Oceanic Contemplations with LINDSAY RAPP
It is no secret that the ocean has a very special place in LINDSAY RAPP's heart. She has a sublime spiritual connection with the ocean where she is able to communicate all her philosophical and emotional musings. It is when Rapp paints that she carries the oceanic spirit through her brush strokes and meditates on the sensuality of the ocean's movements as a narrative on femininity and the complexities of human nature. She then illustrates her findings by layering various mediums on top of each other in her artwork to create clear fluid movement. Rapp speaks with Editor, Angela Butkus about her inspirations and goals as an artist and shares her take on what beauty truly means.
What inspired your love for the oceanic nature that transforms in each of your art pieces?
I was born and raised in beautiful, sunny Florida. While growing up, I was surrounded with people who loved the ocean. At only a few weeks old my mother and father would take me out on the sailboat every weekend. My father was also a surfer and he taught me about the waves. My whole life, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and the culture around it. I’d want to go to the beach whenever I could, wear anything that reminds me of it, like seashells, or even just the colors of the sea. I feel most alive when being out on the water and the most connected with nature, God, and myself. It’s an amazing spiritual and sublime experience. The connection I have with the ocean has grown to be more than just inspiration, but part of who I am. I especially noticed it when I moved away from home, to the northeast where not as many people share my same love for the ocean. It made me stick out-- it defined me. The ocean, even on a subconscious level-- when I decide what to eat, what to wear, or how to decorate-- it always influences me. I can’t help but paint about it when I face a blank surface! [I consider] the ocean to be very human. I relate the way it fluctuates and flows to things going on in my own life. The ocean has so many levels of meaning with the subconscious.
What are your favorite themes to cover and what do you want your viewers to gain from your artwork?
My favorite theme to cover is painting women in relation to the ocean. My other favorites are creating portraiture in general, seascapes, wildlife and some abstract artwork. People & seascapes are wonderful to paint because that is what I relate to the most. I love capturing experiences, whether it’s emotional, a dreamy subconscious, a magical world to escape into—I want my viewers to pull from their own experiences and emotions in relation to what I present in my paintings. I want people to reflect, and to escape into an elated, magical, dreamy place; to relate to the feeling expressed as if it were their own.
How do you correlate the ocean’s nature with femininity?
The ocean takes on very feminine characteristics in my eyes—the way it flows, how soft it can be, how sensual its movements are [and] it’s glowing, mysterious aesthetic. I love comparing the different aspects of water to similar aspects of what it feels like to identify as a woman.
How do your pieces develop? Do you start with a particular emotion you wish to convey or focus on content and technique more?
It’s hard to have one side without the other. It is similar to wondering what came first, the chicken or the egg? [Though,] I will usually see something that emotionally moves me and then I obsess over re-creating that emotional and aesthetically striking experience. What moves me changes from day to day depending on how I’m feeling and what I am going through in my life. It’s when something strikes me that I run with it in the moment to let it flourish before I change. We are constantly changing just like the sea. Inspiration is like a potion-- that particular spark [must] strike all the factors in your life [to] come together and align. Who we are, our emotions, mood, experiences, conscious and subconscious all factor what takes our breath away on a moment to moment basis versus everything else we absorb that swooshes over our heads. Inspiration is all around us all the time. It’s a matter of which inspiration will strike us as opposed to someone else. Currently, what catches my eye for inspirations include: dynamic compositions, expressive paint application, a mood of a palette, an emotion in a person’s stance or deep within their eyes, a narrative behind an image, the feeling of wanting to be somewhere like an escape or a dream, the association or symbolic value of an object, a beautiful narrative story, a spiritual elated rush.Too many things in the world are inspiring! Emotion, technique, and subject inherently go together in my process.
It seems that your art emit both feeling and thoughtfulness. How would you describe their relationship both from a philosophical standpoint as well as how they pertain to your art?
The feelings, thought, and philosophy behind my artwork vary from piece to piece, but a common thread between all of them is to express whatever I’m feeling through fluid, oceanic paint application. What I mean by that is, I like to imagine that I am creating a current with my brush stroke. I am thoughtful about creating brushstrokes to feel expressive and fluid.
What are your favorite mediums to create with?
