Interview with Liese Chavez

Liese Chavez, an emerging artist who uses different medians to expose the visual pleasures of magical realism shares with Gloom Cupboard just what it is that makes her art so unique.

M.K. Barnes


How would you say that your art matured over your career, particularly in the past two years?

The narrative paintings and drawings have given my artwork life and allowed me to connect with the people that buy it in a more personal way. Every time I paint a piece I learn better how to connect with the world through visual cues.  I suppose I’m also learning patience with my painting, challenging myself more and taking much more time to paint than I ever have. I think this gives my work a more thoughtful look.

In some of the paintings in your newer collection it looks as if you are using patterns and textures in areas that would traditionally contain solid color, such as the hair of one of your models.  Is this influenced by a particular event or image?  What inspires this?

This particular collection was definitely inspired by the work of Gustav Klimt. I love to study paintings by other artists and try to learn something from what they have done. I loved the contrast between traditional oil portrait and two-dimensional planes of color that he executed so well. I took the styles that I had already developed and combined them in a similar way.

Is there a certain demographic that your art is targeted at?  Or one that inspires you to create these pieces?

I try to stick with mostly archetypal ideas that will resonate with most humans.  My voice is female, but I think that men can relate to most of the images as well as women can. In terms of the actual work for sale, I offer prints that anyone can afford as well as originals from $22-$9,000.  I want everyone to have my artwork within their reach.

In your artist bio you mention your childhood.  How much do these memories influence your artwork?  Has their influence grown or lessened with time?

My childhood dreams influence every piece of artwork I make. As time goes on the influence only grows stronger. I feed it by reading fairytales, by playing games and reading with my husband, by talking about my Mother and my Grandparents while I work. The piece I’m working on today is influenced by a little poem that my Grandmother used to recite while we brushed our teeth at night before bed. She used to say the same poem to my Mother when she was a little girl.

Do you try and capture the sense of “magic” that exists in childhood through your paintings?  How are you able to translate a feeling that is often vocalized into visual art?

Yes, that sense of magic is exactly what I’m trying to share. Translating it into pictures is the trick, isn’t it? How I come up with the right images to tell the story is where 50% of the work goes in before I even pick up a brush or pen. Some ideas go into my journal and I’m still trying to figure out how to paint them a year later.  Some may never come to fruition, but I like having the challenge of them waiting for me to get better at what I do and perhaps one day bring them to life.

There is a reference to the Chronicles of Narnia in your artist bio as well.  Since this is a literary magazine, could you explain if this reference was intentional and what part literature, especially children’s literature and mystical realism play in the creation of your art.

 The reference to Narnia was indeed intentional. For me it is combination between that magic world and the reality of my Grandmother’s closet full of old things in pretty boxes.“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a book that my Grandmother read to me many times when I was a girl. Well written fantasy is still a part of the process for me. I marvel at the authors’ ability to tell me about the world inside them and make me really SEE it.  Books such as Norton Juster’s  “The Phantom Tollbooth” or China Mieville’s “UnLunDun “ astound me no matter how many times I read them. They are becoming like my other childhood memories, they mix with the worlds in my own mind.

And lastly, do you use models for your illustrations or pull these images from memory?  Do you find that this helps or hinders your creative process? 

For the Deadpan Alley paintings in acrylic I sometimes use references loosely, sometimes not. It is not necessary for those pieces to have convincing proportions or shadows or fiddly bits. The ink work demands references and can take a very long time to put together. I think both have their value. The one encourages me to be free and creative and unhindered. The other causes me to continue with my own traditional art education, drawing from life and learning to simplify what I see into lines full of energy and life.

To view the galleries mentioned above please visit .

Published by perfectingtheartofchaos

i'm jersey girl, i may live in the dirty dirty, but i am not southern. i hate pancakes. i kinda have a soft spot for boys with dark eyes. i tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, then deny it. i believe the older you get the more you need friends who knew you when you were young. I keep old love letters, and throw away bills. i'm way, way, too smart for surprises. i only eat vanilla soft serve on jello.

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