Painter Jamul finds inspiration in daily life
Although Lisa Bryson has been drawing since college, she didn’t begin to seriously pursue a career in the visual arts until around 2007. Her mother, who is herself an award-winning visual artist, always encouraged Bryson, as a young girl and later as an adult.
“Drawing was a way for me to make friends and try to overcome my shyness, so I started drawing around middle school. My mother always encouraged me to draw and express myself creatively. “, she says. “In high school, my work attracted attention and seemed promising, but it was not until much later in life that I seriously pursued art and finally made my path to painting.”
His mother, Suzanne Salazaralso encouraged Bryson to seek inclusion in the Annual Federal Art Walk of the Mission when she returned to California from Massachusetts in 2018. She was then accepted, and this weekend she is one of the featured artists at the event, sharing side-by-side spaces with her mother during the ArtWalk 2022 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from Beech Streets to Grape and State Street to Kettner Boulevard in the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego.
Bryson, 54, is a studio artist and adjunct instructor at Point Loma Nazarene University. She and Salazar share a studio at the Liberty Station Arts District in Point Loma, and she lives in Jamul and has two adult children and three grandchildren. She took the time to talk about her oil paintings, her experience with the ArtWalk, and finding inspiration in the mundane moments of life.
Q: Why did you want to be part of the ArtWalk?
A: My mother has been part of the ArtWalk for over 10 years and she encouraged me to apply. We’re sharing a studio at the Liberty Station Arts District, as well as side-by-side exhibition spaces this weekend on Cedar Street. It’s great to have the support of family and a shared passion for art. Beyond the family bond, ArtWalk offers a large-scale exhibition and contact with spectators, buyers and collectors. Several of my collectors visit my booth every year. I can’t wait to find and share my new work. The community is also a big part of the event. We meet new artists and meet returning artists. The staff and volunteers also add to the experience.
Q: What attracts you to painting, compared to other art forms?
A: The journey was different for me than for other artists I know, and from the very beginning painting was a challenge with frustration and passion. I love the open time allowed with oil paints, the flexibility and the different methods available with the medium. I bring oil sticks and charcoal into the mix, depending on the intended purpose for the job. I also appreciate the rich history of oil painting and look to artists such as Rembrandt for encouragement; after all, Rembrandt painted 80 known self-portraits and over 300 paintings during his lifetime.
What I love about Jamul and Point Loma…
I live in a quiet neighborhood with space to walk around and give rest to the soul. Another neighborhood that I really enjoy is Point Loma, especially the Liberty Station Arts District, where my shared studio is located. We have an active artistic community that supports and encourages artists, both new and experienced. I look forward to spending time in the studio and interacting with my neighboring artists.
Q: Your website states that your work examines the “state of being”. What does this mean, exactly?
A: We have common understandings – life, death, hope, joy, passion, frustration, vulnerabilities, love – emotional aspects of “being”, but we are also unique and experience changes, changes in our identity. Our systems of interpretation shape who we are and extend into the lives of others. I focus on humanity, lived life as well as the obvious psychological underpinnings of being human, embodied in the myriad layers present in the painting.
Q: If I understand correctly, you also talk about how the manifest and the subtle are constantly at play in what we see visually, and how these layered narratives “redefine the burden of humanity”. What do you see as the burden of humanity?
A: Abstract contemplation is exemplified in my work by the physical act of abstraction and plays a vital role in depicting human form and face, transcending mere representation; the flesh is broken, disturbed by changes in color and mark. The identity, however, is intentionally reassembled and visible. Mark making develops the narrative, creates the story necessary for the work with the past and present unfolding simultaneously, presenting a complex visual dialogue of flesh in paint. The burden of “feeling”, the burden of perceived “weakness” (human frailty, the constant battle to be heard, seen, appreciated) is an essential aspect of my work. We are on a journey that is coming to an end. My intention is to comment, capture and evoke these feelings and experiences, the journey of the known and the unknown, the finite time we have as living beings.
Q: And how does this relationship – between what is manifest and what is subtle – redefine this burden?
A: The interplay of the explicit and the subtle, present in the work, allows me to “write” a story, to develop a narrative “understood” at a certain level. I can shape visual dialogue that expresses, defines and redefines what it is to feel and be. With a palette knife, brush and paint, I can simultaneously hide and unearth meaning. There are times when the work is overt – present and legible – and other times when the meaning is hidden, exposed in fractured layers of paint, where the subtlety resides. The hope is that the work catches more of a glance.
Q: Can you tell us what people can expect to see from your work this weekend?
A: Most of my work is portraits and figurative works, but not in a traditional style. The work presents a contemporary narration as well as a unique approach to technique, to figurative abstraction. The work ranges from very small, intimate pieces to larger works.
Q: What did you want to convey in the selection of pieces for this audience this weekend?
A: The power of paint! A contemporary visual dialogue in painting: The shared and the unique. The palpable presence of paint applied in an evocative manner.
Q: What inspires you in your work?
A: I am inspired by the mundane, the routine of life, the act of observation, being present in the moment. I am also inspired by the art of others. I like to be amazed, amazed and surprised by artists.
Q: What was difficult in your job?
A: The biggest challenge was to operate, control and manipulate the paint without losing the desired image or result. Originally my pieces were small, which made my particular technique possible, but I wanted to move on to larger scale works, so I had to find new tools, larger tools that mimicked the palette knife . I started working with masonry trowels and squeegees. I was able to make marks similar to small works; however, I feel like the size of the artwork provides different experiences. The smaller pieces bring you closer to the work, while the larger ones engulf you and require a step back to be fully appreciated.
Q: What was rewarding about this job?
A: The evolution, process and development of my own technique has been truly rewarding. The set of works in the ArtWalk is a kind of retrospective – works from different series, works during the COVID lockdown and new paintings recently completed. I’m excited to share them this weekend.
Q: What has this job taught you about yourself?
A: Work has shown me that I am tenacious, hardworking and dedicated to my craft.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Be humble and constantly learning, be open to others, but listen to your instincts. Expect to work hard. Make art that matters to you. Don’t follow trends, go your own way.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
A: Which I have been painting for a relatively short time. Oh, and I was an extra on Elizabeth Montgomery’s last TV movie [“Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan”].
Q: Please describe your ideal weekend in San Diego.
A: I grew up in San Diego and experienced great weather year round, visited Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, and Sea World many times, and enjoyed our beautiful city. But, for me, the perfect weekend in San Diego is spent working in the studio with natural light filtering through the space and a wonderful ocean breeze streaming through the windows.