Hi, I’m Michael, and welcome to Let’s Talk Process, Issue No. 3! Thanks so much for joining me for the third issue of my ongoing artist interview series. You can read more about me here.
My goal for this series is to dig deeper and explore how various creative people specifically approach their daily work. With that in mind, the questions for Let’s Talk Process center around the unique creative processes of artists & authors, how and when they work, routines, and inspirations.
This issue, I’m excited to have artist and teacher Lu Reynolds as my guest!
Hi, Lu! To start, tell us a little about yourself and your art.
I have always been an artist, and art was important to my family as I grew up. My father was a gifted painter, my mother was very involved in theater arts, and both of my brothers paint and draw. After briefly majoring in art in college, I found that the structure of the course load dampened my desire to create. I switched my major to history, but I continued to draw and paint in my free time. I went on to receive my Master of Arts in Teaching and have been in education for 25 years. I teach English, and my passion for art and creativity has been a large part of my classroom all these years. I have always been inspired by literature, and I am a voracious reader and writer. I find that my art is a story, each piece a narrative of whimsy or a glimpse of magic. Pen and ink are my main tools to convey these stories, but I enjoy watercolors and graphite, too. Nature also plays an essential role in my art. I find myself drawn to the natural world because it was a central component in my early life and remains so today. Animals, ghosts, books, and mythical beasts and settings tend to be the primary subjects I choose to ink. If my art can spark questions, stories, and inspiration in others, then I feel it is a worthy success.
Describe your creative schedule. When do you work on art? What does your normal daily routine look like?
I am always looking for creative inspiration, and when I am inspired, finding the time to create can sometimes be tricky. Working a full time job makes for a limited creative schedule, but I am always sketching and doodling in the down times. I will have times of great productivity when my inspiration is concrete, and I can transfer ideas into ink quickly. Other times, I will just collect my sketches, thoughts, and notes to use when I feel I can have the time to commit to the project.
Do you think there are certain times of day that are more conducive to your creativity?
I absolutely do...and for me, it is morning time, weekend mornings to be more precise. Without the rush of being at work, I am able to draw and to ink in the quiet and newness of the day. I have been known to draw in the evenings, but rarely do I start new pieces at night. I reserve night time for adding final inking details or for finishing up.
How much planning goes into the creative process? Do you set self-imposed goals or deadlines along the way?
I can divide my creative process and products into two categories: commissioned work and my own work, and I have two very different systems for creating and producing within those categories. Commissioned work is carefully planned out, with goals set and deadlines arranged. There is the inherent pressure in this type of creating, but to hand off a commissioned piece to a pleased client makes the pressure worth it in the end. As for my own art, I enjoy the freedom of starting and stopping on a piece as the whim comes or goes. I believe that it is inside these type moments of freedom and zero pressure that my best work comes forth. I truly, truly have blissful fun when I am inking in this manner.
Does social media help or hurt your creative process? In what ways?
I love this question because I have very positive things to say about it. I joined Twitter last summer and quickly found a very supportive art community there. I met a wonderful group of artists that had a Discord server as well. Ideas were exchanged, questions were asked and answered, and the foundation of a supportive group of creatives was built for me. I had never experienced anything like it. I can mark last summer as a renaissance of sorts for me because of the artist community on Twitter and through that particular Discord server. I am grateful to all of these folks. I think social media is a huge help to my creative process because it stirs me to reflect upon my own skill and work while calling on me to interact with other creatives. Through this interaction, I am provided inspiration, motivation, relationships, and guidance, and that to me, is the most beautiful fuel for my creative process.
Do you have any particular rituals, locations, and/or favorite tools that are necessary for your creative process?
I love to draw in my breakfast room because it catches the morning sun nicely. A cup of coffee and a set of Microns is a great start as well. I keep my paint brushes in a row of mason jars on the kitchen counter as if they are normal utensils for any kitchen. I have also been known to ink and draw in bed. There are many quilts in my household with ink splotches on them, and that makes me smile. Ink should be in all rooms of a home, right?
When you have a creative block or a lull in your process, what are some things that help you get back on track?
For a solid decade or so, I did not produce a single complete piece of art. Life was busy and frenetic. I did not make time for my art, and it was a dark time for my creative spirit. I have now come to see my art as an extension of myself and even of my health. It is a necessary part of my day to be thinking of possible subjects or sketching ideas or putting ink to the paper. Now that I have made art a priority in my life, I handle creative block or lulls in creativity as two different realms. Creative block is easily solved by talking with other artists on Twitter, reading a new novel, spending time at the stable with my horse, or by simply being in my back garden. I welcome creative block as a challenge, a challenge to find new means to express myself. A lull in creativity I find more difficult to approach. My lulls are usually the result of a full-time job or other unavoidable daily duties. I just search for the quick, quiet moments to plan a piece or sketch out an idea or two.
When is a piece of art “finished”? How do you know?
I rarely go into a piece without having done thumbnails and planning. I will let the thumbnail sketches sometimes sit for days before starting the final piece. I think I know a piece is done when I set it across the room and look at it with “other” eyes in an attempt to see it as others will. If my eye is caught by anything in the piece, I will continue to work on it. Otherwise, I will sign it, set it aside for a day or two, and revisit it from across the room once more. Finished pieces are like the whole heart of the story for me. I need to see and feel the completeness of what I intended to impart at the start, and if so, then I am pleased with the end result.
A huge thank you to Lu Reynolds for being a part of Let’s Talk Process!
Lu plans to launch her website Summer 2019.
Follow her on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/rendernev
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