Now Featuring Lindsay Stripling

Lindsay Stripling makes paintings that speak to possibility. Accessible, figurative, and peopled with a diverse population of alter-egos, Stripling paints parallel spaces and stories in watercolor. Even her most off-putting tableaux also speak to our ability to experiment and reimagine.

Exclusive Print 1

Exclusive Print 1, Triptych

Exclusive Print 2

Exclusive Print 2, Cloud Blowers

Exclusive Print 3 , Ouroboros

Exclusive Print 3 , Ouroboros

MH: To get started, can you talk about the people and creatures we meet in your paintings? Who are they? And where are they?

LS: My paintings are filled with people and creatures I have met, who are maybe partly me and who are from my imagination. I am interested in creating a world in which anyone can insert themselves, so I use masks and intentionally use different body types and skin tones. I also intentionally mainly use women and androgynous creatures because I think providing a space for women, non-gender conforming, queer, trans and basically all people to exist where they are not continuously objectified and instead are able to be a part of something more interesting, have power and be powerful is important.

The world my creatures inhabit exists partly here and now and partly in my dreams, in a universe that doesn’t quite exist yet and doesn’t make logical sense. It’s one peel of an onion away, close enough to feel relevant but far enough to blur my vision.

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MH: What are the stories (literature, myths, your own narratives) that have influence you and the scenes that you paint?

LS: I have always been very interested in alternate realities, fairy tales, folk tales and stories from the future and how they can reveal and create discussion around our current situations. I am influenced by authors like Haruki Murakami, Helen Oyeyemi, Angela Carter and Walter Moers, but I am equally influenced by movies, TV, and music. I always come back to shows like The Fringe (or anything from JJ Abrams), Star Trek, ET, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Tremors… and I love B sic-fi movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

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MH: How do you think about narrative— do the stories/characters come to you before the images or vice versa?

LS: While narrative is super important for me is difficult for me to pinpoint where it begins— I usually start with an inkling of an idea or a scene, and begin painting, the painting typically begins to build upon itself. Usually what I thought it would be ends up being far from what it becomes. Often I try to create multiple scenes within one image, creating multiple entry points and even exit points.

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MH: How do you use whimsy and humor as tools in your work?

LS: I find whimsy and things people view as cute or pretty as places to trick people into having more interesting and subversive conversation. I love it when I have a pastel-colored painting that is filled with missing limbs and sea monsters. I strive to have my work have the same effect as old fairy tales; our initial idea of them is pop, full color Disney cartoons, and then when we look at the underlying narrative and its cultural history it becomes grotesque and has so much more to say. I like that. I find that both whimsy and humor are great ways to lure people in— they also help me to not take myself so seriously!

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MH: I see that you also teach art. I am always curious how teaching might influence the teacher’s own practice. Have you experienced that?

LS: Definitely. I teach adult education watercolor classes, and I struggled for years to figure out ways to make painting and drawing more approachable to people who have never painted or drawn. What I’ve discovered over the years is to firstly make it quick, none of us really have long attention spans anymore so I focus a lot on bite sized information and how to make it easily digestible. Secondly, nobody likes to leave a class they’ve paid $100 for feeling inept or frustrated, so I try to make being loose a tool. Often beginning watercolor students use way too much water, and that’s because controlling saturation levels is really difficult and also being patient and waiting for paint to dry is painful without practice. So I try to encourage students to use the messy, unpredictable quality of overly wet watercolor in their favor, and to understand how to gain certain effects while trying to control chaos— so students leave feeling empowered.

Most of my lesson plans emphasize imperfection and nuance and I think over the years it’s begun to show in my own paintings. If I stress less about depicting a perfect tree, which as an A type person I normally want to do, then I can focus more on the larger image.

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MH: What are you working on now, and what are you longing to work on, but for whatever reason (resources, time, courage, opportunity) haven’t gotten to yet??

LS: I am currently in a three month residency at Irving Street Projects in the Outer Sunset. I am doing a large, ten painting panorama of Ocean Beach, as well as making some mobiles and other interactive portions to the space. I am hoping to get to do more residencies. It’s nice to think larger and outside my comfort zone, I have been really wanting to do more murals recently too.

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