“A year and a half ago I got a big studio space and now I finally have a room where I can paint, paint bigger works and actually, I’m just happy,” Estonian artist Liisa Kruusmagi tells It’s Nice That. The reason behind Liisa’s happiness, other than the fact that she’s now settled “in a nice creative house” with other artists, is the fact that she’s got room to paint and breathe, culminating as the bulk of her new portfolio of works.
These paintings developed from Liisa’s style of drawing. Previously her works have always had a spontaneity to them, full of sketches and wobbling lines that depict details and, in turn, the expression of her characters. Primarily, the illustrator and artist’s protagonists are women, sitting in their rooms surrounded by their stuff, books, magazines, jewellery, scattered clothes or a boy collapsed on the bed. “I paint people, mostly girls, because I am a girl and can see this life only from my perspective,” Liisa points out. “The girls are often alone, in their homes, dreaming. I dream a lot and I think this dreaming time, or just time when you are laying on the couch, is really important. You start to think about the world, about everything, why we are here and what is important. And, I feel like those times when I just lay down and listen to music some pictures start to appear in mind, like what I want to draw next or just new thoughts. It’s actually about all of those times when you really don’t do anything,” she continues. “I think all people should just calm down a little bit, look around at colours, people, whatever.”
Each of these paintings come as the result of her initial drawings as she loves to start small, “but I think sometimes those drawings are too small, so I will paint them bigger to give power to them,” she points out. “Also, I just love to paint with those black line drawings to hand because then I can play a lot with colours. I just love colours!”
The narrative of this recent group of paintings, was the result of years travelling to Chicago through to Vancouver, coming together in an exhibition of her works, Soda Pop on Asphalt. “I was thinking that it is like a sparkling splash into the grey and boring wintertime,” she says of the title. One of the main works of the show is Diivanii Lesija, which translates as “couch potato” in English, and became a focal point and representation of Liisa’s portfolio as a whole, travelling around Europe in exhibitions and gained her a special prize as part of Lithuania’s Young Painter Prize too. “It’s actually my sister,” explains Liisa of the backstory to this popular artwork, “she is a writer and often working like that. Drawing in bed is often how I work too!”
And while it may sound as if Liisa’s spending all her time daydreaming after proving its worth, it hasn’t stopped her churning out a constant supply of paintings, and even more recently, ceramics for us to gaze at too.
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