Lorrie Boydston is an American painter from the Midwest based in Kansas City, Missouri. She specializes in suburban theme artworks ranging from representational scenes of suburban landscapes and architecture to abstract, mixed-media works. Her artwork has been exhibited locally and nationally, in addition to a variety of publications where her artwork has been featured.
Introduce yourself and talk about the work on view.
My name is Lorrie Boydston. I am an artist based in Kansas City, MO. My exhibit at the Oak Park Library Branch in Spring of 2022 is a body of work that I have recently developed over the last 2 years. It includes mixed-media paintings on repurposed book covers and works on paper.
Describe your creative process.
My creative process involves direct observation from my time spent in in the physical spaces of suburban neighborhoods. My practice at times includes gathering found objects to use in my mixed media works. These could be anything from metal hardware parts left to rust from construction sites or fragments of toys left behind by children at play. I usually start my works on paper by creating a loose grid based on the found objects or intuitively place the objects into drawings and paintings already started. The use of the grid in my works on paper is a reference to the imposed, underlying structure of suburban communities and the conformity of the redundant architecture. The objects sometimes influence the size and style of the grid, other times the grid is simply a meditative way of finding solace and peace amidst the stress of daily life. The house motif appears in many of my paintings as a way to suggest the idea of “cookie cutter” houses – all the same house and neatly conforming within the grid.
This exhibit also includes some of my Book Cover Series, which are abstract references to Doors and Windows of homes. These are repurposed book covers gathered from discard piles at suburban school libraries where I’ve worked. The found objects included with these create a direct, concrete connection to the environment, both natural and man-made. Every home has a story, the book covers attempt to suggest these stories.
What themes do you pursue?
The inspiration for my work comes from my immediate surroundings, exploring ideas of suburban life and architecture. I began my study of suburban themes back in the early 2000’s, at first drawing and painting figures of women and children at play and various man-made items found in the artificial suburban landscape setting. Yet I soon began to crop out and eventually eliminate the figures altogether as I became more interested in the manicured lawns and repetitive formal qualities of the houses. A few years later, I found myself creating abstract works based on the same formal qualities of the architecture, yet the spiritual search for meaning, belonging and our impact on the environment still remain a continuous theme in all my work. The redundancies and imposed structure of suburban life and architecture can be both comforting and disturbing at times.
What do you feel is your role as an artist?
My approach to the subject of suburban life is rather optimistic but it naturally has some political and social issues that arise as I explore and interpret it in my own way. I feel every artist has a responsibility to our current society to raise awareness and share our gift of insight and understanding with our viewers. Art is a fluid product of our time and place, I am inspired by the world around me and have the ability to share my interpretation of it by creating something new that no one has ever seen.
What is your most important artistic tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My most important artistic tool is my sketchbook or visual journal. I use this tool to think, plan and reflect with every visual work I create. Writing is a way to help me focus my practice and make sense of the many ideas that cross my brain every day. I love a larger format sketchbook with no lines – good paper so that if I get the urge to use watercolor, ink or paint, the pages can hold up. Many great little works on paper have come right from the pages of my sketchbook. I have kept most every sketchbook throughout my entire artistic career — they are too valuable to give up. I am worried I will lose a good idea that I may need down the road if I throw it away. My iphone camera is also an important tool, especially these days with visual photo journaling, documenting and sharing my work on social media.
Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that currently inspire you.
I am inspired by music every day as I work, write and look for new ideas to explore. I listen to classical piano and cello quite a bit but will turn to other genres, some more upbeat as I am painting in my studio. Some books I have read recently that inspire me are Ninth Street Women by Muriel Gabriel, Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman and The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. I think every artist probably has some sort of Artist’s business/marketing guide in their studio – I am currently working through the Work of Art which is business skills for artists published by the Springboard for the Arts Organization based in Minnesota. I also have a well-worn copy of the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is a terrific tool for helping get through creative blocks and those dreaded days of slow productivity that we all encounter from time to time. In general, I love poetry, biographies, historical fiction or the occasional spiritual enlightenment self-help book.