Mixed media. Each type of paint and material has it’s own strengths. I love harmonizing their strengths together to create my desired aesthetic. I love acrylics for their texture, and their options for using metallic and dichroic paints for added effect. I love the rich, deep colors, and the beautiful silky blending of oil paints. Spray paints have special inherent effects that no other material can mimic as fluidly. I like to also use beautiful, precious materials for not only decadent decorative value, but also for it’s refractive nature, which, like the metallics, are interactive for the viewers to see a painting constantly changing and reach beyond the state of stagnant. I also get that effect using leafing, with copper, gold, and silver. My favorite carriers for these materials are mylar which I adhere to either plexiglass or wood. I like to paint on several layers of mylar, both front and back. I layer them and adhere them to the surface of choice, such as cradled wood, which has been my support of choice lately.
Your gallery is so gorgeous! What motivated you to open your own art gallery?
I was originally trying to decide between going to art school for a masters degree or just looking for an art studio space just to paint and work. I was just coming out of my undergrad, and was ready to officially, full time, try to see if I could start a career with my life long passion of painting. My father, being the business man he is, actually suggested that if it were him, he’d want his art studio to be a retail space so that he could get some more business with foot traffic. The idea initially scared me, but it also excited me. It was scary exciting. I remember thinking it would be such a dream come true experience, but was it even possible? Wouldn’t retail rent be out of my price range? Am I worthy of having such a spotlighted space? Would I be able to handle two jobs at once of being a gallery owner and an artist? I had so many conflicting feelings of excitement, hope, curiosity, mixed with self-doubt. I knew I had to at least look into it or I would spend my whole life wondering “What if?” As my parents taught me, now is always the best time to take action. I’ve always had an adventurous spirit. I love the adrenaline of taking risks, jumping head first into things I felt most others didn’t dare to do. I love conquering and quieting that voice of self-doubt, proving it wrong. I searched for months, and found an amazing deal on one of the most prominent streets for art galleries, being known as art gallery row in old city, Philadelphia. I ended up deciding to take the money I saved for grad school, and put it all towards my life-long dream of having a full-time career as an artist. With help and support from my family, boyfriend, and friends, we put up a wall in the middle of the retail space; the front half being the gallery, the back half being an artist studio space. I spend all my time here, working, painting, and trying to make this dream come true! It has been wonderful!
What has art given you on a personal level? Has it taught you anything about yourself?
Creating paintings is very meditative. Whether I paint something I like, or dislike, it is all coming from a very real place inside of myself. It has helped me clarify how I think, feel, and discover who I am on so many levels. It lets me think about not only what it is to be a human, and what identifies one person to the next, but it also lets me meditate on all things spiritual.
What’s next in your horizons? Any exhibitions or special events you’ll be hosting anytime soon?
Yes! Every first Friday of every month, I host an opening presenting my new body of artwork. There are street vendors, performers, live music, and much more! People give out free food, bring out their artwork, crafts, jewelry, etc-- it is a wonderful gathering on this little street of all the artists coming out of the woodwork to show their artwork. People travel from all around the area to come enjoy the street vendors as well as the galleries keeping their doors open after hours.
If you were to define beauty, how would you describe it, and what do you think its relationship with wisdom is?
In my experience, I believe beauty is a combination of aesthetic/mental interest and emotional connection. Anything must have both for a viewer to deem something as subjectively beautiful to them. Beauty’s relation to wisdom? Wisdom is defined as widely accepted good judgment; and beauty is personal judgment. What one person might deem “wise” to consider beautiful, a “foolish” person might find something else to be more beautiful. I think it does take wisdom, and knowledge to appreciate the beauty in some things, but I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think that everything has a beauty about it, even though I have my own preferences. I think it’s wise to appreciate everything, and everyone’s opinion of beauty, and to never taint what others find beauty in. I don’t like pointing out the absence of beauty, because another might find that absence full of beauty. Nobody should take away beauty from another person’s viewpoint. I think people of all levels of knowledge, and wisdom, have their own sense of what is beautiful, and nobody is wrong. What is wrong is taking away beauty from someone else’s eyes. What is wise is to be open to other’s interpretations of beauty. Whenever I hear people doubting their opinions about what is aesthetically pleasing, like if they say, “I think this looks (good/bad), but I don’t know anything about art.” I say that whether you have artistic training or not, you have your own set of knowledge that shouldn’t ever be discredited. Everyone’s opinion-- no matter their background-- matter.