In today’s artist interview & sneak peek we have a visit In The Studio with Lisa Shimko. When I moved to Charleston about five years ago, a new friend invited us to stay in their furnished home downtown for a couple months and she has a lovely collection of art from local and artist afar. Once of the smaller pieces that caught my eye was a bird painting, by Lisa. My friend told me about Lisa’s work (and showed me the Farmers Market poster from a few years ago) and I knew I’d have to seek Lisa and her work out. The time has finally come to join me and take a peek at Lisa’s creative and beautiful working home studio! These photos are not styled so this is typical of what her studio space looks like on an average day.
In The Studio with Lisa Shimko-Artist Interview & Sneak Peek-Part I
HKPS:: When did you realize you were an artist?
Lisa: I’ve been “doing art” as early as my memory exists. Don’t know when was the first time I called myself an “artist”. My first paying art job was in high school when I was commissioned to design and paint two murals which I knew then was a step towards using the adjective “professional” in front of “artist”.
HKPS:: What materials you work with?
Lisa:: Now mainly acrylic paint. In the past, oil paint, pastel, wood, clay, and general mixing of media.
HKPS:: Is making art your primary source of income?
Lisa::Yes, art is my primary source of income. I find thinking too much about “what sells” can hinder the enjoyment of making and quality of the work. There are separate times and places for the lists of bills, etc. and art-making.
HKPS:: How much time do you spend in your studio weekly/daily?
Lisa::I work every day. Sometimes as deadlines approach its 10-14 hours, most other days 7-10 hours.
HKPS:: Do you work in solitude/seek out solitude or enjoy company (music, other people etc)?
Lsia::I prefer not to have other people around- don’t like the distraction. Depending on what I’m working on and/or mood, I like to listen to music, NPR, podcasts or audio books while painting.
I have had a few jobs in restaurants painting “live” in front of people, such as during dinner service where my art and live music were the entertainment. In this case the type of painting was adjusted for the situation, i.e. plan ahead for what exactly I’m painting, pick a simple subject to finish faster and keep my ability to interact with people open.
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
Lisa::I wish I had a bigger studio space, but still happy with what I have- maybe about 300 square feet in my house. I’ve been in this house for 11 years but have had my main studio elsewhere a few times, but the last 7 years its been all here.
HKPS:: When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
Lisa::My preference is to paint in natural light so that is a basic part of the set-up-work where the light is but away from that it changes depending on the size, number, type of pieces being created.
HKPS::Is there anything you find distracting or choose leave out of your studio practice?
Lisa::There’s been more and more traffic, etc. in the neighborhood so the street noise can be distracting.
HKPS::How do you use your space to support different phases or aspects of your process? For example in kitchen design we refer to the “work triangle”, do you find any similar arrangements useful in your space?
Lisa::The room of my studio that gets less light tends to be the place most supplies are stored and prep happens. I have a moveable 3-drawer bin (see photo above in post) with all my paints divided into Reds, Yellows/Browns, Blues/Greens. Depending on what I’m working on this can move around tables, or easels for easy access. My easel that transitions into a table is great too.
HKPS:: Do you use personal objects & memorabilia in your art? Do you collect memento’s, found objects or other ephemera?
Lisa::My decor is definitely mix and match. Mainly books, artwork by others and gifted or found objects. Overall move stuff around to have my sense of homey feeling without feeling cluttered (might look cluttered to others though).
HKPS:: Do these collections ever overwhelm you and if so how and when do you curate-edit them?
Lisa::If things pile up too much or feel cluttered I purge.
HKPS:: Do you have a mantra, muse, mascot or area that you dedicate as an altar? OR-do you have any rituals, superstitions or routines you practice regularly in your studio?
Lisa::I like my Ganesh. I have a few little “altars” but not necessarily part of my art practice. Just there for my comfort in general to live where I work.
ARTIST LEGACY & LEARNING
HKPS:: How important is legacy to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and what you will leave behind?
Lisa::I tend not to entertain the thought of legacy too much. I’m too busy trying to learn, move forward and fit as much in before I die.
HKPS::How do you store/archive your artwork and records (photo’s, inventory systems etc)?
Lisa::I photograph everything within days of completion and have copies of the albums on my home computer, external hard drive and cloud.
HKPS::How do you feed your curiosity or learn new creative techniques? Do you attend workshops, retreats or classes online to help you evolve both creatively and in your art business?
Lisa::Love learning but I’m more apt to go to a science lecture about horseshoe crabs, microscopy workshop at NOAA or talk about funerary practices of historical Charleston than seek out art technique or business classes.
HKPS::Where do you show your work?
Lisa::Mitchell Hill Gallery, Charleston, SC
Lisa’s current show called Solace is up at Mitchell Hill thorough July 9th, go see her vibrant work in person and maybe you’ll find a little something to bring home with you! There are still a few works available.
Next week we’ll be back to share more of Lisa’s tips on Organizing, Storage and her Process. Do you have any questions you want me to ask Lisa next week? If so please leave them in the comments below!
*The idea for the In the Studio series began while attending an art retreat where I curiously observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. I’m very interested in sharing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process. Some systems and order are vital to our creative PLAY and learning to find a balance that works to enhance your creativity is what I hope to share with you through these interviews.
Is there a particular artist whose ‘Tool kit’ you would like to see featured? Leave a comment below and let me know!