Conversation with Lisa Call, USA

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My passion is creating abstract contemporary textile paintings.
My award winning artwork, composed of my richly colored hand dyed fabric, is exhibited internationally and included in numerous private and public collections.
My two newest ventures are teaching art workshops and creating MakeBigArt, a website devoted to empowering artists to think big about their art, their marketing and their lives.
Week days you’ll find me in my cubicle at Oracle, wearing my software engineer hat, where I am a project manager in the Fusion CRM (customer relationship management) group.
To round out my life, I’m also a single mother to 2 wonderful almost adults and fill my free hours with yoga, hiking, gardening, cooking and reading. <– See my artwork <– Read my thoughts about being an artist
CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKER (CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?
LISA CALL (LC) Yes – I was always making things as a kid. I spent my recesses indoors in the library with my best friend and the box of prisma colour and coloured pencils I stole from my mom. We used to draw elaborate machines. We also made sculptures and functional objects (like a house for hamsters) out of boxes and tins from the garbage can.
And then there was my mom’s favourite – we made “potions” – which meant mixing together random things we would find. We often stored them in the freeze – lucky mom finding them months later!
We were always being creative and making things. I wanted to be an art major in college but my dad, who was footing the bill, told me art is something that is done as a hobby and I needed something more practical. So I have a couple of computer science degrees – which come in really handy when working on my art website.

CWTM What was your first experience with making art?
LC The first thing I remember making was when I was 5 years old – making a paper chain. I asked my best friend (the one I mention in the previous question) if she wanted to link her chain with mine so we’d have the longest one. We were best friends from that day forward. And we had the longest chain.
I also remember sewing creative things for a clubhouse my siblings and I had out in the woods. I’ve been drawn to fabric since early days.

CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?
LC Yes – 5 years ago I bought a sad little house that needed some TLC and did a big remodel – adding a large studio (with 10-12 foot high ceilings) to the back of the house. I love creating in large spaces!

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?
LC I wake up around 5am, mill about with cats and meditation and land at the computer by 6am. I don’t really want to land at the computer but it is situated between my bedroom and my studio and seems to have a very strong magnetic pull.
On good days I resist and by pass the computer for the studio and spend a few hours making before starting the day job. Which is at home, in front of the computer as I manage a software team (my team is spread across the globe from Australia to the UK to India to Singapore and a few locations in the US).
I love that I can work from home but sometimes that day spills into the evening – but that also means I can do some social media during the day and not worry about it interfering with my job.
I do more studio work, the art biz tasks and socializing after work.

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?
LC I’m totally about the process. I think of myself as a student – every piece is made to learn something. Some turn out quite well, some don’t make it much beyond the trash can. But I learn from all of them and that is where the joy and growth come from.
CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?
LC Yep – if I knew what it was going to look like before I finished I would be bored. I loved piecing for this reason. The thing is constantly shrinking and making me rethink my plans as it is hard to gauge exactly what I will end up with when I started.

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?
LC I use few tools – rotary cutter, mat, design wall and sewing machine. That’s about all I need.
CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?
LC I have a plan for the issue I want to address in my work (be it a design problem or a concern about the content of my compositions) but once I have an idea of the problem I want to solve – I then go about solving it in an improvisational way.

CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?
LC This is part of the magic of being an artist – learning not to overwork the design. It is not easy but it is something to become aware of as we are making.
CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….
LC Connection
CWTM Favourite quote?
LC “The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair. ” ~Lousie Bourgeois

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?
LC In the shower!
CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
LC Feeling a sense of growth over time.

CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?
LC Spend some time being a student.
CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?
LC I try to ignore useless advice, or at least find a gem that make me think about my situation differently – even if ultimately I don’t agree.

CWTM Best part of your day?
LC Listening to my daughter laugh and my cats purr.
CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?
LC Brene Brown, Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe
Kevin Costner (in his younger, thinner cuter days – his job will be to smile)
I like small dinner parties J

CWTM You’d be lost without…
LC Google – how did we survive without it.

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
LC Make more art, connect with more friends.

CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?
LC Travel – in 2013 I went to Italy and Thailand. I’m still making plans for 2014 and I’m excited to be coming to Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?
LC I sent my first email in 1983 – computers have always been a part of my life. What I’ve found fascinating is the ability for greater connection (and disconnection) as more of the world jumps online.
I don’t use technology in making my art but I love the ease it provides in the marketing.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
LC Repetition JJJ

CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?
LC Important isn’t the right word but indeed I’m not adverse to some fame. I like knowing my art is enjoyed by others. For me it completes the cycle of making.
I am inspired by the world – I make art – I share it back to the world.

CWTM What is next for you?
LC Dinner and a movie.

Lisa Call USA, will be teaching for Fibre Arts Australia, Fibre Arts Gippsland and Fibre Arts New Zealand in March and April 2015
Click here for all that information.