Sunil Vilas exclusive interview’s Laara Williamsen Canadian abstract expressionist artist
It give me great pleasure to introduce our second interview staying in Canada.
I welcome Internationally acclaimed Canadian artist’s Laara Williamsen to our VIP Creative Lounge to continue our series of exclusive interviews.
1. Sunil – Creativity flows throughout our life but what was the first thing you can remember painting?
Laara – I remember my first painting when I was 5 years old attending Grade one. My teacher, Miss Lellman, held it up for the class to see! I painted a small picture of a blue sky, white clouds, mountains, trees and a grassy field with perspective! Raised on a farm, in a rural area, we did not have painting supplies in our home but we always had colorful crayons and my very first memory of creating was drawing a detailed lamb when I was about three years old.
2. Sunil – We dont wakeup one day and say I want to be an artists.., when did you first realize you were going to be an artist?
Laara – My mother asked me when I was five years old what I wanted to be when I grew up! I told her very clearly that I was an artist! I remember this so well because she said I really should be a teacher like she was. I remember giggling and saying “No,no, Mom, I am an artist!” My confidence was rather shaky however and even though I continued to create it wasn’t until my 25th year that I really claimed my life role as an artist! This was due to a dear friend, Christine Workman – Barnett who was already an established artist. Christine saw the worth in my creations.
She mentored me for over two years and finally one day I just woke up and acknowledged deep within that yes, I really am an artist in the eyes of the world. There was a cognitive “leap” in my understanding of my place in our contemporary art world as an artist, and this realization came when I was studying Modern Art History at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C., Canada But this idea of ” when did I realize I was artist” goes full circle because even when I was a shy child or dreamy teenager, I always knew that I was meant to be an artist.
I believe this is because I find such energy, joy and a great feeling of harmony when creating. Everything feels like it’s in exactly the right place within and without when I am creating!
3. Sunil – We all have individual style of painting.., How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen your work?
Laara – Sure, I like to keep my explanations simple! I like to paint with oils and acrylics. However, in the Springtime, when the blossoms are out I often work with watercolor because even the air is lightning up so then I like a media that is looser and lighter.
I paint in a way that could be called abstract but often you can see images of trees or water. I love people, nature and the city as well so these themes can be found in many of my paintings.
I have also completed several series of paintings depicting content about violence against women, the plight of street kids, cancer recovery, aides and other social issues. When I do these paintings in a series I hope that the artworks will help to bring about positive changes in our society.
But of course, once I finish the art work, I believe it gains a life of its own and people will interpret what they individually see and feel about the painting.
4. Sunil – It is a dream come true for all artists to have famous collectors can you share with us if your work is on any famous person’s wall?
Laara – Well my last sale, January 2013, was to Laurie March who is a television DIY personality in Los Angeles, California, USA. I have work that is held in the permanent collection at the Biuro Pronocji Kultury, Gdansk, Poland and in the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library, New York, NY, USA and Susan Hillman, International professional painter, born in England purchased one of my paintings many years ago.
5. Sunil – as you see our joint activities as a group Globalization ICAS is doing but personally if you had the opportunity to change something in the art industry what would it be?
Laara – Well, not very much because I see we are already moving into a totally new “art world” and all that encompasses this because of the rapid and open communication.
I am very happy that fellow artists around the world can communicate so freely and that the resulting art reflects this. So I see a tidal wave of changes already going on and I just want to observe for now and clap my hands!
6. Sunil – Do you have any other interests or talents that you’d like to share?
Yes, I love music and often play the piano’s black keys with my eyes closed just improvising. I love improvise drama as well and even though I am not as active in public performing as I was, my family and I really enjoy doing “in the moment little improvisations.”
So it is lot’s of fun! Poetry and writing are also my favorite activities. I am working on self publishing a book for people with cancer. It is almost ready and is called Pathways to Health.
And the second book I want to finish this year is Professional Development for Emerging Artists. I also love animals; dogs, cats, birds and horses and traveling to new places – exploring!
7. Sunil – My favourite question to ask by Describing yourself in 3 words; one has to be a colour?
Laara – Sunshine River Turquoise
Sunil continues..,- because this is what I think you believe people who get to know you personally will see in you!!!
8. Sunil – Once again can you elaborate more by telling us your perfect scenario for painting?
Laara – Sure, I am in a large studio with high ceilings with minimum 1,000 square feet and good natural north light from large windows, great ventilation, a 4 x 8 work table, a super sized easel, no music or sounds and lots of paintings supplies. No one interrupts my time in the studio!
I sit cross-legged on a floor pillow, deep breath and do relaxation techniques until my mind is stilled. Then I begin to have images floating across my mind. When I am perfectly calm I stand up, go to the easel and paint, paint, paint!
This describes several of my past studios and also a studio that I currently rent once or twice a month for larger works!
9. Sunil – It is a petty we are coming to the end of our interview…, Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
Laara – Yes, I sure do! One of the first steps that is very helpful to opening up your creativity is to work quickly and work all around the painting. Please do several – one right after the other. No thinking!. Just consider this preliminary work. If you can paint ten 20 inch x 30 inch sheets of poster stock with a large brush in less than one hour, you will find yourself developing your own way of painting.
Much like when we were learning handwriting, we needed to practice and then we developed our very own handwriting. This quick practice with paints will help you find your own art language!
Also, please photograph everything you do and try not to give your art away or sell it immediately. It is good to keep your paintings close to you so that you can refer back to them from time to time.
People may want to give you free advice about your paintings. If you get an “eureka” moment then the advice is good and you have learned something. If not then don’t pay attention to the advice. Just go ahead with what has true meaning for you!
You are creating from your own process at your own pace. Trust the timing of your growth. Don’t be hard on yourself by comparing your art work to others. Remember everyone makes marks in their own unique way. You are perfect in this moment.
Create everyday and just keep going! When you have a body of 20 to 25 works of art that are resolved to the same size, same media, definitely the same scale and content, you can begin to think about exhibiting! And please remember to photograph the paintings!
10. Sunil – Thank you for your more detailed and practical advice, inspiration as well eye-opening ideas for many new emerging artists to take notes from your life time experiences.., And finally our interview would not be complete by you sharing , what new work that you are currently working on?
Laara – I have three projects on the go. Because I have a little home studio I work there on my small series of environmental mixed media. These consist of many layers of acrylics and found objects such as nails, wood, shells, locks, roots! I have many of these mixed media going at the same time and I allow the layers to dry so these take a few months to complete.
In another loft studio near to where I live and near to the beach. I create medium-sized 16 x 20 or 20 x 24 oil or acrylic paintings of the natural surroundings combined with some drawing. It is better to work on the oils away from my home because they take a few months to dry and properly cure.
I rent a studio in the country and go there about once or twice a month. Here I can create 6 to 7 paintings sized 24 x 30 to 40 x60 in two days. These paintings are new larger experimental works. I am working with oils combining textures, colors, scraping down and drawing back into the paint to create abstractions.
Sunil – I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet you, it was a pleasant experience for us to talk openly, sharing your life story and your personal journey following the path of Arts ….,I look forward to the day when our path will cross again until than,
I take this opportunity to wish you a continued successes, good luck with your new project on the two books – “Pathway to Health” and “Professional Development for Emerging Artists” do please keep us informed…, Thank you for being part of Globalization ICAS and taking part in our exclusive interview!!
Laara – Thank you for your interest in my painting! It has been an interesting activity to share my thoughts in this Interview!
International acclaimed abstract expressionist painter
May 15, 1946, New Westminster, B.C. Canada
From the age of four years old, Laara WilliamSen was inspired to draw her natural surroundings while growing up in the Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. At the age of 19 years, she studied with the international artist, Robert E. Wood in both his New Westminster and North Vancouver, B.C. studios where she learned the foundation of composition and the skill oil painting.
In 1984, she began her four-year program at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C. and she graduated in 1988 with a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies. During her time at Emily Carr, she discovered her own abstracted art language that continues to evolve today. WilliamSen has been influenced by the paintings of W. Kandinsky, the Impressionists and the Fauve artists.
Fascinated by our relationship to the elements and by our human responses to the infinite cycles within nature, WilliamSen’s paintings are exemplary of her continuing and passionate exploration of this subject. She works with oils, acrylics or mixed media using a rich palette of colors, dramatic contrast and thick textures to form her compositions. Although she creates the painting, she believes that the completed painting has a life of its own.
WilliamSen has received four international awards, most notable, the Top Ten Painting Award in 1989 in the Artitudes competition sponsored by Gallery 54 in SoHo, New York, N.Y., U.S.A. and curated by the Fogg Museum, the Chicago MOMA and the Guild Hall Museum. Local awards include The B.C. Cultural fund and The B.C. Scholarship.
She has had seventy solo exhibitions and has been included in over eighty group exhibitions. Some exhibitions during the past two years include “The Peace Project – Make Peace 2012,” touring the USA, “Solo exhibition” at Small Rituals Society, White Rock, B.C., Canada, “Trees for Life Exhibition,” in Scotland, “Symbiose.” at the Summer Art Festival at the De Stads Galerij, Oude Vest 34, Breda, The Netherlands, “The Peace Project 2011 Peace Rises,” touring the USA, “Smiles for Children,” France and Poland, Artists for Freedom,” Ludwigshafen/Rhein, Germany, “The Town Hall,” Artists for Freedom, Bensdorf, Germany, “Galileo Museum,” Artists for Freedom, Lennestad, Germany, “The Armory Exhibition,” Pasadena, California, U.S.A., “International Contemporary Art,” London, United Kingdom, “Brooklyn Art Library,” New York, N.Y., U.S.A., “The Twitter Art & Social Media Group Exhibition,” juried at the Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., Canada and the “Infusion Gallery,” Hilo, Hawaii, USA. WilliamSen’s paintings are held in collections in Canada, the USA, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, China, Thailand and Australia.
Heather Sarin • NewZealand – I am delighted to read about Laara! She is an inspiration to the creative world! Her work is very pleasing to the eye and the colours are stunning. Her dedication to art is clearly visible in her paintings. She is natural. Canada has some hidden gems!
Well done! Sunil. Please keep the flow going. Great artist! Great interview! Great idea!
Peter Filzmaier • USA – The fluid compositions reflect a deep affinity for nature and are the works of an artisit at home in the outdoors. They reflect the essence and glory of nature evolving in the viewer’s mind, creating a yearning to flow with the mind that created them. The contrasts and colors bring life to the glory that surrounds us and confirm the artists ability to create a unique perspective of the power of creation.
Sunil Vilas • UK – Thank you Heather and Peter for your comments also adding value in our own way to the interview and as a contribution to the creative art industry. Our work we achieve here together will also be an inspiration for many years to come. Let us all make a leap in the history of Arts..,
Perhaps have contribution from members included here artists, art critics, galleries. Museums and art consultants to add you comments too!!!
Sunil Vilas • UK – Thank you to Archana ( India) and Jelica ( Serbia) for visiting us and acknowledging your interest in our series of exclusive interviews, please do keep in touch..,
Good news is that Laara join the list of panel of jury for which I am grateful to her and also Mona Youssef for strengthening our panel of juries for our monthly theme exhibitions.., Good Luck to everyone who submitted their entry for this month!!
I would like to extend the invitation to all members of Globalization ICAS to complete our exclusive interview by asking two individual questions to Laara Williamsen Canadian contemporary abstract artist? The platform is yours to add valuable contribution to complete our task together!!
Selina Maitreya • USA – I’d ask Laura, Sunil : how she keeps her channels open to Creativity despite living in a society that encourages us to rush, rush rush , and disconnect from creative source. How does she continue to channel through?
Laara WilliamSen • Canada – Selina! What a perfect question as I believe this to be one of my biggest challenges! How I keep my channel open to creativity is – I do meditation! Absolutely and over the years, this has become easier to access. When I get quiet on my floor pillow….
I truly quiet my breathing, let my thoughts slide away, relax all of my body. This was not easy to begin with and even many years ago in the 1980’s I remember being quite upset as one of my tenants renting a room at home had a seizure.
While caring for her and getting the ambulance I moved into a state of emergency. Once she was off to the hospital, I went to my studio and found that it took me four hours!!!! to reach the quiet place. However then I did do a big 4 x 5 painting in a few hours. I also believe that the ritual of setting out my materials in the studio is very important. I do this slowly and with care appreciating what I have to work with.
This is done just before I sit on my floor pillow. Also to live in our society….I do not watch the television news…ever. I prefer to get my news from groups such as GreenPeach, Avaaz, 360.com and other on-line sources. I find this news more honest and less sensational!!! There is more dignity for human beings.
I continue to practice “the gentle path” as much as I can daily being aware of my actions and attitudes. And what others may need or not need from me! I am sure Heather that this answer is rather too lengthy but I wanted to share with you as much as possible about your question.
I hope that this is helpful and I wish you all the best on your creative path!
Sunil Vilas • UK – Selina Thank you for asking the question to Laara hope she has fully satisfied a reply that you were looking for!!! I believe the question could also apply with all the negative activities taking place around the World.., disaster floods, fires earthquakes, tsunamis.., recessions and crises in life that artists still remain focus on their creativity in Art to flow or draw inspiration from the reply from Laara.
Laara what can I say I am lost for words..,In my mind I was half expecting an elaborate reply!! If any members would like to pick up on any points or also would like to join in with a question or two feel free to come forward..,this is your moment to do so
Not too long ago we had the privilege of inviting Laara Williamsen to our VIP Creative Lounge for an exclusive interview. Today we are catching up with her to see what she has been doing since.., She has just got back from her trip to the OZU Cultural Centre in Italy also to have the opportunity to preview some of her exciting work that she completed during her stay.
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