Lisa Congdon is inspiring to me because (like me) she’s a self-taught artist—no fancy art school, no grad school connections with whom to jump-start careers—and didn’t start working as an artist until she was in her thirties.
She’s one of those people that give the self-taught, mid-thirties, bible-college-grad like me a bit of hope for this “career” I’m working on.
Because I have a tendency to want to do everything NOW.
I’m not sure if it has to do with my health history and that at any given moment I may have 6 months or less to live, but it seems like I’ve kind of always been this way. I was in way too much of a hurry to grow up when I was a teenager and as a college student I had pretty much planned to finish my life’s work by the time I was thirty (of course at that time I considered 30 pretty much the end of anyone’s life anyway).
So when I come across an artist like Lisa and see the years she’s invested to become the artist she is today it’s a good and sober reminder to me to quit worrying and keep working.
I totally love Lisa’s distinct style. It is really quite amazing how she manages to incorporate a wide variety of media and technique but still leave each piece recognizable as hers.
Lisa has a great positive personality which is evident in her work and always brings a bit of sunshine to my Twitter world (although her sunshine-y California tweets do induce a bit of jealousy when I’m covered in freezing cold gray skies)
Tell us one of your favorite odors.
The smell of dry Fall leaves.
What is it about that particular smell?
I love Fall. For me, it represents the romantic transition from being out in the world (summer) to hibernation (winter). When I was a kid, my dad would rake all the leaves in the yard and then let us jump on the piles and make a mess. I love the smell of leaves in the crisp fall air.
What experience makes you feel alive?
I am an avid road cyclist and go for long rides often. In California, we have some pretty steep hills and mountains. I love the climb those hills on my bike (even though it can be excruciatingly painful) and then descend down the other side. Pushing my body to its physical limits makes me feel very alive.
What fears do you have?
I do not like to fly because I find turbulence scary. Even though I know it’s typically not dangerous. I travel a lot and so I have learned to deal with it, but it never seems to abate. So it also might make sense that I also don’t like anything that involves extreme motion+speed: roller coasters, carnival rides, even watching fast 3-D movies.
What have you learned about yourself over the past year?
I need enormous structure in my life. I am incredibly right brained and can wake up feeling totally overwhelmed everyday with creative ideas, potential projects, tasks, etc. I feel calmer when I can create some order in my life and create some focus (ie: get up, go for a swim, work on X from 10-12 and then work on X from 1-2, etc etc). Until I figured this out, I felt lost and ineffective as a self employed artist. I have to work hard to stay organized, but it keeps me grounded.
Are you working on anything cool right now?
I am working on illustrating a children’s book on a famous photographer from the 1920’s. That’s all I can say about it at the moment, but it’s an incredibly fun project and I am working with an awesome art director. The book will be beautiful.
Do you find your creative work a spiritual experience? In what way?
Absolutely. I used to work in an office for 8-10 hours a day at a computer and I was miserable + felt dead inside. At the time, I had no idea what real joy felt like, at least real joy associated with “work”. Now that I live and breath making art, I am in a constant cycle of inspiration (creating inspires more creating, etc etc) which to me is the essence of a spiritual experience. I think the process of creating from your own unique vision combined with the satisfaction of being able to share your work with the world afterward is an incredibly rich internal experience if you allow yourself …
What tunes have you been hooked on lately?
In frequent rotation on my iPod lately are the new Bon Iver album, The National, Band of Horses, Beth Ditto and The Gossip, Lovers, Cults, Sigur Ros (can’t get enough of them), Ólöf Arnolds…
[Editor Note: never heard of Ólöf Arnolds? She’s just one of several Icelandic artists featured on the ever-growing Strong Odors playlist. Subscribe on Spotify so we can listen to all the same music all the time and take over the world]
More Lisa Congdon
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Lisa Congdon Etsy Shop (don’t forget – save 15% with the code :STRONGODORS)
Lisa Congdon Fine Art Shop on Gallery Hijinks (is that Sól painting awesome or what?)