Laurie Lipton was born in New York and began drawing at the age of four. She was immediately supported by her parents and even won a scholarship to a top school. “My parents reacted in the traditionally Jewish way and screamed, “GENIUS!!”, when they saw my work“, says Laurie. She attended art classes in school but hated what the teachers showed her.
She was the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing; she also graduated with honors. But even in university she did not fit in. The fashion at the time was Conceptual Art, so she skipped classes and taught herself composition and drawing by copying Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck and Memling in the University library.
When traveling around Europe in her 20′s as a student in her 20′s she saw Jan Van Eyck’s “Lamb of God” painting in Ghent, Belgium. “It made me gasp in awe and wonder. I saw God is in the details.” Thus she attempted to emulate this with her own painting, but failed. “I ached after the detail in their pictures. I couldn’t figure out how to paint those little lines that they used.”
Laurie then began developing her very own peculiar drawing technique. Using a permanent point pencil, she builds up areas of tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines like an egg tempera painting. “It’s an insane way to draw”, she says. The resulting detail and luminosity allows her to achieve beautiful greys and clear details. However, she never smudges. The drawings take longer to create than a painting of equal size and detail. “It’s well worth the effort.”
She continued to travel frequently between Europe and the USA, Each time when flying she was required to fill out a Landing Card, when arriving in different countries. She finally wrote in the Occupation section, “Self-Employed Artist,” when she was 26, and distinctly remembers the realisation: “I am an artist!”
The black and white photographer Diane Arbus was another important inspiration for Laurie. “Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of ancient photographs and old TV shows… it is the color of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the imagery in my work.”
She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France and then settled in London in 1986. However after 25 years of living in London, Laurie was inspired to relocate to Los Angeles after attending and exhibiting at a number of exhibitions there where her work was received well.
Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA. In 2010, publisher Jon Beinart published a monograph of Laurie’s artwork, “The Extraordinary Drawings of Laurie Lipton” (ISBN: 978-0-9803231-2-2).
“Technically Lipton is a profound draftsman. She captures nuances of light and shade with masterful proficiency.“- Artweek
“… but it’s not just her pencil that is sharp, her wit has an equally fine point which comes through in the titles of her detailed drawings.” – The London Evening Standard