Laura Pope is an amazing person. She is an incredible artist, a wonderful friend and a dynamo who is leading an international organization of spiritually connected artists called The Society of Layerists in Multi-Media. Mary Nelson is the founder of the organization and Laura is the acting president of the group. Mary Nelson writes, The Society of Layerists in Multi–Media (SLMM) is a network for artists who express a holistic perspective in any style or medium. Layering is not a label for a specific technique, such as collage. It is a way to think about creating art as a synthesis of ideas from many sources: the sciences, philosophy, metaphysics, experience, and imagination. The layers in Layered art are the references and meaning that the artist brings to the work rather than the materials used to create it. As a society, we are focused on the intentions of the artist.
Laura has a background in theatre costume design, advertising, marketing, display, special events and promotions. She says, I made the decision to turn my attention full-time to creating fine art. I have never looked back!
My work is a culmination of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects I experience at a particular time. Starting with random marks and strokes, I add many layers of colour to allow unexpected images to appear. I let the paint ‘speak to me’ and tell me what it wants to become. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to work with very gifted artists who have encouraged me to tap into my intuition for inspiration and subject matter. Their influence is still apparent in my work today.
In my books and courses I teach I am always asking what your story is. This is not about the painting itself, but what are the layers that are going into this creative process? Your creativity reveals your story of who you are whether you are a minimalist or a maximalist, you have a story. I have been honored to be a member of this group for many years and Laura and Mary have become great mentors and friends. I recently had time to be with Laura and we were sharing some of our stories. I was very taken with a family story she shared about living through her worst fears and how coming through the experience has added to her story and her art. I asked Laura if she would be willing to share some of her stories with us today and she graciously accepted.
Laura, thank you for sharing your wisdom and words with us today.
Where do you find your deepest inspiration?
My deepest inspiration comes from within me – I become the conduit for the spiritual energy to flow through me and speak through the medium I am using at the time.
Has there ever been a time when the well ran dry and what did you do?
Yes there was! – I actually went into an ‘artist’s block’ and was afraid to paint. I think that happened because I got very caught up in my head thinking what would my next series be? Would it be any good? Would my gallery and the public like it? The book, ‘the Artist’s Way’ by Julie Cameron helped me to work through this period – I found myself journaling 9-12 pages a day instead of the suggested 2-3. I realized I was taking my work far too seriously and it became stressful instead of fun or fulfilling. I needed to allow myself to ‘play’ again! To fail! To just enjoy the process again!
We all hope to avoid facing our worst fears but how has living through them enriched your life?
I did have the opportunity to face the biggest fear that I had had since I was 16 – it was a health issue and my doctors did not expect me to live. But I did and after I recovered, I have always thought of it as a gift because I had to draw upon the courage and strength deep inside of me that I had no idea was there. I felt empowered and fearless – I knew that no matter what the adversity, if I stayed positive I could work through it and get to a better place.
What have you found is on the other side of fear?
Now when the unexpected happens I take a deep breath and prioritize and take things one step at a time – I take note of what I am learning through the process – because if we can learn through the experience we can become better – a better person, a better artist.
How has this contributed to your creative process?
It has helped me to be free in my studio – to let the creative juices flow and let the unexpected happen! I now appreciate the process more than the outcome and trust that in the end, a story will be told.
Art heals, we know that, but did it bring about some unexpected discoveries? Did facing your fears change your art and how?
Yes it did! When I first started painting, I would paint what I saw and my work was very photo realistic. Now I paint intuitively but there are recognizable shapes within my work so it isn’t totally abstract. Mostly, I allow random marks and strokes tell me what they want to become and trust that there is a story within me that will reveal itself. I have learned to really like and appreciate the unexpected! It is uniquely my own.
How long have you been involved with SLMM and how did you first connect?
I joined SLMM in 2007 after another artist saw my work and suggested I attend the next meeting and check it out. I immediately felt like I had found my artistic home. In fact, I took on the position of Southwest Regional Coordinator which I held from 2008 and additionally served on the Board of Directors from 2013 through 2018 when I became the national President.
What has being a member of the group given you?
SLMM stands for the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media so the work produced by our members is very diverse in style and medium. Layering is not to be taken literally as in technique – but rather it is a metaphor for an underlying connectedness to everything through living and learning which inspires the creation of the work. It is this philosophy that connects our members making this organization unlike any other. I draw great inspiration and motivation from our group through the various styles, mediums, and processes.
You are now giving back by acting as the President of SLMM. Thank you for this and where may others find out about the organization?
It is an honor for me to serve a group of such accomplished and talented artists. We hope to remain a relevant component of the art world and people can find us at www.slmm.org.
Where do you see the group going in this new decade?
As our members are located across the United States and Canada, it becomes more difficult to physically meet with rising costs of travel but we feel it is important to maintain a sense of ‘connectedness’. There are ‘pockets’ where a larger number of members live in close proximity, and these groups try to get together more often and on a national level, we try to hold an annual conference. However, moving forward into the millennium, use of the internet will be key to connect with other members and public exposure for our group. This means we will need to be more active on our website, as well as the other platforms of social media, which can be a mixed bag when it comes to security issues.
Laura where may we see more of your art?
I have an artist page on the SLMM website, my artist Face Book page is L Pope Art and I will have my new website up soon at lpopeart.com. I also have work on display in the walk-through gallery of the Buffalo Design Architects office in Albuquerque.
What question do you wish I had asked?
Can’t think of any.
Thank you, Laura, for sharing your art and your story with us.