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Artist Laurie Lipton interviewed about her drawings and favorite books – Page 2

Laurie Lipton talks about pencils, paper and teaching yourself to draw...

READERSVOICE.COM: Do you employ any specific technique to achieve the smoothness and photographic quality of your images?

LAURIE LIPTON: We used to go on family outings to a wonderful museum in upstate New York called “The Cloisters”. I was astounded by the religious paintings from Flanders and couldn´t get over the amazing details. I longed to be able to paint like that.
No one could teach me. Even though I was accepted into one of the best art schools around, conceptual art reigned and it was cosidered ridiculous to want to paint figuratively, let alone in the style of a 17th century Dutchman.
I tried to teach myself but failed. Then I developed a drawing technique that used the cross-hatching method of egg-tempera, building up tone with thousands of lines. It´s insane and tedious, but gives each drawing beautifully varied tonality and detail.

RV: Given the meticulous and time consuming nature of you work, is the surface of your paper smooth or does it have tooth to some degree?

LL: Paper texture varies according to the subject matter and size of each drawing.

In a large picture with a simple image, like “Love Bite”, I use a highly textured paper. Something small and very detailed requires a smoother surface.

RV: With the nature of graphite and observing the sharp and crisp lines, the subtlety of tones between light skin and dark solid shadow, do you use special pencils and/or have you developed a special method to achieve this fine look?

LL: I use a permanent point refillable pencil. I only use 2H, H, HB, B, and 2B leads. Recently I´ve added charcoal pencils to my repertoire to get a chunkier line and blacker blacks.

RV: I read in an interview how you were interested in egg tempera. Did you ever get around to exploring this medium? Judging by your drawings you ought to be able to create some beautiful images with this.

LL: I was contacted by a woman who taught the egg-tempera painting technique used by Jan Van Eyck, my favorite painter. I got very excited and ran out and spent a fortune on brushes and paints. I found it too tedious, though, even for me! I also found that the technique renders the subject matter too stiff and passionless for my current taste.

RV: Could you recommend any art related books for people learning how to draw, or for more accomplished drawers?

LL: I am self-taught and have never read a book on or about drawing. My recommendation would be to draw still-lives and self-portraits – hundreds of them – in order to train your eye to “see”. How does an object sit in space, what defines its form?
How do you handle the universe of a blank piece of paper?
How can you combine the workings of your eye, mind and hand to express something on that blank page?
These things take a tremendous amount of time, effort, patience and, above all, desire.

-To see Laurie Lipton’s drawings visit
Some of these signed prints are still for sale.

copyright Simon Sandall.