Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lisa Pressman Artist Interview

Lisa's work on her wall
photo: Lisa Pressman

Lynette (LH): Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Lisa: I am a painter living in New Jersey with my husband Jay Rosenblatt, a photographer. We have two boys, 22 and 17. I am busy painting, teaching, working and all the other stuff.

Building a Bridge
24 x 24 wax and oil
photo: Lisa Pressman

Below the Surface
24 x 24 oil and wax
photo: Jay Rosenblatt

LH: Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work?
Lisa: I grew up in Rahway NJ . The youngest of 4, I spent alot of time alone or on excursions with my Mom. She was interested in acting and was always in local plays. I remember helping her with her lines for numerous performances. When I was a teenager she began studying painting with a second generation abstract expressionist. Every week she came home with paintings to show me. She entered juried shows, sold some work, and actually won a few prizes. One of my earliest memories is being led by the hand by her around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My father's family business was Rahway Lumber, a lumber and hardware store. I spent time being around paint chips,wood scraps, nails, and the lumber, I used to love to watch the guys make the paint. In college my father would take me to the lumberyard on Sundays.

That was literally..... I would come home with wood scraps and materials for my sculpture. I remember my mother, once in a while, would wash the wood shavings and dust out of my father's hair in the kitchen sink. That wood thing is in my blood.

Also, traveling to Israel when I was twelve had a huge impact. The contrasts, the old and the new, and being exposed for the first time to a different way of viewing the world was life changing.
 24 x 24 wax and oil
photo: Jay Rosenblatt
LH: Where do you live now?
Lisa: I live in West Orange NJ

LH: Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in?
Lisa: I studied ceramics , sculpture and painting at Douglass College. I went to Bard for my MFA in sculpture but came out with a MFA in painting.
LH: At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Lisa: I starting making pottery when I was about 15 and I thought that was what I was going to do. I fell in love with clay. It wasn't until college that I became interested in making art.

LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Lisa: I decided when I was in college. In the Douglass College art department there were some very interesting professors. They changed the way I thought about myself and what I was making. I have great respect for teachers, they can change lives.

LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general.
Lisa: I create work that slowly reveals itself through process, over time. I am interested in the unexpected moments in an intensely focused journey: intent and accident. Surfaces are luminous, textural, and meditative while, at the same time, they invite the viewer to explore, as an archeologist would dig for treasures hidden deep in the layers. The paintings are archeologically rich, referencing mapping, literature, and personal journals. Mark-making and collage elements add to an abstract narrative of marked time, places lost and re-found.

LH: What is your media?
Lisa: I am using wax, oil paint, graphite, india ink and papers.

Works on Paper 
12 x 12"
photo: Jay Rosenblatt

LH: What is your current work about?
Lisa: Recently, I set a few months aside to “not paint” Well “not painting” produced so much work. A new series came from that. It is so much easier to talk about the work in the past then the work I am in the middle of doing. My work informs me so right now, I am letting it. The new work is opening up what was underneath the paintings from my last series. There is an energy, an unraveling, a transparency, mark making, calligraphic line, a simplicity in the work. I am learning how to stop. I feel that I am using wax for its wonderful properties- translucency, transparency and for creating space. And I am using the oil paint for color. You will find remnants of journal pages, paper. This work along with most of my entire body of work addresses transformation, change and time passing.

LH: What is your workspace like?
Lisa: I work in the garage attached to our house. It is a bit tight with not enough natural light but I am happy to have the space. Having the studio in the house makes life easier for me.

Lisa Pressman's studio
photo: Lisa Pressman
LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
Lisa: I try to be the studio by 10:30 and putter around for a while. Clean up, organize and then I look at what's around and start to "play".

I am inspired by the process itself, which includes the fear, the courage, the self-doubt, and the bravado it takes to get to those few Zen moments that make a painting work. I am inspired by the shadows on the walls, the colors and smells of the seasons, gardening, books, poems, and words and other artists.

Lisa's painting table with years of paint
photo: Lisa Pressman

LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Lisa: Yes, I get stuck. Gardening, walking, using a different material, looking at books, taking pictures can help. A nap, also a few days break is always good.

LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Lisa: Being in the studio.

LH: What are you reading right now?
Lisa: My Father's Secret War, books on colleges for my 17 year old.

Lisa Pressman's working wall in her studio
photo: Lisa Pressman
LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Lisa: Oh, I have been waiting tables for 25 years. I also teach workshops and classes.

LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Lisa: I have been thinking of installations.......walls of paintings.
I would like to be able to travel to paint or teach. I would like to do an artist's residency.

LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
Lisa: I will be having a solo show at the Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia in January 2011.

To see more of Lisa's work and to read her blog, visit:


Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

Beautiful work and interesting interview. The very down to earth description of how Lisa works and how she lives her life is refreshing and inspiring.

lisa said...

Thanks for posting and reposting this Lynette. What fun for me to read three years later and to see how I have accomplished and grown. Great job on your blog also!