Lisa Rodden is a Visual Artist, Creator, Designer, Idealist, Colourist and Day Dreamer. Here is a glimpse inside her projects, thoughts and ponderings.
The other day someone asked if I could share how I paint the background on my artworks.
Well first of all, they all vary depending on what the artwork is and what sort of feeling I want to create. It's a combination of colour, texture and a careful balance of how much detail to put in as it can often lose it's impact if there's too much going on.
There have been times I've spent hours painting a beautiful background which looks stunning on it's own and then I put the top layer over ( the paper cut) and not only is all the beautiful detail lost, but it can actually ruin the artwork. So I feel very self conscious in sharing these images of what appears to be a less than perfect painting but once you see the finished effect, you will understand.
It really is a case of separate pieces coming together to create a beautiful whole.
"Can I Come Too?"Part of the "Can I Come Too?" series
I'm working on a new piece in the "Can I Come Too?" series for a lovely customer. Loving this earthy colour palette.
Part 2 of the Joshua Yeldham workshop was held yesterday. I don't feel I could do it justice to explain it and I almost feel like it would be breaking a trust that we (the group) developed throughout the process.
Instead I will share with you the self portrait we had to do during the week as homework. It was all about the process, not the outcome so it was very challenging to let go of the intellect when making this, to not judge it for all the technical imperfections and just allow the act of pure creation to occur. It's intensely personal so although I'm uncomfortable with sharing this in the public domain, it was such an amazing experience I'm hoping that some of that energy has been captured in the work and might resonate with some of you enough to inspire you to 'start/continue/come back to' making space for creativity in your daily life.
When you tap into pure creation and it's just about mark making (no judgement), you operate at a different level - it's raw, it's very physical and it's truly beautiful. It is something that will enrich your life and that of those around you. If you think you can't do it or you don't have time you're wrong. Can you doodle? Can you day dream? Obviously that's a much smaller scale of what I'm trying to explain above but that's a simple, manageable way to start making it a daily part of your busy life.
Workshop exercise -Self PortraitSuch a confronting yet beautiful experience doing this exercise
Homework Self Portrait - ink, acrylic, charcoal on paper
* A bit of background for those of you that don't know, I was lucky enough to participate in a two part workshop facilitated by Joshua Yeldham. It was a workshop on creativity and a few things I took away from it are:
1. we need to stop strangling the life out of things to try and maintain them (creativity, relationships, work, everything) and instead let go and allow them to follow their natural course. That may sometimes result in outcomes we don't want but it is the natural flow of things and how you will tap into your true creativity.
2. make time and space for pure creativity - like exercise and healthy eating, it will make you a more balanced person.
3. think for yourself, or rather, stop thinking! As children we are taught that trees should be green and the sun is yellow so we're already existing in a world of boundaries without even being aware of it. Stop thinking about it so much, let go and paint a purple sun in the shape of a triangle, using your elbow instead of a brush if that's what you're feeling.
NB: These are not necessarily what was said in the workshops, it is just some of the things that arose for me out of various discussions. There is so much more but as I mentioned at the beginning, I don't think this is the time.
Workshop entry - Self portraitSubmission for a place in the workshop
Workshop submission Self Portrait - Hand cut paper, water colour, thread
I'm slowly recovering from the shock received by leaving the warm and sunny embrace of Queensland to return to beautiful Sydney, only to find that it's cold and rainy. Last weekend we decided it was time to stop being soft, swap the snuggly ugglies (ugg boots) for walking shoes and brave the unruly elements. So we set off on a little adventure to Cockatoo Island to get reacquainted with the harbour and check out some of the Biennale of Sydney. Steeped in history, it's such a fantastic place for industrial and peeling paint inspiration - and that's not even the art installations!
Zilla LeuteneggerZilla Leutenegger
The real stand out exhibit for me was Zilla Leutenegger (pictured above). Using a combination of drawings, projections and sound, she brings life to the rooms of an abandoned and seriously run down house. In this one I snapped (not a very good photo sorry!), the girl and the light beam are a projected animation. She just sits there casually, repeatedly pushing the light so it swings back and forth and the light beam is perfectly aligned to move along the line of the static, hand drawn picture. It's kind of eery but so peaceful and hypnotic at the same time. It creates mixed emotions as it feels more like you're sticky beaking through someone's home, but you know it's ok because it's not a real person, but then her presence is very strong. I wish now I actually filmed a bit of it but I guess, if you're in Sydney or can get to Sydney, you'll just have to visit the island and see for yourself :-) It's a lovely ferry ride and a nice day out (even in the rain).
I seemed to take a lot of photos of the buildings and not the artworks! Here are a handful of my favourites.
I've always been a fan of aging things, peeling paint, things with scars and dints, that carry history and have character from being loved and used. This is great though - it's fabric! painted to look like old bricks. Cool huh? I'm not sure if that was part of an installation or just to make the wall partition look in keeping with the rest of the place.
The rest of the pics below are just random shots of yummy textures, interesting patterns and colours.
