In the Studio with Lori Markman
How has personal experience influenced your creativity?
Personal experience has always been the raison d’etre of my creative and artistic life. From the start, my work has always been autobiographical and a vehicle for self-expression. My goal has always been to convey the universal aspect of my personal experiences in a way that would make the viewer feel the emotions,or the thoughts that I felt about a particular time, event or person in my life. My two artistic touchstones are emotion and structure as both composition and emotion or passion are important to make art that satisfied me. My art is generally also more symbolic than literal. For example, when I did my 10 painting oil series about a car accident in which I was seriously injured, I did not paint literal pictures of accidents or freeways. Instead, I painted images of various moments during the accident that symbolized my thoughts, feelings and emotions during that moment.
What do you wish to accomplish with your art?
My goal has always, always been to create the best art that I can make: the most interesting, the most powerful, the most emotional. Art that is “just as good” as the works that are considered the best art in the world. I would like the viewer to feel moved by my work, to feel a strong connection to it.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the action you produce?
Generally, while I have many ideas in my head about art that I could make, I have found that there is a self-editing process that occurs very naturally. Some ideas float in my head for a while, but then gradually fade away without notice. Others stay in my head and compel me to actualize them. Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) has a theory that creative ideas are disembodied entities that seek a human to manifest them in the physical world. Sometimes these idea/entities “hit on you”, but then realize that there is a better person out there to actualize them, so they leave you to seek that other person. This theory of hers very much appeals to me. So when I get an idea that compels me, I just follow its “instructions”. If it is a painting, I often just start drawing on the canvas with soft vine charcoal until I get a composition that I like and then start paint. But, sometimes, I will make a preliminary sketch on paper which may change substantially before the initial painting process starts. With my drawings and mixed media collages, I have learned to just start. Here the process is so fluid that each step will influence the next step, and I have learned not to anticipate or try to control the result. I just let one step lead to another but always keeping the original thought or emotion that I want the work to express.
What does a day in your art practice look like?
I have expanded my art practice to include the business or marketing aspects of art. That has led to a clear conflict between the two that I am constantly adjusting. I try to reserve the mornings for art business/marketing and to get into my studio by 12:30 or 1:00 pm. But it is very difficult. I have also tried to reserve one day a week for nothing but art marketing/business, but that aspect tends to leak over into the remaining days–so it is not a entirely satisfying solution. However, once I am in my studio, I simply start working on the piece that interests me the most. I have several pieces, often totally unrelated, going at the same time. I work for as long as I can. I have also learned that, for me, I like a clean studio. I find that when my studio gets too cluttered, it derails my creative process. So I am constantly straightening up the studio and keeping things neat as part of my creative process, part of my work on the actual piece. This does work for me, but it may not for everyone. I also switch back and forth between pieces as I feel inspired to do so.
What is the best advice you have been given?
1. If I am nervous about going into the studio, I tell myself to just go in for 15 minutes, even if I do nothing but sit and look. Always, without exception, I will work, far beyond that deadline. I like Twyla Tharp–the choreographer’s advice to herself when she goes into her studio: ” I am preparing to prepare, to begin to prepare to begin” That takes the pressure off!
2. Don’t work on a piece when you have had enough. It’s Ok to switch to something else, once you feel tired, or that creative flow is gone for that particular piece for that moment.
3. Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice and about fear and creativity, as expressed in her book: Big Magic. (The best book on creativity and creative blocks that I have ever read). She says that fear and creativity go hand in hand, as creativity by definition is stepping out into the unknown, and we are biologically programed to fear the unknown. So, she realizes that she will have fear about her creative ventures, but as she says, when she, creativity and fear “go on their road trip together”, fear can come along for the ride and express itself, but fear is not allowed to decide the direction, use the map or even turn on the radio!
4. To take the Kipaipai workshop on art mentoring and business.
If you could change anything about the art world what would it be?
The obsession with the dating of work. It appears that unless you are famous, no one in the art world establishment has any interest in work that is older than two or three years. I find that notion to be absurd. It should be quality not date of creation that is important. I also find it rather elitist that bluechip art galleries generally have such large spaces and huge wall space, that by necessity, they can only exhibit huge works of art, as smaller pieces would be lost in those giant spaces. That automatically biases them against artists who create smaller pieces.