I first met Lauren Mormino in a painting class last semester, one that was offered at the southern Illinois community college where I teach English 101 and Creative Writing as well. This was also a section wherein many of us were returning to work with a beloved and trusted instructor (our own fearless expressionist mentor extraordinaire and zen dude, Dave Woesthaus) and as you might expect, most had already bonded and built a tight little community so naturally the “new” students seemed a real curiosity.
Balloon Faces by Lauren Mormino, acrylic on canvas
I remember immediately being drawn into Lauren’s world initially in seeing her self-portrait work. These faces and figures were really raw and vulnerable. . .and I was impressed by the artist’s bold strokes, her brave demeanor; she took a lot of risks, ones that many of us might habitually shy away from. . and they always paid off.
Lauren was the queen of happy accidents I might add. . .always in full playful mode, splashing and mucking about with mixing color and applying bold strokes of it. It was a joyful experience painting near her and seeing her process unfold. I loved how you could literally look over one minute and take a mental snapshot of a specific image and in five minutes, that image had been replaced by something entirely new and engaging. It was especially fun to watch her work collaboratively with her good friend and fellow student, Jesse White.
Lauren Mormino and Jesse White, acrylic on canvas
The color and narrative is just so vivid here, isn’t it?
I will say that Lauren’s critiques of my own work were usually spot on and I loved that she could just walk over and point out what the piece needed next.
It’s been a real joy getting to know Lauren this past year. And I am delighted to share her with you too now!
So here comes the interview. Prepare to be amazed and delighted in viewing this work. Personally I always find myself staring at these pieces forever, trying to find all the layers of color; at the same time I am also drawn to the narrative lines here. What is it these faces are trying to say to me? What are the secrets behind the eyes, so blatantly frank and yet so hard to pinpoint or define?
Question 1: Do you have a ritual to get things started? Music stuff. . .listening material?
What inspires you most?
My pieces, as you’ve seen evolve overtime, sometimes
gradually, sometimes drastically. I paint with music and in my space I blare the
music and sing along it helps me get into my zone, or autopilot as I call it. I
don’t think I just do. I could stare at the faces of strangers for hours trying to draw or paint
them to their likeness but, some people just aren’t willing!
I usually take photos and photoshop the color scheme
I want and then sit
with my lap top and canvas I really don’t know what my process is. I just do it.
How have you evolved in your process?
What learning experiences have had the biggest impact?
I first started seriously painting my junior year of
high school; my first couple of paintings had awful perspective and just weren’t
very good but my first success happened with an accident. So I incorporated
sewing and it turned out in my favor. It’s safe to say that’s how most of my
work is. “happy accidents.”
“Planar. Picture.” acrylic on canvas, Lauren Mormino 2011.
If you could do dinner with any creative person, dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go to dinner? What would you order and what questions would you ask?
I think I would love to go to dinner with Lucian Freud
But I would rather have him take me home so I could watch him paint. I have a
giant book of his art work
and am fascinated looking through it!
Now that you have made your marks, pass the torch…what advice do you have for other emerging artists?
Don’t worry if nobody likes your work. If you’re proud, keep going!