Step into the creative mind of Lisa Hertel!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? Where did you study? How long have you been an artist?
A: My mother–and her mother before her–are amateur artists; my mother used to do the craft show circuit with her jewelry (mostly beading). My daughter is also an artist. As a kid, I was always drawing and making things. At eight, I took my first pottery class, and continued through high school. When I became a mom, I took up pottery again. In addition, I took other art classes, including several drawing courses, both in college and afterwards. When I decided to leave pharmacy, art seemed like a natural choice; it makes me happy. I really enjoyed watercolors, and have always liked clay, so I concentrated on those, but sometimes dabble in other things. I’m always learning!
Q: What is the first thing you remember making/creating by hand?
A: I remember drawing a lot as a kid, favoring the usual subjects, like houses and rainbows. I also played a lot with Plasticine–it ended up a dirty brick red. I was forbidden Legos (though I have a good collection now), so I had to make do with Tinker Toys (real wood!), blocks, and other things. I lusted after my brother’s Erector Set. I still have some of my earliest clay creations, including my first wheel-thrown bowl, my first coil work, and some early slab work.
Q: What is your biggest obstacle with your art?
A: I am sometimes hampered by the limits of the materials, but I am more often hampered by my own abilities. That’s why I got a studio at Western Avenue; to both learn from fellow artists and to make me do art. I don’t sell much at Western Avenue–my stuff is a bit too far from the norm–but I do well at science fiction conventions. I would love to make more money and be self-supporting.
Q: Describe a typical art creativity session. What is it like? For example, do you work in silence, or do you work to music? Do you prefer to be alone, or do you need people around?
A: I get more work done when I’m alone, but I get more ideas when others are around. I don’t usually put on music, but I don’t mind it in the background. (I will occasionally put it on when the place is eerily empty.) I’ll occasionally work on several things at once; for example, I can only work on a large pencil for an hour or two at a time, so I will switch off to other things. I get a lot done during Open Studios, and I think people enjoy watching me at my kickwheel.
Q: How does your personality translate into your art?
A: I love science fiction, fantasy and myth, and it inspires a lot of my work. I’m also an innate doodler–my friend Scott McCloud (author of Understanding Comics) once said I was one of the best doodlers he’d even seen–so I tend to go for all those little details: tree branches, the textures of the rocks, which way the fur grows. I actually envy the people who are more abstract, since my perfectionism is a bit of a madness. I’m also fond of animals–as a little girl, I was horse-crazy, and I’ve had lots of pets over the years–so I tend to draw animals a lot. I don’t anthropomorphize them, but they do seem to come out cute.
Q: Tell us about some of your goals for the next 6-12 months.
A: Practice, practice, practice. Also, I am working on getting my own kiln installed, which will be very exciting. My next watercolor project is The Frog Prince–I’m still working on the composition. I would also like to make some things to go into the wood-fired kiln that Yary Livan runs.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the arts community?
That there is a community at Western Avenue. Sure, I could do clay in my basement, and watercolors in my kitchen. But by wandering about, chatting with different artists, even just seeing what’s up on the walls, I get so many ideas, and have made so many friends. And we are all supportive of each other.
Q: Describe your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning.
A: I tend to spend my Sunday mornings with the family and the Sunday Globe–reading the comics, doing the crossword and sudoku in the Globe Magazine, reading Parade, and cutting out the coupons (I’m not one of those crazed people, but I do organize and use coupons.) The actual paper may get a glance, but the bulk of it ends up in recycling, or at the studio to wrap things or be used for clay projects. Mostly, I treat my studio as a job, and am in on weekdays. Weekends are for family.
You can meet Lisa and see more of her beautiful work on the First Saturday of each month, in her Studio 109 at Western Ave!