Lisa L. Cyr is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist and author with a content-driven approach. Her highly imaginative, fantasy-inspired works use layers of metaphor and allegory to stimulate curiosity, provoke thought and encourage further inspection. A poetic, rhythmic synthesis of drawing, painting, collage and assemblage, Cyr's visually tactile, mixed-media work is composed to collectively create a new reality with a more expressive, symbolic arrangement.
Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in museums, galleries, universities and at industry organizations, including traveling shows with the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in magazines, books and online, including numerous features in Spectrum. In addition, Cyr's art is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration, NYC as well as in private collections.
Can you talk about your unique working process?
"The creative process, for me, always begins with an inspired idea from my journals. When I write, I am able to make a connection with a subject that is personal. Once I have a direction, I can focus on how to bring my concept to life. I love to work in layers, in both the physical grounds that I build and the materials I apply on top. To push the picture plane into the third dimension, I will often insert boxes, apply imaginary windows and add assemblage accents. I love the way the typography of a multi-dimensional ground can alter the reading of a piece of art.
When it comes to materials, I am drawn to the way a layered aesthetic can create a visually dynamic, tactile environment. I will introduce elements of collage that are ripped, cut and punched, apply acrylic gel medium and deboss into it with various textures, add molding paste or gesso mixed with sand, saw dust, glass beads and other elements to the working surface using a palette knife, trowel or comb or I’ll even apply cloth to the surface in a sculptural way. I work in a push-pull process, where I put things onto the working ground only to later scrape, scratch and peel back into it, arriving at an environment that ignites my imagination.
To keep my process fresh, I experiment every day, exploring new materials and processes. There are happy accidents that happen when I begin to play. Things that I could not have predicted occur and I love to use what I have discovered in my illustrative works. I enjoy the entire creative process, from that first spark of inspiration to the later marketing and launch of the work into the culture."
What is the most exciting thing you’ve learned recently?
"It is not something recent but certainly is a methodology that I have been further experimenting with. I am doing more architectural, sculptural and bas-relief accents in my painted works. My art making tools are getting more and more powerful and even industrial sized!"
What advice can you share with young artists going out into the world, trying to make their mark?
"In the beginning, learn as much as you can about picture making, from classical to more abstract and experimental approaches. Don’t limit yourself. Open up your mind to the possibilities that exist across ideologies and disciplines. You will have so much more to draw from when it comes to embarking on your own creative path."
What do you wish you would have known earlier in your career?
"If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to be very choosey about what you work on regardless of how much it pays, because it is at the opportunity cost of doing something that you may love doing more. I find that the projects that you do for love end up propelling you further in the end. I’d also tell myself to relax, slow down and take time to really enjoy the amazing journey that a creative life has to offer."
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
"These are some things that I have learned over the years that I think are important enough to pass on: Never back down from a challenge or be afraid to try. Trust in your instincts, as they are at the heart and soul of who you are. Take the high road in all that you do, as Karma always seems to find its way back to you, and lastly, use your talents and gifts in a way that uplifts and inspires others."
At this stage in your career, what is your dream project?
"I am actually working on it! It is a fantasy-based, visual novel that has prose, poetry and art. It will feature my mixed-media paintings, design work and writing all in one! I am also working on some merchandising and licensing endeavors that are related to the property. Stay tuned!"
What’s the one thing that your students will take away from your workshop?
"The thing that I love about working in experimental, mixed-media is that every day opens my eyes to something new and exciting. I’m passionate about what I do and hope to share that energy for exploration with others. For artists that are interested in learning how to add that element of magic and surprise to their work, I will demonstrate innovative mixed-media techniques to create intriguing effects. Employing alternative working surfaces, using custom tools, toning the painting surface in imaginative ways, creating a tactile ground, building the visual architecture and working in relief are just some of the approaches to be explored. Artists attending the workshop will be filled with new approaches that they can take back to their studios, seeing how these alternative, mixed-media techniques can be infused into their work in imaginative ways!"
Cyr’s best-selling mixed -media books, Experimental Painting and Art Revolution, will be available for sale and signing.
Experimental Painting is available on Amazon here.