Conversations with an Artist: Louesa Roebuck
Louesa Roebuck is co-creator and subject of the gorgeous book, Foraged Flora. She is a multi-faceted artist who began her printmaking training at RISD and over the years has created various bodies of work that emerge from the same ethos—and which harmoniously hang together: Her landscape monotypes touch a deep place of memory and are a container for her California story. She is a fierce supporter of being hyper local and in-season in her floral installs, working with what is already abundant and with a "do no harm" approach in every aspect (Chez Panisse, Vivienne Westwood, the late John Baldessari and Michael Pollan are recipients of her talent, to name a few). These, along with her beeswax painted photographs of her floral installations and her beeswax dipped flora candles, reflect Louesa’s deep and sustaining love for nature and observation. We're captivated by her art and how she sees.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
Birth till now.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
I shy away from the phrase theme… sounds like an amusement park, ad campaign or movie. My passion is, and always has been, cultivating a deep love and deep, sustained observation of what we humans call [in our limited understanding and language] "nature." Which to me is EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING except the artificial worlds humans have created. Since as early as I can remember I was inspired, fed, educated, illuminated, comforted, sustained and held by animals and “nature.”
I keep quoting Guillermo del Toro: “Seeing is love.”
I try to create, write and paint with the least amount of human lens possible. To shut off the part of my brain that’s noise and truly tap into intuition, movement, color, line and what I've learned through a lifetime of observation of landscapes.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your artworks.
I hope I'm being influenced constantly, and that it's changing daily… but again: "nature." And those few artists where I see a poetic response or articulation without bullshit.
How has your work developed over time?
I don’t know. That would be up to the viewer not me.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
Scrap, my beloved rescue Chihuahua/Dachshund/Terrier mix.
All of the fetishes, bones, feathers, shrines, incense, art my great grandmother made.
Little studies of mine.
Outsider art from the shows I curated with Creative Growth (Oakland).
Sumi and walnut ink.
Do you collect anything?
Every artist does, I think. Mostly things I pick up walking. Or gifts from humans I love. Or fetishes I feel give me power and help me tap into places I need to go.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I hate that question. I think and hope that if our eyes, heart and spirit are open, that’s happening all day. And it puts a hierarchy into inspiration which is a human foible. But here goes:
The hot springs next to the running river on a cool post-equinox dark night...last night.
The birds feasting on our pokeberries before winter comes.
Mike Diaz' gothic, surreal , prickly furniture at the Blackman Cruz opening we helped trick out with bloody, poisonous, prickly fora last week.
I watch documentaries... Truth is stranger and usually more entertaining and educating than fiction: Filmworker, Studio 54, Wild Wild Country.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Just let it unfold, be brave, follow your intuition and be at ease and in love with the mystery. We aren’t in charge.
On Louesa's Monotypes, she says:
This series of prints reflects my deep love for, and (I hope) constant observation of the ever changing and non-linear landscapes where we live. As I worked on these pieces over the past few months, I noticed the increasing presence of water in my work, in all its forms— the ocean, fog, the rain, and dew. In fact, dew was an active participant in creating some of these works! I think this comes from an intense awareness of the landscape’s craving for water, in this time of drought.
For more on Louesa's monotypes, visit our Fine Art page on this work.
The emotion that springs from all of Louesa's works come from a place of free-spirited animation. We love how she honors an ecology-first life philosophy across a variety of media and the creative tension that exists between the container and the freedom—that both breaks rules (the human ones that don't make sense) and honors the earth (love, action, imperfection).
It's been a journey of compassion for the natural world, seen, too, in what was her edgy shop called August in the East Bay, closed in 2009. Described as "a seminal and before its time fashion, art, and community hub," August was an early proponent of the intersection of luxury apparel and green socially responsible textile practices.
As we do with our organic, local, in season produce shopping, we encourage our readers to take heed from Louesa: “Do no harm.” Get educated and involved. NO agribusiness—don’t purchase flora that has been flown in from around the globe, using agricultural poisons, and underpaid farm workers. NO floral foam—it basically never breaks down in our oceans. DO get to know your farmers. DO keep it local, seasonal and organic. DO forage and glean when and where you can—embrace irregularity and decay.
Come see her work at the shop!
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey