Please note: portions of this interview have been previously published as part of an All Dolls Are Art Interview in 2011 and 2012.
I met Lisa Renner at an art doll retreat in New Mexico long enough ago that I can’t remember when it was! But, once I got to know Lisa better, I realized I had seen her work published in a number of mixed media books. She’s a prolific and talented artist in many media, but I know her best through her work in Polymer Clay. Lisa is teaching two classes at Art-Xscape 2014: Polymer Clay 2 Ways and Beautifully Exposed. More information about Lisa is available on her website. Her class information is available on her Art-Xscape page.
Lisa has been published most recently, along with Art-Xscape faculty member Stephanie Rubiano, in “iNCiTE Dreams Realized, The Best of Mixed Media” edited by Tonia Jenny. It’s available from Amazon.
Lisa’s other publishing credits include “The Art of Paper Collage” by Susan Pickering Rothamel, “True Colors” published by Stampington, “Stampartistry” by Rice Freeman-Zachary, “The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery” by Karen Michel, and several books by Lynne Perrella, yet another Art-Xscape faculty member, including “Art Making: Collections and Obsessions” and “Collaborative Art Journals and Shared Visions in Mixed Media”. Additionally, Lisa has has worked published in Somerset Studio Magazine, Legacy Magazine, Belle Armoire, Art Doll Quarterly, and Polymer Café.
AnLiNa Designs: Hi Lisa! Please tell me how you got started in your artistic adventures. Did you take art classes as a child or in college?
Lisa: I did art on my own when I was little and all through high school. I did extra credit in school by drawing. I did a report my Junior year on old cowboys. As extra credit for that report, I drew pictures of those cowboys, 5 of them from a book. I did all 5 of them one night on notebook paper and turned it in and got an excellent grade! I did game projects, making my brothers puzzle books, with connect the dots and puzzles, and put them together to keep my brothers busy in the summer. I was always making something artistic, but I didn’t take any art classes. I don’t why I didn’t because I loved art. I did start taking classes as an adult when I had more free time and decided what I really loved. I made bread dough ornaments to sell when I was in my 20’s. So that’s how I started doing little 3-d things. I did take classical guitar lessons for a year in college. I got really good, being able to sight-read and loved it, but didn’t have time to do it then. I still say I will pick it up one day.
AnLiNa Designs: You manage to produce a lot of work given that you also work full time, so tell me a bit about your schedule and how you stay so organized.
Lisa: When I have a deadline looming, I focus on that project to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t work on Friday for my day job, so I’ll literally start first thing Friday morning and will work straight through the weekend. I have a truly supportive husband who is very respectful of my time and what I’d like to do. He’s very self-sufficient and does what he needs to do, and lets me do what I need to do. I do have my Mom over every two weeks or so and try to work that out ahead of time so I can work my projects out and focus on my Mom when she’s here. It makes a big difference having that 3-day weekend. I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, because I’m a morning person, and get so much accomplished in the quiet of the early morning that it’s not so important that I don’t get much done in the evening.
AnLiNa Designs: Tell me a bit about the various projects you’ve worked on.
Lisa: I do projects with Lynne (Lynne Perrella). I’ve done a round robin with her and Pamela (Gypsy Pamela) called Figuratively Speaking where we made Santos Dolls (editor: Lisa gave a wonderful presentation on Santos Dolls that were created as part of this swap at All Dolls Are Art 2012.). I love doing these swaps because they are very interesting. I’ve also done a Tarot card deck swap with Red Dog Scott. My card was the Magician.
AnLiNa Designs: Who is Red Dog Scott?
Lisa: She hosted the Capalon swap for several years. Red did this Capalon swap based on Nick Bantock’s Sabine and Griffin. You make something and mail it to Red. If you make 10, you’d get 10 things back. She’s done these themed card deck swaps. I’ve got 10 or more decks of cards. They’re little pieces of art that are so cool!
AnLiNa Designs: How do you get involved in these?
Lisa: Red has a master list of people who’ve been doing these things forever and ever. Even when I can’t participate, I always tell her to keep me on her list because I just love participating!
For the Tarot Deck, it was a Steam punk theme. She sent out a mass email and people signed up. Generally, if there’s a specific card you want, you ask and first come first served. If you don’t ask for a card she’ll assign you one. I mount my decks, sometimes in a book format. I’ve always loved these decks. I get a whole list of specs and the number of copies I need to make. You make one original and then make quality copies, Red swaps them all and you get back a whole deck. Some people laminate them. I usually mount them on card stock and put a decorative backing on them unless I bind them.
I love paper arts and book arts. One of the classes I’ll be teaching at Art-Xscape is a book binding class where you take a bunch of painter papers and leather binding. I love painting. I enjoy teaching. I spend a lot of time coming up with classes and class designs. If I see something really cool, I figure out how to make something a class. If I am going to make it a class, before I announce it, I make sure I can get 20 of whatever components I think I will need. I can’t work on something randomly. “Can you teach on such and such?” “No, I need to know exactly what I’m doing to teach and will have everything I will need”. I like to be very prepared. I’m a very prepared person. I like to go in the classroom the night before and set up so I’m not rushed to setup before classes. I do not want there to be chaos for the students. I can feel chaotic inside, but the students shouldn’t see that because they are paying money for their workshop. They should come in and learn, get a project and a hand-out and a good feeling they can go home and duplicate what they made. They can go home and feel happy and not stressed or worried.
AnLiNa Designs: Where do you find inspiration?
Lisa: I get my ideas from all around me: imagery in movies, pictures in magazines, on walks finding things on the ground, from dreams. Since I have more ideas than time, I try to sketch them in a book so I can remember them.
AnLiNa Designs: How many projects do you work on at once?
Lisa: I usually have several projects going at one time: When I am preparing for workshops, my free time is more limited so I try and make the best of it. The easiest way for me to work is to set aside the time, get out more materials and supplies than I think I could possibly need, and just start playing. If I have a plethora of materials in front of me, then inspiration usually follows.
AnLiNa Designs: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Lisa: The part of teaching I enjoy the most is the sharing between teacher and student. It is such a pleasure to me, for students take information received in class and put their own originality into it, ultimately coming out with something they are proud of. I am constantly in awe of the process, and feel privileged to be able to learn as much from them as they learn from me.