Studio Visit: Lora Jost
For the first studio tour of 2009, I visited the workspace of artist and illustrator, Lora Jost. I first met Lora when we worked together on a poster for the River City Reading Festival and I was so amazed by her illustration that I asked if I could visit her studio to see her workspace and more of her beautiful art. Lora uses several unique techniques in creating her work including scratchboard, ceramic mosaic, and collage. Her pieces draw from personal experiences and collected stories which are depicted with elements of beauty, whimsy, darkness, and joy. From her artist statement:
“I am drawn to experiences that are mundane, whimsical, and socially urgent. I like to mix these themes, and find how they link in spirit. I hope that viewers will identify with the stories my pictures tell. I hope that my art, in some small way, deepens our collective appreciation and compassion for each other and for life itself.”
Before moving to the studio, I wanted to show some of Lora’s artwork first. These black and white pieces were all done using scratchboard which is incredible to me! It is a very time intensive process, but Lora is able to etch extremely fine lines into the surface that create wonderful texture and a wide tonal range. I think these are fun to look at from a distance, but also very close up to appreciate the intricate detail of each line.
I asked Lora to show a little bit of her process on creating these. They generally start out as a pencil sketch before moving on to the scratchboard.
Using a variety of sharp instruments, she slowly scratches away the dark surface to reveal the white board underneath. It takes a very steady hand and a lot of patience to carve out the final image.
Some of Lora’s art is more child/family oriented and inspired by her experiences as a mother.
Her son has gone through some phases of art making as well and there are stacks of his drawings which were a lot of fun to see.
Lora has done a number of commissions and one that many people in Lawrence may have seen was for the KU Endowment Association. I love the colors in this piece! You can see the original art on the right and the printed version on the left.
The endowment piece shows a mixture of the scratchboard work and also some collaged elements which is another medium that she frequently uses.
This piece is a combination of paint, photography and thread. There are a lot of layers in her work and I like the effect of transparency that she uses.
A detail of the previous photo . . .
. . . and another. Although not necessarily a theme throughout all of her work, elements from nature and organic shapes and lines often appear in her pieces.
I also really enjoy her use of hand written type to help convey the story within the work.
This new piece was one of the highlights of a recent exhibit at the Lawrence Percolator gallery. Lora told me that she wasn’t sure if people would actually read the text or not, but it turns out that most people took the time and I encourage you to as well since it’s beautifully written.
This work is based on another personal story involving a police helicopter that hovered over her neighborhood one night.
In her studio, Lora has a great wall space for hanging her artwork. Although each piece tells an individual story, it’s neat to step back and see a large group of it all together.
She has an amazing art studio that was built as a second floor addition to her home. The windows and gallery lighting make it a bright workspace that welcomes creativity.
Lots of room for reference material and an office.
I always enjoy seeing the inspiration on studio walls.
The variety of materials that Lora has at her disposal is amazing and she has found very creative ways to put them to use.
She has also created a number of mosaics using broken ceramic pieces. Most of the bits come from dishware and mugs found at garage sales and thrift stores which give her a huge range of colors to work with. What a great way to reuse discarded and unwanted items!
After roughly sketching out the image on board, the tiles are glued into place one piece at a time until the final piece is completed.
The results are beautiful! Again, these works are fun to look at from a distance, but also up close where you can see the individual textures and patterns in each tile.
A huge thanks to Lora for inviting me over to look at her studio. I had a great time! You can see more of her artwork on her website at www.lorajost.org and also over at the Lawrence Arts Center. In addition to her artwork, Lora is also an educator and writer so be sure and check out the book Kansas Murals: A Traveler’s Guide, a book that she co-authored with muralist Dave Loewenstein (available on amazon.com).