Conversations with an Artist: Lisa Joss
Lisa is the artist behind the encaustic series, “There are more stars in the sky than sand on earth” featured in the store. This series conjures the vastness of space, the depths of the ocean, the glistening in a wave, the sparkle in the tail of a meteorite during its atmospheric flight. Creating an encaustic is a timely process: developing the medium and fusing the layers with heat, over and over until the desired effect is achieved. We love the subtleties of texture and the pops of color in this work.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I was four years old, and my mother must have known before I did because she signed me up at an arts oriented early education school. It was called the Creative Workshop (est. 1959 and now Pinewood School) in Los Altos, California. We were looking at leaves under a microscope and drawing only the lines within the leaf — not the edges. I couldn’t get enough.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
In my work I pursue contrasts. Typically I enjoy using organic materials and contrasting them with something very intentional or seemingly synthetic.
Tell us about what influenced your direction for your encaustic work?
Encaustic allows me to combine the organic materials: beeswax, (tree) resin and currently glass in the form of glitter, on wood panels to create a finished piece. It interests me to almost trick the eye into believing it’s a simplistic, easily achieved finish, as though it was perhaps done by a machine or with great ease.
How has your work developed over time?
Well first it’s always a matter of understanding the materials and how I can get them to do what I want. But even that is a negotiation between the materials and myself — each informs the other.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
At the moment I would have to say the most indispensable item is my heat gun. But in fact it’s actually my imagination that’s most important from project to project.
Do you collect anything?
I collect found plastic items. It may be a small plastic dinosaur or a small vintage ball. They are highly manufactured yet they’ve been found in the midst of a redwood grove or on the beach. This contrast thrills me.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
Every thing around me at all times! I love to open my ears, eyes and mind to new things constantly. But the two most immediate inspirations are as follows: One is a set of two individual vintage doll eyes each of which had been removed from the doll. It was clear they were the sort that allowed the doll to blink. Somehow, sitting on shelf like a couple of mechanical marbles was very compelling. My immediate thought was hmm, where else could they be placed? In the surface of a wall? On the end of my finger?
The other is a documentary film about the artist Louise Bourgeois filmed when she was in her late 80s and still making art. Her courageous determination to use her childhood experiences as the emotional point of departure for her work was extremely impressive. Her body of work includes everything from installation to painting and sculpture and is largely biographical.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Don’t expect to know it all at once, or suddenly like the burst of a light bulb. Just keep going, keep listening, and be brave.
"There are more stars in the sky than sand on earth."
Eye of the Sea
Ocean (lg, $420), Wave (xs, $70), Eye of the Sea (xs, $70), Solar (lg, $420)
If you’d like more information about Lisa's art, please do get in touch, email@example.com or 415–569–4383.
Until next time,
Bonnie & Jeffrey