“Art has been, and will always be, a reflection of our existence. It captures the truth of our current situation while also reminding us of our past and giving us hope for the future.”
Lauren Anderson is an oil painter currently based in Denver, Colorado. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1992) and growing up just a couple hours northeast in Columbus. Anderson knew very early on that she was meant to be an artist. Her family was musically and artistically involved, so growing up she spent many hours drawing, practicing instruments, and participating in various arts-related extracurriculars. Anderson had a normal and very well-rounded childhood; she did well in school, participated in various sports, joined almost every band and choir opportunity school offered, and was active in her church community. Anderson went on to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
In the summer of 2013, Anderson spent five life-changing weeks in Civita Castellana, Italy, as part of the Jerusalem Studio School’s landscape painting masterclass with Israel Hershberg. This experience was pivotal to her early development as an artist and its impact has been continuous. It brought to life the importance of looking, seeing, studying, and an overall attitude of humble learning and searching.
Graduating in 2014 with a BFA in painting, she moved across the country to Denver where she began working for the Art Students League of Denver (ASLD). Over the next four years, she became part of the artist community, took classes, and wore many hats as an ASLD employee. During that time, in 2015, she was awarded an emerging artist grant by the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, and another by The Allied Arts, Inc. With the support of these two generous organizations, Anderson was able to dedicate more time to painting, which truly kick-started her career as a painter, and ultimately join assemblage artist Mark Friday in a two-person exhibit in 2017.
Most recently, she was awarded an artist residency and the Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Painting Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, where she was excited and honored to spend four weeks in April of 2020.
When contemplating Anderson’s art, at a first glance, one sees a soothing simplicity. But as our eyes focus on the whole, there is a sweet welcoming to what really lies beneath it all. An invitation to look past the subtle reality and immerse oneself into a world of secrets. Anderson’s art offers us a combination of elements that somehow allows us to intertwine a past, a present and a future…All resulting in that one still moment before our eyes.
“When I am creating, I feel whole; I feel like I am doing exactly what I was always intended to do.”
Q. What role does the Artist/Painter have in society?
A. It really depends on the artist and their purpose for creating art. I think my role as an artist/painter is to share the simple beauty found in truth and balance - to bring a moment of quiet when the world around us is overwhelming and polarized.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. I don’t have a specific favorite memory, but my fondest childhood memories come from our family gatherings. I have 12 first-cousins; we’re all pretty close in age and we grew up getting to see each other at least once a year. Suffice it to say, we are a close-knit extended family.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. As early as I can remember, I have always wanted to be an artist!
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I don’t remember the very first...but I do remember some of the first pieces that made me feel proud. The first pastel piece I made was for a high school project and was probably what made me want to get into painting. I loved the immediacy, mark, and color capacity of pastels.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. It wasn’t until high school that art began to take precedence; in my sophomore year literature class, we read My Name is Asher Lev, a novel by Chaim Potok about a young Jewish boy who was gifted in drawing and painting. The book follows his journey navigating the tensions between family, religion, and art. It inspired me and marked a shift from art as something I enjoyed, to being something I wanted to do seriously for the rest of my life, and I never looked back.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. I have always worked representationally, but I gained a new understanding of painting what I see and experience when I went to Italy in 2013. For the first time, I started to understand how much more than copying and imitating painting from observation could be. Those lessons of composition, color relationships, “less is more,” and the beauty found in simplification continue to echo in my mind as I paint.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. Through examining what motivates me to paint and why, I am discovering that my paintings are about balance through portraying quirkiness within ordinary life. A reflection of my aesthetic sensibilities, my work constructs relationships between movement and stillness, subtle and bright colors, and objects in space. I also explore the contrast of past and present. Sometimes this includes a direct relation to the work of historical masters, and sometimes it presents itself in a juxtaposition of my personal experiences, inspirations, and memories, and my current physical place in the world.
In the midst of life’s chaos, my paintings explore and aim to share the simple story of our humanity within a quietly captured moment. As I look inward in an attempt to better understand the core of why I paint, my work has become a space to explore that very question; as if I am constructing my own safe haven to support my search for clarity and truth. These intimate moments have a meditative quality and are meant to offer the viewer a similar moment, providing a space where they are able to hear their own thoughts and delight in a beautiful moment of solitude and reflection.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I like to get stuff done, and I like to get it done efficiently. A lot of times this is a good thing! But I frequently have to remind myself to slow down, take a breath, and don’t always finish something just for the sake of getting it done and crossing it off my list. As it relates to painting, I have to remind myself to give things enough time to reach their fullest potential, rather than impatiently rushing through the final moments and marks.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. It’s certainly not an easy, nor straight-forward, career path. Of course, I’ve had to sacrifice individual financial stability as my career is still in its beginning stages. On a more internal note, as a person who likes to have a plan, I’ve really had to let go of control. I work hard and set goals, but at the end of the day, I have to just do the best I can and keep moving forward.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I follow a lot of current artists, and that list shifts about every 6 months or so. Right now, I frequently look at the work of Emil Robinson, Daniel Granitto, Adrienne Stein, Susan Jane Walp. I also consistently come back to the work of Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko, and Pablo Picasso’s earlier work. There are so many amazing painters out there, I feel inspired by someone new almost daily!
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. It certainly can be, especially if your other work experiences have regularly consisted of interacting and working with other people. Transitioning this year from working for the Art Students League of Denver where I was part of a team, to working from home, alone for the work day, and with no one to talk to but the dogs, has been difficult! I’ve learned that while I don’t mind working from home, I do need some human interaction each week, and I’ve had to find new outlets for that. One of my outlets is volunteering once a week at the hospital not far from where I live. When I started doing this, I had no idea what an important part of my week it would become. It also makes a difference to be doing something that “gives back” and is directly helping other people, it really fills my soul.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. Being outside - whether its walking the dogs, cycling, doing yard work/gardening or just enjoying a meal.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I’m not sure...At this point in my life and career, I’m trying to stay open-minded and just learn as much as I can.
Q. What does ''success'' mean to you?
A. Success for me is two-fold; creating works that are successful and also being successful from a career viewpoint. I want my work to be meaningful and technically excellent, but I would be remiss to say I didn’t also want recognition, representation, and of course to have a financially lucrative business as an “art-repreneur.”
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Everyone has their own path, don’t waste your time wishing yours looked like someone else’s.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. - Talent isn’t everything, there’s always something more to learn.
- This was a hard but important lesson that Israel Hershberg taught me while in Italy with the Jerusalem Studio School.
- Rejection is part of every artist’s journey and it makes us stronger. Don’t let it be the final word.
I’ve been given this advice in many different ways, by many different people, and it’s still helpful every single time. We can’t take rejection personally, and we just have to keep trying and having the courage to put ourselves out there. It’s also helpful to treat rejection as an opportunity to learn something.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. If you’re still in school, take some business classes, or maybe even get a business minor. Whether we like it or not, when we sign up to be an artist, we are also signing up to be businessmen and women; to be entrepreneurs. It’s possible, of course, to figure it all out as you go, but I feel it would have been really advantageous to have proactively given myself an understanding of the basics.