New American Paintings/Blog

In the Studio: Process of a Painting with Laura Lark by New American Paintings

Laura Lark (NAP #102) has been making pointillist portraits and video installations for the past decade.  Painstakingly detailed and almost obsessive in artistic process and dot application (similar in methodology but even more precise than someone like Bonard Hughins), her portraits result in a delicate and even nostalgic aesthetic that walks a fine line; the softness of the images is almost undermined by the painstaking efforts it takes Lark to complete them.  Seeing the miniscule details and knowing the time and potential agony involved in creating such works opens a window to viewers and makes the work far more complex than the surface of a portrait.

1. installation
Installation view of Simulacra, Gaddis Geeslin Gallery, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX. Ted Kincaid | Laura Lark | Shawn Smith, Curated by Michael Henderson, October 3 – 27, 2011.

Her work evokes mixed emotions: I found myself feeling sensitivity towards those portrayed, while also feeling a foreboding sense of anxiety as I contemplated the familiarity of the subject’s face and wondered why/how/and if I knew them, even though I knew I didn’t… Here, Lark’s end product, is not the portrait itself, but the video that captures both her process and the passage of time.  In documenting her creation of and reflection upon ephemera, there is something of a meta-narrative running through her work that speaks not just to time, but to memory, fleetingness, and permanence all at once. – Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

2. aura still1
Laura Lark, Aura.  Video still 1.

In this Process of a Painting, we follow Lark through her video Aura and a number of the video’s stills that help to animate and visualize her process.  Besides the meticulous detail and dedication needed to compose each massive work dot-by-single-dot, Lark intensified the already-time-consuming process by taking one photo for every ten dots she made.

Laura Lark, Aura.  The woman “appearing” in the video is Ann-margret, an icon of the period Lark likes to address, and the music, equally relevant for the period subject matter, is Henry Mancini’s “Lujon.”

In her own words, Lark discusses her video as a monument to time and memory:

Laura Lark: The work–all of it, each and every component of every installation is about time – the passage of time.  But the video is “bigger” in certain ways, as it alludes to the original pop cultural references of a time that has passed: what’s handed down, genetically and psychologically, and how, in trying to reproduce the elements of the era that resonate with me psychologically, it also documents and emphasizes the passing of time elapsing during the actual time of executing the work and attempting to replay a particular moment or memory in an effort to explore identity and memory.

4. aura still2
Laura Lark, Aura.  Video still 2.
5. aura still3
Laura Lark, Aura.  Video still 3.

 Laura Lark is a visual artist and writer living in Houston, TX.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor.


18 Comments so far
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Reblogged this on malthun.

Comment by malthun

to make a pretty picture, start with a pretty girl…..updated version of cowboy art that seemed to always start with a portrait of a craggy faced native american.

Comment by marcarch

The portraits are mesmerizing to look at, how they appear as a normal portrait from afar but up close you see the painstaking process that took place.

Comment by Krista Pederson

I like how extremely detailed the paintings are. In photographs, people’ skin seems to look flawless and smooth, but in these paintings all the rugged details are shown.

Comment by blk68

It is cool to see the base outline laid out and then to have the artist come back and shade with more dots to add details and give distinctions or facial features. The whole timeline video is cool to watch as well

Comment by Matt ross

I am very respectful of artists, such as Lark for having incridible patience. It is definitely a great trait to have as an artist.

Comment by Jackson GIbbs

Fascinating video. I found it particularly interesting to see the process shading, and how Lark used both color and the concentration of dots to create different values. It was not something that struck me just looking at the pictures on their own, but it really stood out to me in the video.

Comment by Allaire Conte

The piece in the video is absolutely beautiful. The red is a great color choice, I enjoy how the shading occurs because there is no sketch underneath to guide her. Very interesting process. And brilliant pieces, all are still so life-life.

Comment by Mervine Nelson

I can’t imagine being able to do this. Not only to be able to work on one image for so long and so painstakingly, but to possess the skill to execute it at all. It’s amazing how she can do these dots and strokes in the perfect place to make an amazing image without even so much as a sketch. I don’t think I would ever be able to do that.

Comment by Haley

this is so incredible! It must have taken a lot of time and effort and especially patients. I give the artist so much credit for how good and detailed the picture is and they even got the shading

Comment by Makenna

I really love this style. The dots seem to make more sense than smooth lines and shapes sometimes, simply because we’re not flawless. The amount of time required is definitely worth the result.

Comment by Ally Orr

I remember having to do stipple drawings in Drawing 1, but nothing like this. It’s really visually compelling and is made more interesting when you know that up close it’s really just a bunch of dots.

Comment by Zak Kane

This is crazy! I appreciate all of the work and time that went into these pieces because we had to shade a few drawings with stipling in drawing 1

Comment by Caitlin Hutchinson

I can’t believe how much time she is willing to invest in just pointillism itself. It’s a long and tedious process, and the fact that the installations are so large makes it that much more amazing.

Comment by Skyler Heck

I really enjoy the art of making up a realistic picture using dots of shading to show value. The woman looked so realistic from far away then up close she still had the drastic features, but we were able to see the details of the dots throughout and how she was made up.

Comment by Robin

I love the scale that she worked with. There is also something truly beautiful about works that have observable complexity up close but from a distance offer something different.

Comment by Tristin Vaughn

I love how the shading occurs. It is very intresting process,I would love to learn this style. The whole video is cool to watch.

Comment by Manali patel

The detail in these pieces are incredibly well thought out and the scale she was working with is incredible!

Comment by Nattie Wons

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