On a bright and sunny August afternoon, LifeFloat team member Colleen Louise Barry sat down with Seattle-based artist Laura Childs to chat about her upcoming art show at LifeFloat and the process behind her dreamy, line-driven work.
CLB: How did you get started as an artist?
LC: I’m really drawn to line-work; artworks that are simple but expressive. I actually studied architecture in school. I realized after filling journals and sketchbooks full of drawings that what I really wanted was to be an artist.
CLB: Tell us about the pieces you’ll be showing at LifeFloat.
LC: Most of the pieces that I make are contour drawings, using just a single connected line throughout the whole image. It is really meditative to use just one line to create an image that contains many different faces. I can zone out and see where my hand leads me, rather than trying to make my hand draw something my brain has already decided on. It takes the pressure off of me to make something perfect. Instead, I am always creating intricate maps.
CLB: I love the idea of the line being the great connector between all your drawings. It becomes a kind of metaphor!
LC: Definitely. Drawing is my main mode of working at the moment because I can do it anywhere; it allows me to observe the world around me very closely.
CLB: A lot of people float as a part of their self-care ritual, or as a tool for a meditation practice. Do you see drawing or creativity as a part of this as well?
LC: Oh yeah. I draw everyday as soon as I get home from work. It helps me clear my mind, relax my body. I first learned to connect drawing and creating with self-care and meditation in college during a blind contour exercise in an art class. I did my first blind contour drawing of my hand; it actually turned out well! I was amazed at this because I never felt as satisfied with other drawings I had attempted where I was so focused on translating life perfectly. I felt so satisfied with my blind contour hand drawing, during which I had totally let my mind relax. I liked the way it looked: a big, unconscious scribble that was still a recognizable shape and image from my everyday life.
[For those who aren’t familiar, blind contour drawing is a process wherein an artist draws the contour of a subject without looking at the paper, fixing their eyes on and tracking the outline of the subject while simultaneously drawing its contour very slowly, in a steady, continuous line, without lifting the pencil/pen or looking at the paper.]
CLB: Should we try to draw each other as blind contours right now?
CLB: That was amazing; so much of floating is about taking away some of the senses we rely on so heavily each day in order to check back in with our deeper selves. Drawing the blind contour portrait of you and letting you draw a portrait of me made me think of that process. When we take away our reliance on staring and evaluating what we’re making as we make it, we let the drawing become whatever it wants to become, and we have to trust ourselves. The process becomes a new way of seeing.
LC: Totally. I love drawing this way, too, because it never turns out perfectly. It will always look a little off, but it will always look like I drew it.
CLB: When you draw your one-line pieces, are they always blind contour?
LC: No, I actually rarely use blind contour except for warm-up. My one-line pieces use just that concept from the blind contour exercise. It is a great practice and a way to check in with myself and process my day. I trust myself that the way I see things is good and true.
CLB: It seems that this one-line method of drawing is so helpful not only for seeing the way things are connected, but also for breaking up the world into draw-able chunks. Instead of seeing just a tree, you see the shapes and patterns.
LC: I always start with the details first. Those are my favorite parts. The larger outlines can be a little looser; people’s brains will fill in the rest.
CLB: So you draw everyday. I also know that you journal everyday. When you sit down to draw, is it different than when you sit down to journal?
LC: Yes. Journaling allows me to chronicle what has happened to me directly. I collaborate with my friends in my journals as well. Sometimes we will sit down together in a cafe or other place and spend a while drawing and writing together. Then it becomes a capsule of both our experiences of a moment and space.
CLB: So the journals on display in LifeFloat are a collaboration?
LC: They are; collaborating with friends is amazing because it allows the work to become a direct communication tool. Writing is not my main mode of work, but I have many friends who are writers. It feels really good to use our skills to create a complete picture together. I get really
CLB: How do you feel about being an artist in Seattle right now?
LC: I love it! Seattle has a huge art and zine community. It is down to earth and very supportive. In particular I love participating in Dune cartooning night; I love collaborating with everyone.
CLB: Any advice for young artists starting out?
LC: I feel like I am just starting out! But if I could offer any advice, it would be to not worry about what others think. Draw what you want and need and the rest will come. Enjoy making whatever you make.
Colleen Louise Barry
Founder of Seattle based, Mount Analogue a new kind of press, focused on words + images, collaboration + community, and intellectual courage. Mount Analogue produces video, audio, and print projects and collaborations of all kinds. http://www.mount-analogue.com/info/