Lisa L. Cyr is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist and author. A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (BFA) and Syracuse University (MA), her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in museums, galleries, universities and at industry organizations, including traveling shows with the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles. Her work, which incorporates paint, collaged papers, found objects, layered panels, and more, has been featured in numerous magazines and in the seven books she has authored. Her latest book is Experimental Painting: Inspirational Approaches to Mixed Media Art, published by North Light Books.
Q: What is on your workspace right now?
My Spanish-style, cathedral ceiling studio is decorated with things that I’ve collected over the years, including handmade dolls, old classic books, a hand-crafted clock, several vintage typewriters, antique furniture and lamps, hand-crafted lace tablecloths and custom pillows as well as other nostalgic objects that speak to me in some way. By surrounding myself with elements that inspire, assimilation into the creative process becomes ongoing. The things that penetrate my mind on a daily basis, eventually find their way into my work in some extraordinary way.
Q: Why do you make art?
I make art because it is who I am. It is my contribution to the dynamic, ongoing dialogue of life.
Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it tool, supply, material, or junkyard find?
The art supply that I can’t pull from my arsenal is acrylic matte medium. I use it every day. It is a mixed-media must have in my opinion. I also love matte gel medium.
Q: What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
My process is pinned upon my enthusiasm. If I am bored, then my art will reflect that mindset. I try to only utilize techniques that keep me engaged and inspired.
Q: What’s your favorite tool or material?
My favorite tool is a custom treated roller. It allows me to texture a surface in a unique way, introducing signature mark-making and imprints onto the working ground. Click here to download a pdf of the step-by-step demonstration for making your own, from Experimental Painting.
Q: What do you listen to when you create?
When I am working, I enjoy listening to books on tape, mostly biographies and classic works of poetry and prose. I go to the local library almost every week, taking out audio adaptations of a wide range of works: from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson and Edgar Allan Poe to J.R.R. Tolkein, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm and many others. In addition, I also like to listen to nature soundtracks and instrumental music, especially scores created for the big screen. Their ability to conjure stories and induce surrealistic, dreamlike pictures in my mind allow me to drift off to another place and time, venturing outside myself into the world of the fantastic.
Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
Although I’ve had many interesting adventures, the year I spent abroad in Europe was quite memorable. In addition to studying art and architecture in London, I traveled throughout Europe by train. From the countryside to the culturally-rich cities of France, Italy, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, I relished in the inspirational art, design, architecture and customs of such extraordinary places.
Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
In my home, I am surrounded by lots of warm neutrals with burgundy, turquoise, black and gold accents throughout. If I had to pick just one color, then it would most likely be gold. I love how it shimmers, changes in the light and reflects other colors in its midst.
Q: Do you have a talisman/power garment/magical thing you wear?
I have no real magical garment per say but I do have a cross from Jerusalem hanging on my easel. It serves as a constant reminder of the blessings that I have been given and the importance of using my gifts and talents to uplift and inspire others.
Q: What’s your favorite place in all the world?
Although I enjoy traveling to many places, my most favorite place to be is in my studio. It is where I am most myself.
Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
I’d love to travel to Eastern Asia and Egypt someday. I absolutely love the art and architecture of those cultures.
Q: What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
One of my most memorable days came with the birth of my daughter, my greatest collaborative creation to date.
Q: What’s today’s Words to Live By?
I quote Alfred Lord Tennyson “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield” (from the poem Ulysses)
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
My on and off addiction to hazelnut coffee and chocolate in all its delicious forms.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
My superpower would be healing. I would love to use my life to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of others.
Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
Where do I begin with that list? At the end of the day, I would probably have to say Leonardo da Vinci, mainly because of his multidiscipline works as a painter, sculptor, inventor, architect, scientist, engineer and author.
Q: When is your favorite time of day?
My favorite time of day is early in the morning when I am alone with my thoughts taking a walk.
Q: What is your earliest memory?
I am not sure about the earliest memory but I can say without hesitation that my fondest memories come from the time I spent as a young child with my two grandmothers who not only taught me how to sew, knit, crochet and embroider but also encouraged me to draw from my imagination. They instilled in me the joy of creativity that is still present in me today.
Q: What’s your one favorite material thing?
I have several pieces of decorative fabric lace that were given to me by a good friend whose grandfather owned a shoe manufacturing company. The factory used the fabric lace to wrap shoes and purses with. The company is no longer in existence but I have these wonderful swatches that I use to deboss acrylic gel medium and molding paste with, creating fabulous textures as a result. (Click here to see a demonstration of the techniques I used, including debossing, to create the dimensional substrate used in The Courageous, shown below.)
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
Never back down from a challenge or be afraid to try, trust in your instincts as they are at the heart and soul of who you are, always take the high road in all that you do as Karma always seems to find its way back to you and lastly use your talents and gifts in a way that uplifts and inspires others.
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