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GET TO KNOW

LAUREN FOGG


 1. Are you originally from Memphis? If not, what brought you here?

I am not. I grew up in an Air Force family and spent my early childhood in Germany, then moved to Florida when I was seven. It seems like arriving in Memphis was sort of a happy accident. After graduating from college I was doing some wandering around the country, and as is common with wandering without a plan, I ran out of money. So I came to Memphis for what was meant to be a quick pit stop to stay with my dad, who was living here at the time, and ended up falling for the city and then a man, who is now my lovely husband, so I stayed.

2. What is your favorite part of living in Memphis?

I think the neighborhoods must be my favorite part. I live in Cooper Young, so I am biased that it is the best neighborhood, but they all have distinct personalities with quirks and old homes and businesses that you don't really find in all parts of the country. It's a unique town and I love that about it.

3. When did your current practice begin?

I have been painting since I was in high school but didn't start working with oils until I was in college. Once I discovered oil painting that was it for me, I've been in love with it ever since.

4. Can you tell us more about your process?

My painting process has a lot of variation, but typically I'll start off with random mark-making using thick oil paint, normally burnt umber because it dries the fastest. Then I begin pouring paint with different mixtures of glazes, always changing the formulas because I like the way layers react to each other and how that forms texture in the process. I'll let the layers build up for a while and eventually begin to see images in the shapes and colors. I start moving away from loose pouring and towards more brushwork and controlled glazes. At this point, landscapes hopefully begin to take shape, and I become more calculated in my painting, using the patterns that form in the layering and developing them into more detailed imagery. Some paintings develop much faster than others, and it seems to depend on the luck of the draw because of the randomness of how I start them, but this also means I have never thrown away a canvas, I just keep adding to it until it becomes something. This isn't to say I always begin a painting without any ideas of what the outcome is going to be, but the translation of the idea is always changing.

5. What is a typical day like in the studio for you?

Because my studio is in my home, I have a fluid relationship with it. I am always popping in and out, but I do try and maintain a schedule for my own sanity. Normally I start my day off working with a cup of coffee still in my pajamas. I never worked in the morning until recently, but much to my night owl surprise, these first few hours have become some of my most productive. I will take a break mid-morning to do things like working out, walking the dog, errands etc. etc. and then get back in and work on-and-off until around ten or eleven at night. What I am working on changes day to day; sometimes I can spend my whole day on one piece, and sometimes I will bounce between a dozen different pieces, it really depends on where I am with each painting. The last thing I do before calling it a night is clean all of my brushes, I hate cleaning brushes, but I do it each night so that they don't pile up and become this nagging background thing to distract me.

6. How has your work developed in the past few years?

I think my paintings have become more representational over the years, and I have started including elements that I never used before, such as lines for fields and trees. Lots and lots of lines. I also started approaching paintings with more of an end game than I had previously, they still develop in generally the same way but I will have an image in mind and try working toward it rather than being completely free-form.

7. Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?

I can't remember the first work. However, the first time I saw J.M.W. Turner's The Slave Ship in person I was very affected, and to be honest I cried.

8. What or who influenced this body of work?

Environments that I have visited recently come up again and again in my work. My husband and I take these long trips where we spend most of our time hiking and exploring the wilderness, and that immersion plays a huge role in how I think about landscapes. I have begun seeing places in a state of constant flux, how they are changing both on small and large scales, from shadows of passing clouds to the major destruction of a forest fire.

9. What were you reading / listening to / watching while developing the work?

I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for the first time recently, and Tolkien's imagery is so beautiful that it really started to influence some of my own imagery. I didn't start painting elves or anything, but I did think a lot about his landscapes, Mirkwood in particular.

10. Whose work is currently on your radar?

Because of Instagram, it seems like I am always finding new artists to love, but right now there are two Australians artists who I think are incredible, Adam Lee and Suzanne Archer. Both are painters, and both have these distinct ways of being intricate yet loose in their painting. Peter Doig has been a long time favorite, Maja Ruznic is amazing, as is Michael Armitage. There are just so many good painters out there.