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Lola Rose Thompson | Intermix



October 2014
Westlake, CA

Lola Rose Thompson designed an exclusive tote for the Intermix opening in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Images and below interview courtesy of Intermix

Your watercolor technique is really interesting. What’s your process?

Painting with watercolor is unpredictable. Even the most skilled painters can’t totally control the way the color bleeds into the water. You have to relinquish control to some degree, and I love being surprised by the way the paint moves as you add water. I’m basically a self taught painter. Although I studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I never took a painting class, so I’ve never learned the “right way” to paint. I think is an advantage sometimes. It allows me to experiment, make mistakes and be playful.

My actual technique is always changing. Sometimes I use lots and lots of water and really let the pigment go where it wants to go. In other paintings I exert more control, let layers dry completely before painting over them and generally use less water. The thing most people don’t realize about watercolors is how important the water is. I often paint the entire painting using only water, and then just add a little bit of paint to an edge and let it travel where it wants to.

Literary devices go hand in hand with your work. How did you first become interested in thinking more about words and art together?

If I weren’t an artist, I would probably be a writer. Both my parents are writers. In high school I was the editor of our literary magazine, and in college I took many creative writing classes. It was inevitable that my writing would become a part of my art practice. Apart from painting, reading is probably my favorite thing to do. There’s almost nothing I love more than getting lost in a book. When I really love what I am reading, I can’t leave the house; I’ll bring the book with me into the bathroom and stay up all night trying to finish it.

Do you have any favorite subjects?

I’ve always loved learning about history, reading about ancient societies from Sumerians to Ancient Greece and China to 18th century Russia. Reading is like opening a vortex into the past. Recently I’ve been re-reading the classics—Dickens, Austen, Tolstoy, Hardy. George Eliot is one of my favorite writers; I’ve made paintings with titles that refer to her books. I’ve also made paintings based on various characters from Tolstoy’s most famous works, like Anna Karenina andWar and Peace.
When I was a kid, my Mum used to make me read the New York Times out loud at the breakfast table. I hated it then, but now I realize how much it shaped my interests. I still love reading the actual hard-copy newspaper, and my titles are often inspired by current events, headlines, and political figures. I love combining ideas that seem disparate, like glitter and dictators, naked girls and the Analects of Confucius.

How are you inspired by your surroundings?

L.A. is such an inspiring place to live and work. Everyone I know is creative and ambitious and it’s great to be surrounded by that kind of energy. I go to my studio in Chinatown every day to work, but I also always have paper and watercolors in the back of my car. I’ve been known to pull them out at a big party, a dinner party, even at an art opening. It’s nice to be able to sit down and work anywhere. 

Which artists do you admire most?

It’s hard to know where to start. I adore the watercolors of Francisco Clemente and Marlene Dumas. David Hockney is also one of my favorite painters. I think Tracy Emin is a fantastic artist and I admire her ability to be so honest and vulnerable in her work. Olafur Elliasson is a Danish artist who makes incredible sculptures and installations using elemental materials like light, water, air and temperature to create a totally unique experience for the viewer. His work is hard to explain if you’ve never seen it in person, but suffice it to say that I’ve wept while standing in front of one of his works, which I think is one of the best reactions to art one can have. Another artist I admire is Pierre Huyghe. I saw a big retrospective of his work at the Pompidou in Paris last year, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. His work is smart, funny, strange and totally brilliant. In one work he made a Brancusi head into a shell for a hermit crab to live in, so the piece is this big terrarium, filled with hermit crabs swimming and scuttling around with beautiful bronze heads for shells. In another piece he made a concrete sculpture of a reclining woman and turned her head into a bee hive, so thousands of bees fly and hover where here head should be. It’s pretty special.