Lisa Pressman on "Personal Language" in art

• Thursday, August 03, 2017 •

Lisa Pressman and I recently had a conversation about the idea of
“Personal Language” in one’s art. 
Below are questions and answers about this topic.

Lisa Pressman teaching  in Taos, NM

Norma - Your upcoming workshop, September 8 - 10 in Snow Hill, Maryland, is titled “Exploring Personal Language through Mixed Media.” How would you define your personal language?   

Lisa - My visual language has been developing since I was in high school and constantly doodling. Those doodles were boxes in boxes that became structures including doors, windows and portals. These still appear in my work both as marks and as image.

Lisa Pressman

Norma - Is there a point where you began to recognize your own language in your work?  

Lisa - I didn’t really name it for a long while. “Personal language” was not a buzz word when I went to graduate school. Recently, while I was making a power point with all my work, my language became clear. Like learning any language—it takes time, practice and work to be fluent. 

Lisa Pressman

Norma - A three-day workshop is condensed and intensive. What can happen in three days for students in the pursuit of finding their own visual vocabulary? And as the facilitator of this goal, what happens as the days unfold?
Lisa - Three days is short but by placing the emphasis on experimentation, quick exercises and thinking about inspirations, connections happen. The unfolding starts with excitement and fun, sometimes turns into frustration and then the understanding comes: either of the material, or personal image or both.

Norma - You live close enough to NYC that you can frequent galleries and museums and have the opportunity to see lots of great art. Can you name a few artists whose work is important for students to look at especially—as examples of unique personal language? 

Lisa - Anselm Keifer, Brenda Goodman, Amy Sillman, Mark Bradford, William Kendridge, Pat Steir, Vija Celmins, Julie Mehretu are just a few that come to mind.

Anselm Keifer

Norma - After teaching a 3-day workshop, what do you think students will be taking with them back to the studio. Students go home with a different idea of how to move paint and how to think about the painting process.

Lisa - Students go home with a different idea of how to move paint and how to think about the painting process.  I try to stress ideas of freedom, of not rushing a painting, and playfulness. Works done in the workshop often become springboards for a new series!!