My 2018 Calendar is Here!

09/26/17

My 2018 wall calendar is now available for purchase!

This monthly calendar is 7×14 inches, printed on 100 pound opaque bright white paper and spiral bound with a wire-o hanger for easy hang & display. These calendars are limited edition. Only 350 are for sale. Once they are sold out, they are sold out.

These calendars were digitally printed in the USA in beautiful Portland, Oregon by a family owned print shop. All artwork was created by me. Get yours here!

I am also taking wholesale orders, so if you own or manage a retail shop and would like to place an order, email me at hello@lisacongdon.com

Thank you for supporting my work!

 

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Stewart Easton

09/14/17

{Recent quilt by Stewart Easton}

Every now and again I meet and befriend an artist online who lives half a world away whose work really speaks to me. British artist Stewart Easton is one of those people. Stewart was trained as an illustrator, and his work is actually quite narrative in the traditional sense, but it is his choice of medium — embroidery, and now weaving and fabric, that make it so enormously special. He sometimes spends eight to twelve hours a day embroidering, and his use of color is spectacular. His work is heavily influenced by both folk art d by his overt rejection of macho culture.  “The other side of embroidery is its ability to make a stand against male macho garbage,” he says. Recently, I interviewed Stewart about his work and his process. Enjoy!

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Lisa: Your website bio reads: “I draw. I sew. I ride a push bike and I like Clarks shoes.” So my first question is: what is a push bike and how is it different from a regular old bike?

Stewart: Haha. A pushbike is just a regular old bicycle. Guess it’s an old English term for a bike.

Lisa: Where do you live and what do you like about where you live?

Stewart: I currently live in London. I’m in Archway, North London. It’s real green here – lots of parks. I’m real close to Hampstead Heath, Finsbury Park, Queens Wood and lots of other woods and parks. So I’m real lucky to have this environment and then there is the gallery and museum scene. All the big shows stop off here so get super inspired and blown away by some real great art and artifacts. I’m really lucky.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about your trajectory as an artist. Where did you study art? What mediums have you used over the years and how have they changed? How did you begin embroidering?

Stewart: I missed out studying for a BA Degree. I was too busy being a ‘drop out’, but then in my early thirties I realised that I couldn’t really move on and progress in life without a form of a standard education, so I went along to an open day at Coventry University to enquire about an Illustration BA. Luckily I had already been freelancing with illustration, had a strong portfolio and kind of knew (at that stage) where I was at, where I wanted to be. etc. So i skipped the degree and went straight on to do an MA in Illustration.

At this time I was drawing as a practice using dip pen and ink and was interested in sequential illustration and story based narratives. My research at this time was in Folk Art – culture, customs and aesthetics, and I had the opportunity to explore working methods and mediums as long as it sat within my research. I tried embroidery and got sucked in. At this time embroidery was really quite different to the numbers working in thread now. I remember there were three main influences at the time in embroidery : Megan Whitmarsh, Kent Henricksen and Annie Aube. These were the guys who were making the most interesting works which to me was super exciting. Now embroidery is big business – but at that time (ten years ago) things were quite different.

 

{one of Stewart’s early ink drawings}

 

Lisa: When you are working on an embroidery piece, what is your process? Do you start with a drawing, etc?

Stewart: Yeah. Sketchbooks. I tend to begin with a sketchbook. They’re not necessarily used for embroidery designs, but I’ll have a week or so of working in a sketchbook if i’ve just been working on embroideries.

Mostly I’ll be stitching for an exhibition, or working on a project, so I’ll be working to a deadline. I’ll have a month or two (sometimes longer) of stitching solidly. Mostly eight to twelve hour days stitching. After these stitching marathons I need to kind of re-adjust to normal living. It’s at this time i’ll start on works that are gentle and kind on me like painting, drawing or sketchbook work. Then it all starts again.

{L: One of Stewart’s works in progress; R: Stewart holding one of his pieces}

Lisa: Embroidery is something that takes a lot of time and patience and precision. Where is your mind when you are embroidering? What, if anything, do you listen to while you work?

Stewart: My practice environment has changed since moving to London. I used to stitch to music. I would listen to a lot of drone stuff like Earth, or stoner stuff like Sleep. The slow speed of the riffs in these mirrored the practice of stitching. I also listen to old American roots, and primitive music. I like the crackles of records and the hiss of tapes – the analog kind marries well with fabric and thread.
I work more in my partner’s studio (Claire Scully) more now and she’s a sci-fi nerd so we watch lots of repeats of Stargate and Star Trek.

{Stewart’s more abstract, less narrative embroidery}

I’m just working on a book at the moment where I am discussing embroidery as an abstract. As my embroidery work has moved away from narrative and into abstract forms and colour it’s raised an interest in its ability to connect an audience in a shared experience through its removal of a story line. I see a connection with the Lojong teaching in Tibetan Buddhism and the abstract embroidery. it’s what I’m aiming for with the new works and explaining in the book I hope.

{Stewart’s older, more narrative embroidery}

Lisa: Why do you embroider? What is it about embroidering that appeals to you?

Stewart: There are two threads (like what I’ve done there?): the first is that embroidery allows me to soften a line. There’s a certain quality of line that you get with stitch which isn’t possible with ink or pencil.

The other side of embroidery is its ability to make a stand against male macho garbage. My childhood was spent on a poor council estate (bit like the the missions you guys have over there) and to be a boy is to be macho. Most of my life decisions have been against the modern expectations of maleness and not wanting to be associated with this. Though I had the most amazing childhood there. So working in this medium gives me the tools to be gentle and kind (as Morrissey says).

