Artist based in Cleveland, Ohio
Lynnea Holland Weiss, Portrait of the Artist, Photo by Dustin Franz
Artist in the Studio
Tell us about yourself, what's your background?
Since I was a small child I think I always knew I’d pursue something within the arts. My mom is a graphic designer, so I grew up drawing a lot from an early age. Also around the age of ten I started dancing and began to pursue it pretty seriously, so that is a major part of my background. I was in a hip hop dance company in Oakland, California and then I went to an arts high school as a dance major where I began to study ballet and modern. All of this then completely translated when I began figurative painting and has such an impact on where my paintings are coming from. Thinking about the body, how it moves and how we observe and interpret body language fascinates me. I fell in love with dance and painting for their ability to use the body to say what can’t be said or felt with words alone. And painting also has the ability to highlight, extend and maintain the viewers engagement with a specific moment. Even with this focus on a single gesture, it has a miraculous way of holding a deep saturation of time as well.
"I’m interested in how it makes us feel to see a body hold the weight of another body. I’ve always been drawn to make images of people holding one another while emphasizing the embrace and emotional exchange of physical touch. This idea simply came from thinking about what support can look and feel like."
What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I currently am working on a series of large paintings that depict people carrying or lifting one another, surrounded by clouds. I’m interested in how it makes us feel to see a body hold the weight of another body. I’ve always been drawn to make images of people holding one another while emphasizing the embrace and emotional exchange of physical touch. This idea simply came from thinking about what support can look and feel like.
Dream Catchers, 2019, acrylic, flashe and oil bar on canvas, 96 x 78 in
Still Waiting, 2019, acrylic, flashe and oil bar on canvas, 20 x 24 in
Touch, To Make Us Whole, 2019, acrylic and flashe on canvas, 64 x 52 in
Around Your Ribs With Patience, 2018, acrylic and flashe on canvas, 84 x 72 in, Installation view from Flood Love Solo Exhibition in 2018 at Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Photo credit © Annik Wetter
Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in an artist's practice. What do you do for inspiration?
For me getting out of my head and into my body is usually essential for gathering inspiration and is such an important part of my process. I take constant dance and stretch breaks in between brush strokes and use it as research for paintings as well. Long walks or simply changing up my physical environment is also always a great way to spark new ways thinking about what I am working on.
Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?
Ideas start both in and out of the studio. I am constantly seeing potential paintings out in the world. I love people watching and being a quiet observer of the body language and interactions happening around me daily. Public transportation, waiting rooms, in museums or parks, or being on the dance floor sweating with strangers is constant fuel for my paintings. Then in the studio, I use my own body as reference for work all the time as well. This research stage involves photographing and drawing from my own body in specific positions or while moving, and sometimes drawing from friend’s bodies as well. I also watch a lot of dance videos, and recently have started drawing from stills as points of reference for paintings too.
How do you make your work? Where do you start and how does the process evolve?
I usually do start with an initial loose sketch of specific body language or a gesture of intrigue. But for me, the actual start of the painting begins very abstract and spontaneous, usually working horizontally allowing paint to pull, puddle and create organic moments. From there, I’ll layer bodies from the initial sketches on top of the stains of color, both reacting to and keeping moments of texture within the figures. The painting is a fully reactionary process from that point on and often takes on new directions as it progresses.
Many artists live by their creative routines, do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?
Honestly I don’t always have such a regular routine. I work in a pretty obsessive manner where my sense of time or a schedule tends to go out the window. At times I work with music, and other times I need and devour the sacredness of silence. I think so much of being painter is also being the viewer as well. Therefore at least half of my time in the studio is spent looking at the works in progress for endless hours. For this reason, I always have multiple pieces in the works at the same time. I like having all modes at my fingertips when entering the studio each day, be it prepping canvases, a piece that’s in a early sketching a composition stage, one that’s right in the middle where it starts really giving me the run around or a piece that I’ve been staring at for weeks trying to know for sure if it is done.
Who are your biggest influences?
There are many, but seeing Alice Neel’s portraits for the first time had such an enormous impact on me and definitely influenced me to pursue figurative painting. Her ability to capture the psychology of the people she painted blew me away. Also being from Berkeley and Oakland, California, I became very interested in the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 50s-60s that included artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Brown, David Park, Elmer Bischoff. This work and group of artists really resonated with me and had a big impact on my love for figurative painting. As far as contemporary painters, Nicole Eisenman is one that I really connect to and am inspired by. I appreciate the way she stylistically incorporates many different approaches within her bodies of work, and often within a single piece. Also the dance company, Batsheva, is another major source of influence of mine.
Are there books or films that are an important source of inspiration?
A book that I often return to as a philosophical source of inspiration is The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. I always love to revisit pages almost at random and dive back into the ideas. Also the dance film, Pina, is absolutely brilliant and so moving. It intertwines a documentary about the choreographer Pina Bausch seamlessly with performances by her company made for film that are incredibly powerful and poetic.
How will Innovate Grant contribute to your practice?
I am truly grateful for this grant! It’s rare as an artist to receive this kind of unrestricted funding that so directly supports your practice. This grant will contribute to material costs and the production of my next body of works.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Many thoughts come to mind, but recently a close loved one told me to remember to celebrate your successes and the small and big victories along the way. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, for it’s actually pretty hard for me to do. I am never fully satisfied. And I think it is in most artists’ nature to be this way, overly ambitious and always searching, pushing and questioning. There’s always a better painting to be made and something more you I am after, but its important come back to the present and respect process. Also appreciating the “failures” as well. It's often a piece that is completely failing, and pushes me in a new direction that could’ve never been planned, that ends up being the most compelling work.
What is the best advice you would give to other artists?
When insecurity or feelings of inadequacy come up, just keep making! Your work will guide you and teach you more than you can imagine.