The creative process cracks both artist and viewer open, filling each with a resonance of awe. When I discover impact, my first instinct is to share, to recommend it to others. The breathtaking gourd art of Barbara Lewis is one of those experiences. I talked with her about creativity.
Gourd Figure Photo: An original Barbara Lewis design, this figure is made entirely out of gourds-shield, hair, and head are all various size gourds. The figure is wood burned and painted with carved lines. Then, leather & turquoise embellishments are added.
ME: What does creativity mean to you and how has it caused your art to evolve?
Creativity to me is about my mind always working to combine thoughts, ideas, colors, and feelings of infinite possibilities into creations both pleasing to me and hopefully to others. This is a process that happens at anytime. My mind is always processing ideas, observing my surroundings for new designs and coming up with better design ideas along with changes to things that are works in progress. Art was always a part of my life (almost a calling) and I feel I am blessed with this talent and must share it with others. I was in specialized art programs throughout grade school, studied art throughout my university years, and expanded and experimented with different medias from then on. Gourds have now become my focus as I love the 3 dimensional aspect, the use of colors, and adding texture.
ME: How do you feel when you’re in your creative space and what does that feeling contribute to your end result?
My creative space is very special to me. It is my alone time with no distractions as I need peace to really let my thoughts flow. Each line, design, and color must be perfect. Unity and flowing designs are what (I think) makes my work appealing to others. I feel an obligation to do the very best that I can. Time becomes lost as I concentrate on all the details so that the end result will be eye catching and appealing.
ME: Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?
I enjoy and appreciate all kinds of art. I think we all can take something away from the talents of fellow artists although I want my work to be unique and recognizable as my own. This is important to me. I may see a color combination in another work of art that is interesting to me and something I may want to explore but beyond that, I try to design only from my own thoughts and feelings.
Purple Haze Gourd Mask Photo: This Barbara Lewis original features wood burned onto gourd, colored with heat set gourd ink dyes and acrylic paints and embellished with a Southwestern Concho, leather, and turquoise.
ME: As an artist, are there doubts and struggles you face? Give me an example of courage in facing them.
As for doubts, I always have them. Could I have done this design differently, would less instead of more have been better, could a different color have changed the finished work? But in the end it all seems to somehow come together. It may not be exactly what I was thinking when I started but oftentimes ends up being better than my original idea.
ME: How has your art changed your perception of the world and how the world sees you?
I think art has helped me in that I can close out the world for while. We all find ourselves in such worldwide distress at this time and although art hasn’t changed my perception of the world, it has allowed me to find peace and a bit of an escape from it. When enjoying art, we can let go for awhile and enjoy some semblance of peace amid the hostility and unrest we find ourselves in. Art is soothing to our senses and gives our minds something to explore and enjoy.
ME: What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?
When I create gourd art I alway hope it will bring a smile to people and that they will see the fun I’ve had in creating each piece. The impact that I would like to bring to anyone is simply for them to enjoy, study, and realize that a lot of love and planning went into each work.
See Gourd Artist Barbara Lewis
See Barbara’s gourds and talk with her at the 15th annual Sandia Heights Studio Tour, September 15-16, 2018. Barbara joins me and Lynda Burch in Lynda’s home studio.