When I came across Laurie Lipton, I was just absolutely blown away by her work. It is rare for me to come across an artist whose technical skills and content are equally brilliant, drenched in my favorite type of macabre loveliness. After spending some wide-eyed time poring through her work, I scream-Tweeted at her in all caps: @laurielipton – YOUR ART IS SO INSPIRING AND AWESOME. I’M IN AWE OF YOUR WORK. JUST SPEECHLESS. THAT’S ALL I CAN SAY. And I fanned her on Facebook. Because that is what fellow artists do when they are star-struck by such juggernauts of talent.
Watch this terrific video of her explaining the reasoning behind some of her pieces – which makes me want to give her a gigantic hug to thank her for “asking the questions rather than answering them”. Her inspiration surfaces through her sense of social responsibility and appropriate outrage towards the media and society which is so delicately expressed in shades of black, white and gray. Her quiet artistic aggression appeals to me as a feminist and her work’s sharp social commentary is nothing short of brilliant. There are artists and then there are smart artists…and Ms. Lipton is a smart one. Her tools of choice are mostly charcoal and pencil on paper for her art but she also has lovely commissioned color pieces. One could spend hours gorging on her gallery drawings – they are like a 7-course gourmet feast of artly awesomeness.
When you are done viewing this clip visit her gallery at www.LaurieLipton.com. God, if I could amass a mere FRACTION of her talent by my life’s end, I would be ecstatic.
According to her website, LaurieLipton.com, she was born in New York and began drawing at the age of four. She was the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing (with honours). She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France and has made her home in London since 1986. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA.
Lipton was inspired by the religious paintings of the Flemish School. She tried to teach herself how to paint in the style of the 16th century Dutch Masters and failed. When traveling around Europe as a student, she began developing her very own peculiar drawing technique building up tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines like an egg tempera painting. “It’s an insane way to draw”, she says, “but the resulting detail and luminosity is worth the amount of effort. My drawings take longer to create than a painting of equal size and detail.”
“It was all abstract and conceptual art when I attended university. My teachers told me that figurative art went ‘out’ in the Middle Ages and that I should express myself using form and shapes, but splashes on canvas and rocks on the floor bored me. I knew what I wanted: I wanted to create something no one had ever seen before, something that was brewing in the back of my brain. I used to sit for hours in the library copying Durer, Memling,Van Eyck, Goya and Rembrandt. The photographer, Diane Arbus, was another of my inspirations. Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of ancient photographs and old TV shows… it is the color of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the imagery in my work.”