We had the good fortune of connecting with Lorraine Bubar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lorraine, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
I gave myself permission to create art that is more uniquely “me” inspired by my life experiences and my passion to explore and create. My art reflects my love of nature, hiking, and traveling; my love of crafts and things created by hand and an appreciation of master craftspeople, and an appreciation of diverse cultures around the world. By giving myself permission, I have created a much more original and distinctive style. It is also a way of working that continues to delight and surprise myself, allows me to be in the “flow” as I lose myself in the detailed way I create, and connects me to historical and contemporary ways of working. Years ago I discovered Georgia O’Keeffe and remember how she stopped painting the way she had been instructed and started to pursue her own way of working. Here are two quotes that reflect her path: “I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down” and “I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.” I put down my paintbrush after of years creating narrative watercolor paintings that included my interest in botanical things, and metamorphosis and movement, reflecting my years of working in the animation industry. I picked up an x-acto knife and started to cut my work out of paper and have been pursuing that ever since. Creating intricate lacework out of colored papers sourced from countries where I have traveled, has connected me to the heritage of papercutting that exists in so many diverse cultures, from Eastern Europe (my background) to Japan, China, and Mexico. I am doing it in a painterly way by “painting” with paper, but also by often illustrating contemporary issues. Happily as I create art that is more distinctive, it has lead me to memorable life experiences. I have been an Artist-in-Residence in four National Parks (Denali in Alaska, Zion in Utah, Petrified Forest in Arizona, and Lassen Volcanic Park in California). I have also been in international exhibitions in places like Lithuania, where there is a wonderful heritage of papercutting, and in the International Triennial “Paper Global” in Deggendorf, Germany, and the Paper Biennial in Shanghai, China.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always loved creating. I was fortunate that my family home was filled with art materials and that my mother and grandmother were very creative DIY women, which I fully embraced. I was encouraged to explore art making, art appreciation, and attending museums but not the idea of becoming a professional fine artist. I have pursued many ways to make a living through my art skills before pursued my own art. In college, at UCLA, I decided that I would become a medical illustrator since I loved art and science. Really what I loved most about the science courses I took there was romping through wild, open spaces with the professors, looking at the wildflowers and insects. I took animation courses in the Film Department at UCLA and at Yale, thinking that I could make educational films. I made some short films that were shown in national and international film festivals. That lead to a very creative career working in the animation industry for small companies that were making animated television commercials, then animated effects for feature films, and then titles for feature films. This was still at a time that the art work was created by hand. During the end of that career, I taught animation at Santa Monica College. I also did some illustration for magazines. It is never easy to make a living in the arts and it often requires more than one job, freelancing, or working in multiple fields. After my two daughters were born, I began leading art projects for children at places such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. That lead to my second career of teaching. I taught drawing, painting, and printmaking to students from elementary to high school level. Those were very creative years and I learned a great deal about art materials, techniques, and ideas by seeing the projects through my students’ eyes. I had been painting detailed narrative watercolor paintings and exhibiting them, but teaching took all of my creative energy. When I stopped teaching full time I jumped back into my own art making. I am so glad that I have this time and support from my husband to spend as much time as I now do in my studio. I am also grateful that I have been able to travel to as many places as I have. I try to create art that reflects many of the “AWE” moments that I have had, from seeing the vast number of penguins and icebergs in Antarctica to being immersed in a cloud of Tortoise Shell butterflies in Lassen Volcanic National Park. I do believe in finding AWE moments every day and appreciating them, even if they are close to home.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I grew up in Los Angeles, lived many other places, and never planned to live here permanently once I moved away. But now I appreciate Los Angeles so much! We love that it is close to mountains, desert, snow, and ocean. I am a passionate runner and run to and along the ocean almost every day. I am a passionate hiker and appreciate the proximity to the Santa Monica Mountains and being close to the Eastern Sierras. The first place I would recommend is hiking somewhere locally, such as Temescal Gateway Park or Will Rogers State Park. I also love all of the cultural activities to take advantage of in Los Angeles. My current favorite museums include Contemporary Craft Museum, the California Museum of African American Art, and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. I also am a huge fan of the Natural History Museum. In the Spring time, I would recommend going to their Butterfly Pavilion and in the Fall, their Spider Pavilion. We also love the diversity of food here and the diversity of grocery stores, including the Japanese market Mitsuwa.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have enjoyed being a member of The Guild of American Papercutters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to papercutting and paper work as an art form in all its historical and contemporary styles. It was established in 1988 and its members range from beginner to highly skilled amateur and professional full-time artists and teachers and members who don’t cut but are papercutting enthusiasts, researchers, historians, and collectors. Members cut their work with x-acto knives, small scissors, or sheep shears following traditions from their own cultural backgrounds. I appreciate being a member of such a diverse group of artists that are not part of my Los Angeles art world.