There are reams of things I could say about this lady. I have been gratefully devouring her book and her online course about being a working artist. It’s like having a big sister showing you the ropes and I’m full of admiration for the professional generosity and openness she cultivates as well as her excellent advice.
But here I just want to focus on her art. The thing I love about her as an artist is that she gives herself complete permission to be diverse and to follow her own geekery. It keeps her work so fresh and there’s a contagious kind of joy in it. She loves collecting things; she made a whole book of collections. She got excited about hand lettering and did a thing-a-day project. She loves swimming and is illustrating and writing a book about swimmers. Her work is bright and bold and as you’d expect, very varied. I have a particular soft-spot for her graphite and colour mixed media pieces.
I have found it really inspiring especially because as an artist, I am quite diverse. At the end of last year I was wondering if I should focus solely on large-scale paper-cuts (which I love) because apparently the market is happiest it when it knows you for something.
Inconveniently however, there are all these other things hanging around my psyche, being tantalisingly exciting. House portraits; urban sketches; pattern making; botanical drawing and watercolour; linocuts; art for children; paintings; screen-printing; shadow-box dioramas — it’s endless really. I often wonder if the afterlife is getting to go down every single avenue, all the way.
[My good friend told me that the Germans have a word for anxiety caused by our options and opportunities being limited by the finiteness of our existence — Torschlusspanik. It translates roughly as Gate-closing panic.]
But it’s true that being diverse is not as palatable or easy to place in the market. I don’t know yet how to bridge all of those gaps but for now, I’m giving myself permission to work and think in terms of collections and I’m very excited about it. Perhaps in a year I’ll be back here saying, no no, you have to specialise but I hope not. This is way more fun.
All images copyright of Lisa Congdon. http://lisacongdon.com/