I suppose this connects with not wanting to sit with contemporary expectations of culture and maleness. Music has always been a real big influence on me and it was really Morrissey who opened things up and showed that you don’t have to be a fighter to be a chap. So music was the beginning of this path.

Lisa: You are an illustrator in the true sense of the word in that your work tells stories. And your work has a really amazing quality to it – it’s both very modern, but clearly draws on influences from the past, in particular folk art. Tell us about when you became interested in folk art and where you draw inspiration for your work.

Stewart: I’ve always loved stories, especially urban myths. When we were kids there was a white lady (ghost) who hovered over the fields, a mad axeman in the woods, and a number of haunted derelict houses near where I grew up. No one ever saw these, but everyone seemed to have an aunt, uncle or some relative who had. So from an early age story has always been a massive thing for me. During my late teens I discovered traditional music and got hooked on the tragedy and hardships in the narratives of the songs. The whole range of human emotions are contained therein. I often use lines from these as starting points to projects. My early work was always draped in costume, sadness of these times, so most of my early work mirrored these often rural, pre war times, events and situations.

Most recently I have become interested in post-war works and world. Especially between 1945 onwards, it’s something I had always dismissed. But, it was such an exciting time to have been making work – it was full of hope and expansion for the artist, writer, architect. My work became coloured and joyful. I guess hitting forty changed that for me.

Lisa: Do the stories and characters in your work begin in your imagination? Inspiration and ideas often come to us in a flood. How do you manage all the ideas and inspiration that enters your brain?

Stewart: Wowzers! Yeah constant overload in my brain – stories, colour, stitch, painting, weaving, drawing, writhing. I want to do everything.

I try to give time to all of these. So some mornings will be spent writing funding apps etc. afternoons drawings, evening sewing. I have no social life as such, but when your time is spent doing things you love it all becomes some fun. Sometimes I think that going to sleep and dreaming is my social life.
All of the characters and stories begin with with a spark of inspiration. Can be from a book, film music….I can be reading and a character can enter a scene which will get me thinking and then from there it will develop. It doesn’t all come at once it comes at moments when i’m not expecting it whilst washing up or something. So each story will usually contain references to five or six different sources.

{A recent weaving by Stewart}

Lisa: What projects are you currently working on right now?

Stewart: This weekend (it’s Saturday morning) I will be working on an arts council funding app, Finishing off embroideries for a show in Portland, Oregon in October at Nucleus Gallery; checking that quilt is working ready for a show on 23rd September in Glastonbury; and starting some painting for a show next May…..

Oh and fixing my loom ready to weave again. See – BRAIN OVERLOAD.

Lisa: What is one thing you tell yourself to get yourself through when you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated?

Stewart: There are two things which I tell myself the first is that when something I’m working on is really not working or is being a real pain, I know that when it is done It’s gonna be one of my favourite pieces – Just stick with it.

Secondly If something isn’t working I keep on with it until it does. All the lame, difficult, horrid, events that happen to us in life makes us what we are and we’re pretty awesome so this piece of work is just like that and will be awesome when done.

{Stewart painting a mural a few years back}

Lisa: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you Stewart! You can also find Strewart on Instagram at @stewarteaston.

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A Glorious Freedom // West Coast Book Tour

09/05/17

I’m super excited to be doing a West Coast book tour for my latest book – A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives (see pre-order & purchase details here)! Other dates around the U.S. to come later in the year and in 2018. If you live in Seattle, Portland or the Bay Area of California, I hope you will join me for one of my kick-off events! I love meeting people, and I’d love to meet you!

October 14, SEATTLE WA. I’ll be at Elliott Bay Book Company for a reading, conversation with book contributor Shauna Ahern and signing! 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, 7:00 PM

OCTOBER 16, PORTLAND OR. I’ll be at Powell’s Books (Downtown) for a reading, a conversation with book contributor Jennifer Maerz, and a signing! 1005 W Burnside Street, Portland, 7:30 PM

OCTOBER 20, San Francisco: I’ll be at Booksmith for a reading and Q&A and a book signing. 1644 Haight Street, San Francisco, 7:30 PM

OCTOBER 21, Richmond, CA: I’ll be at Kaleidoscope Coffee for a conversation with Betty Reid Soskin, who I interviewed in the book. In her late 90’s, Betty is the oldest park ranger in the National Park Service! Join us at 109 Park Place, Richmond, 6 PM

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A Glorious Freedom: Pre-order and Get a Print!

09/04/17

On October 3 my latest book, A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives, is released! Today we are launching my pre-order campaign: purchase a book and get a free signed limited edition poster (pictured top left)! This offer is available to 100 people only, so get yours today!

Here’s how it works…

Between today and 10/2/2017 11:59 pm PST:

  1. Purchase a book from any online retailer: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndiebound | Chronicle Books. If you’ve already purchased, just find your receipt number or purchase number to add to the form (see #2).
  2. Fill out this form here.
  3. Chronicle Books will send you the poster pictured above, which is on of the illustrations for my book. It’ll be signed, numbered and dated, just for you!

That’s it!

Thank you for supporting my work. Stay tuned tomorrow for book tour locations and dates!

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CATEGORIES: For Sale | My Books
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September Print of the Month

09/04/17

Friends! My September Print of the Month is here! Proceeds from the sale of this print will go to The United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund. 100% of the donations to the United Way Relief Fund go directly to help the community recover from Hurricane Harvey.

This print is LIMITED EDITION, and this month I am releasing 50 prints (usually it’s 40) so we can raise more money! All prints are signed, dated and numbered by me. Get yours here! Let’s help the victims of Harvey!

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