Paper Bag Portrait 1Photographer: Lisa Rodden Model: Lisa Rodden Stylist: Lisa Rodden Hair and makeup: Lisa Rodden Paper Bag: Stylists own Paper Bag Portrait 2Photographer: Lisa Rodden Model: Lisa Rodden Stylist: Lisa Rodden Hair and makeup: Lisa Rodden Paper Bag: Stylists own
Some years back I was travelling through Thailand and on the way back to the airport I noticed a billboard with a beautiful, pale, asian lady advertising some sort of cosmetics. Then I realised it was advertising skin whitening cream. It was like a massive 'slap in the face' realisation - now picture in your mind, as they do in the movies to someone acting hysterically - they grab them by the collar, shake them furiously and inches from their face yell "snap out of it!!", perhaps a bit of spittle might fly, then they slap them melodramatically across the face. That's how I felt. I realised then, just how blatantly and subtly and insidiously we are brainwashed every day by media and marketing into believing that, however we are born, it's not good enough.
The reason this particular billboard advertisement was such a powerful message to me was not because it was impressive, funny or clever. No, it was because growing up in Australia, predominantly caucasion in the cities*, our billboards were full of beautiful, bronzed, caucasion women promoting skin tanning lotions. This is still the image portrayed by much of our media ie. tanned beach babes with long blond hair. So in one country they were promoting the exact opposite to what they were promoting in another country based on the dominant skin colour. The message in these ads was, no matter who you are, where you are, your skin is not the right colour. These days they're even cleverer and often have men in white coats to tell you how important their product is for your health/beauty/well being. Their aim is to create a need by creating the idea that we as individuals do not measure up.
Photographer: Lisa Rodden, Model: Lisa Rodden, Stylist: Lisa Rodden, Hair and makeup: Lisa Rodden, Paper Bag: Stylists own
If you want to use my images, please contact me for permission.
I am certainly not against good personal hygiene, even indulging in the nicer things if you're able, like moisturisers, makeup, putting on a pretty frock and getting your hair done etc. There is a certain satisfaction in taking time to primp and preen, even the animals do it, and I'm sure it's healthy for us to take time out to look after ourselves. What I have issue with is people being told that what they are born with is not enough. When are we going to learn to celebrate all the differences, not just in others, but within ourselves?! As we become a global society we are having a lot more conversations about accepting diversity and respecting one another but we're still not talking about respecting ourselves and HOW to respect ourselves.
Now there's certainly a whole other discussion to be had around people looking after their own interests too much, but I'm talking about living selfully, not selfishly (yes I just created a new word :-) ). Selfully i.e.: being true to yourself, listening to your body and your intuition, loving your body and your mind and acting in the best interest of your body and mind for a more harmonious and healthy life (which in turn will improve the lives of those around you). It's a win/win situation - if you're happy within yourself, how can you be mean to someone else?
That means good food, exercise, meditation and surrounding yourself with good supportive people, etc. And trying to remember that all media is the result of someone's imagination with an army of stylists and makeup artists and lighting technicians and graphic designers. It's not real. It's hard enough to work on the basics of good health every day so why waste energies on the unachievable imaginary?
I was listening to a talk recently ** and was told a story of how we see a beautiful woman with a stunning figure, long silky hair and lovely long nails and we think "oh, she's so beautiful, what gorgeous hair, I want her/want to be like her" but then she cooks you dinner and one of her hairs is in your plate of food. It's a different story then - it's offensive "oh I don't want to eat this now, that's disgusting!" and even worse if it's a finger nail in your food! The point being that beauty is not real. It's an idea and it's always changing. We need to start admiring and emulating good thoughts and actions.
And to wrap it up - here is a beautiful speech given recently by Lupita Nyong'o (click here) that nails everything I'm trying to say. I'm sure my experience was very different to hers, but I know that as an impressionable teenager, I would spend 8 hours in a day at the beach, smothered in coconut oil, deep frying my mottled white skin in the Australian sun (with a hole in the Ozone layer) to try and obtain an unobtainable colour. I will no doubt end up with melanomas at some point in my life as a result (as will a lot of Australians of my generation). So how about we just start telling each other that we're beautiful the way we are and if we start behaving like it as a community, we might even start treating ourselves like we actually are.
Being an artist's blog, I felt I should create a piece to reflect my musings and so we have my Paper Bag Portraits. The humble paper bag has often been used to hide ugliness or shame. "I feel like putting a paper bag over my head", "He/she should put a paper bag over their head". It creates anonymity, a protective barrier between the individual and the viewer, blocks the 'windows to the soul', it's familiar and disconcerting at the same time. In these images, we can only get part of the story through posture and costume, and in covering the head we are unable to really connect with the person. It also means we can't make the basic assumptions normally made on first sight, which forces us to remain open to possibilities in the absence of information. This woman is still displaying emotions and vanity but is not defined by the vastly varied and subjective ideas of beauty.
* I'm sure that point could be argued - let me say at least that, in my experience, the majority of TV and media has, for the better part of my life, targeted caucasions, although this is thankfully changing and becoming more diverse and representative of our people.
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