We are delighted to bring to you the fifth of this years series of interviews and the seventeenth of this fascinating series, within our Portrait of an Artist column entitled “Seeing through the eyes”. This is a section that has been created by our wonderful Portrait of an Artist Editor, Ile Mont. Mont has been inspired by the life and works of Carolyn Hall Young, as so many of us have. Young was the main contributor to our Portrait of an Artist Flickr pool and filled it with portraits of so many wonderful people, not only of herself. It is for this reason that Mont wanted to create this section, to enable us to view the artists style through their own eyes. At the end of each interview, Mont will keep Young’s tradition alive, with a portrait of herself, seen through the eyes of the artist. In this case, you will see that at the end of this interview there are portraits of Mont, seen through the eyes of Stefanie LePape, what a gift!
Please continue to post your mobile portraiture to our dedicated Flickr group or use this hashtag on Instagram #tawportraitofanartist, this way, Mont will search through these artists first to interview. (Foreword by Joanne Carter).
All images in this interview ©Stefanie LePape, with the final images a collaboration ©Ile Mont/Stefanie LePape.
Would you like to introduce yourself?
Stefanie LePape. Visual artist. I am a third generation NYer currently living in South Florida. My family background is quite diverse and each culture has had a strong influence in my life. My husband is from the north western part of France; Bretagne.
Having exposure to such diversity has impacted my process in creating. I am mostly an autodidact with brief studies in life drawing and sculpture at Art Students League in NYC.I began using a camera to preserve visual references for future painting projects.
Eventually, finding myself with more photographs then paintings I began to consider photography as my medium for expression. While I continue to experiment with various art processes I find myself focusing on creating mobile art on my phone and iPad mini.
In 2006 I took my first cell phone photo and proceeded to utilize the convenience of it henceforth.
In 2010, My NY Holga work was featured in a solo exhibit at the former Gershwin Hotel in NYC, as well as part of a collective exhibit for Lightbox Gallery in Portland Oregon curated by Susan Burnstine.
I have had my mobile photography and art exhibited in several international shows as well as with IPhoneArts venue by Nate and Daria Park in Santa Monica, California.
My husband and I have been partners for decades. We have had a decorative arts business, a restaurant and are currently creating art-wear for house and home.
What does being creative means to you?
Being creative is about perspective and a particular mindset in life.
It is the the ability of approaching situations from various POVs and seeing beyond what might be obvious.
When translated outside my mind its using limited resources so as to transform it into something else.
Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
Second grade art class assignment. My teacher wanted to submit our paintings for a competition.
Everyone was painting houses and their family and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to paint what everyone else was doing.
So I decided not to do anything. My teacher, Sister Ann, came over to me and asked why I was not painting.
“I don’t know what to do”
“Well- look at the colors… what do u see? What do they say to you?”
“I see dark colors and light colors.I see night and day”
I would wildly paint one side with all blue and purple and the other side with orange and red and yellow.
Title: night and day.
I would wind up winning 1st place for 2nd graders in Parochial schools for Manhattan and NYC districts.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Honestly…I think this is a question I need to give some serious thought to. I am compelled by different motives for different reasons at different times.
Sometimes- my mindset is driven by the technical process of creating something – Perhaps we can call it the science of art. (I sort of pride myself in accomplishing such.) Sometimes- it is about photographing at a whim whatever captured my attention.
If there is a conscious message I am trying to convey its likely reflected in my self portraits.
Why portraits and self portraits?
Portraits of others are actually my favorite genre for photography.
With street photography my eye was ever attentive to candid moments that emphasis the shared emotions of us humans.
I loved doing portraits of my friends and their children. I love my people and for me their portraits …seeing them … is my way of saying – I see you. Perhaps that answers the previous question?
With self portraits – I have been taking them for about 40 years. You can imagine how challenging that was when cameras were not easily hand held.
(I am not photogenic when others have their eye on me. I am too self conscious.) I have used my camera as a means of self therapy, purging some traumatic events in my life. It was then I realised what a liberating medium of expression photography can be . That work- now old- is not work I want to share as I have moved forward.
Nowadays, I regularly take self portraits.
Whether it is a bit of vanity or my way of documenting the fact that I am still alive… I am not so sure. Maybe It’s simply because I haven’t any available models to play act with me.. keep my distracted from my self.
What do you think are the ups and downs about working with your own image?
Downside – is I really prefer to photograph others.
I love pictorialism portraits, using my face- doesn’t always fit the concept I have in mind …As I get older I am becoming vainer.
Upside: I am available to myself 24/7. I can always manipulate myself to fit my projects.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of?
One of my first digital paintings. The original photo is from a friends self portrait- the piece I created is thoroughly transformed via digital painting. It is also one if my first attempts to loosen up my self imposed constraints. Thats a huge improvement for me.
How do you know when a work is finished?
Sometimes I know immediately. ( I am very strict with stamping my work approved.) Sometimes I intuit something is wrong. If I am not sure how to address it, I am forced to let go of a concept to actualize an end piece that fits my standards. This will usually result in some lovely unexpected surprises.
Sometimes… I begin to work on something – it will get lost in backlog- i will revisit it with new eyes and objectivity and i will either love it- or trash it… or repurpose it.
Most of my work is printed. It is only through such that I know 100 % whether or not if it is finished. The colors and composition printed and framed allow me to qualify my work on a whole new level.
A much more satisfying one over lost pixels floating in the web.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
It all starts with taking or seeing a photo that grabs my attention.
I usually bring it into snapseed to dramatize the image.
Its then brought into icolorama to create layers. I play with the pieces perspective or us other tools to have several options for layering.(cut and paste) I will then bring into superimpose to compose my portrait.
Wait… Am I answering the question?
Waking up is usually the begin of my creative patterns or routine.
Having some coffee fuelling me would definitely be a ritual.
What inspires you?
What are your favorite tools and apps while creating?
Snapseed, Superimpose X, Procreate , Icolorama, percolator, Stackables.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
Stop thinking so much.
What advice would you share with us?
Print your work.
Thank you very much for your insight and time, Stephanie!
I have been seen through the colourful eyes of Stefanie LePape!
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