a decade or two before the birth of the Impressionist era. Why? Pissarro and I were both born on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (aka the Danish Virgin Islands until 1917) so I grew up as a young artist knowing his paintings of our native island scenes. I always felt that Pissarro painted post-emancipation local Black people with dignity and it seems that he went to school with local Black children. I also love some of his quotes like this one –
“God takes care of imbeciles, little children, and artists.”
How has personal experience influenced your creativity?
I was producing very serious and graphic “grieving” art after my mother died then in 2020 I started doing what I call “Black Girl Whimsy” and “photo bombing” art because even in serious times with war, a pandemic, political division and social injustice in the news, it’s good to simply just watch clouds in the sky and to smell the flowers.
What do you wish to accomplish with your art?
I wish to spread joy and movement through my colorful expressiveness. And I wish to tell stories through visual art that clients would love to buy and hang in their homes.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
I’d tell everyone starting out to learn the art business at every level, surround yourself with a helpful community of artists and then get comfortable networking and promoting yourself in person and on social media.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the action you produce?
My mind is constantly percolating with colors, composition, dreams, movement, sounds and ideas that I scribble down on paper or on the notepad app in my phone. Sometimes it takes a brief moment before I grab a canvas, brush, pencil or paper and jump in and start creating and let it become. Other times an idea can be mentally filed away for years before I get to it but I never forget the “muscle memory” of the initial inspiration.