Artists who are professionally trained often go through periods of rediscovery after their schooling ends. Without the structure, they’re free to discover what they truly love to create and the processes behind it. That’s exactly what happened to Lisa Warren, a Mobile-born artist.
Lisa is a part of the Central Arts Collective at Central Presbyterian Church; the church fosters the arts community in Mobile by opening its empty rooms to artists for their studios. Her family was a member of this church when she was a child, so she feels right at home when working there. However, she went through a long journey to get to where she is today as an artist and a businesswoman.
“In my early 20s, I went back and forth on what I wanted to do, but it always gravitated back to art.” She moved to Boston and came back after 9/11, since the city changed so much after the attack. While she was at the University of South Alabama for art therapy and psychology, she met her husband.
“I met my husband in school, when I was going for something completely different. I conveyed to him how much I missed art and being creative, and he told me to go for it. I couldn’t be here, honestly, if it wasn’t for my husband,” she said.
Lisa had always been interested in art as a child…drawing in bed at night, always sketching, never sitting still and always drawing. Her family always encouraged her to be expressive and creative. She had always hoped that art could be her career, but it didn’t click and become a serious thing for her until she was older.
Once she had that epitome with her husband, Lisa switched her majors to oil painting and ceramics. After graduating from USA, she worked out of her shed in her backyard. A couple years ago, though, she was approached by Central to rent out a space to use as a studio. Lisa jumped at the chance, moving her art career forward.
I started taking [art] seriously when I got into the studio. It was slowly happening when I was working out of my shed, but it really progressed once I got [to Central], because I started getting in the community and getting my face in front of other peoples’ faces
Lisa is a potter and a painter, although she said pottery is mostly what pays the bills. “I love doing pottery, and it’s definitely my bread and butter. My pottery is very functional…if I see a need, I fill it.”
Her true passion, though, is painting. She does a lot of representation, but has found that she’s gravitating more towards expressive realism.
“While I was in school in Boston, I really enjoyed floral work. In school it was all about learning figures and form, so I got wrapped up in figure drawing for a long time. Once I got my studio, I remembered how much I loved doing floral work, so for a while there I was fixated on flowers. But also because I think they require nothing of me; when I see a face, I invest in that face and in that person and it requires an emotional connection,” she said.
Even after school, she’s still learning more and more about herself and art. She has been working with Ron Barrett doing stage production and event painting, and before she started working with him she worked mainly with oil paints. Oil paintings take time and precision, though, and working with events is very fast-paced. So, she has learned and adapted to using fast-drying acrylics and different painting techniques. “It’s teaching me to let go of a lot of that stuff that’s been controlling me and stifling me. For me it’s refreshing. I think that’s coming to play in my studio, too,” Lisa said.
So, although Lisa has a degree in art, she’s still learning new things every day by being around other artists and working on new projects. As far as being at Central, the community aspect of it is what she loves the most.
“I enjoy helping people and I didn’t realize that until I got here. There’s several women here who are mothers and we can all relate to each other on being a mom and give each other advice, and we all have our own space to work and be creative. Now that I’m here, this really feels like it’s my career and not just a hobby. Having a community of artists here has been a driving force, and being a part of an art community is very important.”
To take a class with Lisa, tour her studio or commission her for work, visit lisawarren.com.