advertisement

Inside the mind's eye

Jessie Lawson's paintings portray a world far from this one
Sunday, November 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:10 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

Q:Would you say painting is a form of meditation?

A: I would say it is extraordinarily engaging. It is a physical and imaginative act that is completely absorbing for me. I love the look of a blank canvas; I usually have one in my dining room.

Q: Your work resembles Spanish and Mexican folk art. Do you purposely use this stylistic background for your work?A: No, but I do base paintings on other paintings. One of my paintings in Ellis Library is called “To Velázquez and Picasso.” I dedicated it to them because it’s based on Velázquez’s “Las Meninas,” which Picasso copied. I use very famous compositions deliberately, like a joke. Sometimes I’ll do it just for the hell of it, but you can actually learn a lot that way. These imitations are a part of self-teaching.

Q: What are the different mental elements to your work?

A: I’ll tell you something: My work creates an alternative world that is much nicer than this one. That world is harmonious and joyful. I don’t think humans were put here to rule with an iron fist, so I show that the cats in my paintings have lives and spirits, too. I believe in the “beingness” of my beings. I think my work also relates to the gender issues that I have taught and studied over the years. My art challenges the idea of women or other species as objects rather than subjects in their own right.

Q: What are some experiences in your life that have influenced your work?

A: First, I grew up in a socially radical household. When I was 8, my mother got cancer, and I had to grow up really fast. I remember I used to make paper dolls with dog and cat heads. I kind of set aside my artistic endeavors until I was close to retirement.

Q: What materials do you use in your work?

A: I paint with acrylics, but I do collage, so I use a lot of materials like wrapping paper, letters and altered prints. So I’d say it’s mixed media. Sometimes I use fabrics, clay, wood and beads.

Q: Since you started painting, how has your life changed?

A: Well, I think that the cause and effect is complicated here. I have a 31-year-old kid who went to college and started a life, and I was getting ready to retire. My starting to paint and my life changing happened simultaneously. I don’t want to be the retired person who sits on the couch all day watching TV. I do have a TV, but it receives no channels, so I can’t go there.

Q: Have you ever painted by number?

A: No!

Q: What is your favorite color?

A: I don’t have just one. I like many, many, many colors.

Q: Your work is playful and brightly colored. Do you think this reflects your personality?

A: Yeah, I like comedy, but especially black humor. I really don’t like stuff like Mary Engelbreit, it’s too “Good Housekeeping.” I think you can be socially critical and incorporate irony into your work but still have fun.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements