studio visit: Christina Lovisa

Gone are the glorious hot days of Summer Vacation. The hot hot heat is gone but the memories are still present. Memories. Like a hot Ottawa day spent drinking coffee, eating from yummy food trucks, and touring galleries and art shops sans children. Memories. Like stumbling into Orange Art Gallery and finding ourselves in an hour long conversation with Christina Lovisa inside her studio. Here is a peek into our visit.

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How long have you had your studio downstairs here at Orange Art Gallery?

I moved into this lovely studio space in May 2015.

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I understand you are self-taught. Were you always creative or was there a hook or moment when you discovered your inner artist?

I believe we are all creative – some folks are just better practiced at keeping it that way. I was a dental hygienist and maintained small creative pursuits on the side. When my kids were old enough to be in school full days, I decided not to return to the dental work and take my art direction more seriously. That was fifteen years ago and I’ve never looked back.

I see that your work spans large abstract paintings to the mixed media encaustic pieces on your studio walls. How did you find yourself working in this medium – especially the encaustic & concrete?

Mixed media art has long been my go-to favourite medium. The layering of acrylics, polymer mediums, papers, and ephemera provide me with a portal into another time and space. When I learned how to paint in encaustic, I was dismayed to discover that those beautiful acrylics and mediums were incompatible with wax. If I wanted to have my paintings completed in the luscious, milky beeswax finish, I’d have to explore these two worlds and find a common ground, a place where they could seamlessly meet and dance across the canvas together. That discovery came to me through years of trial and error couples with endless courses and workshops.

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Christina’s art biography is full of interesting projects and pursuits. She has a product line for Cirque du Soleil, does demonstrations at art product exhibitions, and teaches workshops as well as create art for sale.

So let’s jump right into Cirque du Soleil. I gotta know about that. What kind of work did you create and how did that come to be?

A friend of mine introduced me to someone who was creating art pieces for Cirque du Soleil. My friend and this person felt that I should apply, that my art would be a good fit. To my delight, Cirque tested the waters with three of my paintings and the paintings sold within a week. The first project they brought me in on was the development of sample product for the Michael Jackson ONE show in Las Vegas. My original design, hand-painted fedoras are still one of the boutiques best sellers to date.

When I arrived Christina had just finished unpacking some large unframed rolled canvas pieces created at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.

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I work as a published artist for a company called Images 2000 / Northwood Collection. They invited me to paint live at the ICFF Spring show. Instead of just doing my own thing, I asked guests to inspire the paintings and then I shared my interpretation with them.

Christina shows me piece by piece the artworks created and shares with me the stories behind the creations. To me, the process is part intuitive, part therapist, part kinship. She would ask people to tell her a story or just tell her something to help spark the inspiration. My favorite story also happens to be my favorite “ICFF” piece.  It was inspired by another representative working at the ICFF show near the booth where Christina was set up. She came over to chat. Through conversation with Christina, this young woman began to comment on how lately she had been feeling gross and ‘like a whale’. Christina began painting. Later the woman came to see “her” painting and was told “everyone here has been drawn to you today. You are beautiful. Even if you feel like a ‘whale’, whales are beautiful. You need to find the beauty in yourself.

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Your art gigs are so unique and vast. How is it that you got yourself out there?

I have a great interest in taking my art around the globe. I am not sure where that interest comes from but when it comes to art I really feel a strong desire to expand. I am continuously taking workshops everywhere and completing applications to participate in exhibits in other cities. I also apply online to publishers and competitions globally. When I think about it, I really do put myself out there. I don’t really believe anyone has to be stuck in any kind of bubble unless that is what they want.

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“I really feel a strong desire to expand.”

I am curious about your creative process. Do you work on a single piece at a time or with several pieces on the go at once? And where is your starting point?

Interesting question because the answer may seem a little strange. I have to find my groove – sometimes it can take a while. That means for me, using up old paint, collaging papers and basically building a multi-layered background until the painting starts to speak to me and take shape. I rarely have a plan but when the inspiration kicks in, I feel “guided” to complete it, step by channeled step. I usually start several backgrounds at once but often one painting starts to speak a little louder and commands my attention to follow it through to the end.

What inspires you, artistically?

Authenticity-driven artists. I can’t really articulate who or what that is exactly. I can tell you however, when my intuition tells me that someone is operating from a place of passion for their art, it is evident to me in their work and that inspires me to dig a little deeper within my own self.

What are working on now and what is coming up for you in the next little while art wise?

My show “Horizons” at Orange Art Gallery opens in October this year. {*The show closed before this posting, on the 9th of November.} “Horizons” is the visual study of the meaning and suggestion from the strategic placement of a horizontal line across the canvas.  It comes from the Greek word “horos” meaning limit.  In this sense, horizon means the limit of a person’s vision.

My Articulate retreat is my biggest project on the go right now. I am really hoping it opens up the space for more retreats and, eventually, to destination art holiday retreats.

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“My favourite piece from the Horizons show is “Certainty”.  It was the last painting created for the show and somehow summarized and concluded my study of the simple horizontal line which divided the canvases.”

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Thank you so much to Christina Lovisa for the spontaneous visit. To see more of Christina’s work, check out her website. You can also find her work for sale through Orange Art Gallery and Hobbit Hole Co.

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