Lyd Walls: Abstract Artist Stays True to Herself
By Brian Pitre
At the turn of the 19th century, the art world was introduced to a style of painting that would be the basis for debates for years to come. Legends such as James McNeill Whistler, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso began to blend Romanticism, Impressionism, and Expressionism into an art form that to this day is still argued by many to be simple, child-like, and lacking vision. However for the creators of this new abstract form, as well as for the enthusiast who support its creation, the form leaves nothing to be desired. It allows for those who see beauty in colors and shapes to express their love for that beauty and display it on canvas for the world to enjoy.
One local artist is embracing her own abstractness and using it to grab the art world by the horns. We got a chance to sit down with Modernist Painter and Abstract Artist, Lydia “Lyd” Walls to discuss how she is trudging her way through the art scene, throwing paint in the face of tradition, and leaving obscure masterpieces in her wake.
Brian Pitre: So were you born and raised here in Lake Charles?
Lyd Walls: No. Actually I was born in Biloxi on Kessler Air Force base. We moved to Philadelphia where I was raised and I landed here in 2000.
BP: When did you first discover that you had a love for the arts?
LW: I was always aware of my creative spirit at a pretty young age, but convinced myself I had zero talent because I was always comparing my work to my brother, who is an amazing artist, and has had quite a successful career as such. Though I did what I could to soothe my creative urges by dabbling in other arts of all sorts, such as singing, music and culinary arts, I didn’t truly rediscover myself again until my early-to-mid-30s when I said “screw it,” and picked up a paint brush.
BP: So have you had any formal training in the arts field or are you more of a self taught master?
LW: Master… that’s funny! I’m all self taught!
BP: So who or what made you finally decide to pick up a paintbrush?
LW: I had recently endured several years of a very difficult time. The kind that makes you question if you’re really living life. “Am I doing something meaningful? Am I fulfilled?” The answer was NO! I listened to my heart and finally acknowledged the passion that had been lying dormant for so long.
BP: So what first drew you to abstract art? Is that the very first thing you ever painted or did you experiment for a while before landing on your style?
LW: I’ve always loved abstract art. I’ve always been drawn to things a bit edgy and out of the norm. I never wanted to be like everyone else. I’ve just always felt like a bit of a weirdo. Plus, I can’t draw, so abstract was the way to go. Truthfully I could never really visualize what I wanted to paint. I just knew I wanted to, so I did and let my feelings guide me. I know that may sound cliché and corny, but it is what it is. I’m very drawn to textures and heavy contrasts more than images of something specific. I like the suggestion of things. That way, everybody has the freedom to interpret things in their own way. I love when many people are looking at the same image, but it means something different to everyone. Each person connects to it in a different way; a way that makes sense to them in their life right at that very moment.
BP: Why the paintbrush? Have you dabbled with other mediums? If so, how deep did you dive into those worlds before you discovered the paintbrush? What was it about the paintbrush that you stuck to so firmly?
LW: I don’t really know. I just seemed to connect with paint. It felt like the purest way to express myself and the paintbrush was all I knew at the time. Now, I rarely use the brush. I use my fingers and a palette knife mostly. I’ve recently started using things like cardboard and cut up credit cards. I still use brushes occasionally to lay in background and such but my brushes are from the paint section at Lowes. They’re large and leave awesome brush strokes!
BP: I love it! When did you complete your first painting? What was it, and how did it feel completing it?
LW: HA! My first painting was in 2005 of an abstract flower; a very simplistic and minimalistic piece. Large-long brush strokes, lots of darks for depth and mood alongside touches of bright reds and blues. I painted mostly flowers and female faces at first with lots of flowing hair, and almost always with eyes closed. I couldn’t draw eyes, but I really liked the way it always conveyed a sense of mystery and serenity.
BP: From where do you usually draw your inspiration? Are there any artists or particular types of mediums that inspire you? Do you Facebook or Instagram stalk anyone in particular whose works you really enjoy?
LW: I can’t really pinpoint where my inspiration comes from. It’s so many things. Being in nature, being in the hustle and bustle of a large city, the stillness of my yoga class, and of course other artists all serve as part of my daily inspiration. Two of my current favorites right now are Jeremy Mann and Flora Bowley, both whose Instagram accounts I follow. I also follow Teresa Magel. All three are abstracts artists, each possesses a very unique style, but I’m really drawn to their work. My total obsession right now is Jeremy Mann. His abstract depictions of cityscapes are amazing!!
BP: What is your favorite piece you have created and why?
LW: My last piece is always my favorite because my style and technique constantly evolves from the previous one, and I almost always learn something new.
BP: When did you realize you could be successful at selling your art?
LW: When I first started painting, it was just to satisfy the urge to create. It was for a “just for me” type of activity. Almost immediately, people reacted to my work, which in my opinion was primitive and overly simplistic. Eventually I started to listen to all the feedback and gained enough confidence to put a few pieces in a very small informal show. Since then, I’ve been covering canvases with a whole new outlook.
BP: Very cool! So, the freedom abstract artists have in style and technique allows for their subject matter to be pretty forgiving. What do you have to say about the argument that because of this, abstract art should not be held in the same regard as contemporary art?
LW: Art is subjective. Like beauty and food, all art is a form of self-expression and should be regarded as that. Whether it’s considered “true” art or not is not for me to say, and honestly I don’t really care one way or the other. All the hoity-toity art critics can stomp their feet all they want, but people love abstract art just as much if not more than traditional art. I have more sold pieces than I have left unsold, that is for sure. Creating art however I see fit fulfills my soul and that’s all that matters to me.
BP: What would you like to tell an aspiring artist of any age who is looking to turn their passion into productivity?
LW: Stay true to yourself. Stay true to your passion. Create things that make you happy. Pour out from your soul. Keep it real. Trust me, people like real.
BP: What can we expect to see from Lyd Walls in the near future?
LW: I’ve been playing around a lot lately with some unconventional tools that are giving my pieces some harder lines, textures that I’m really excited about. I will be showcasing some of my latest works at Pujo St. Cafe for Spring Art Walk on April 29 and at the Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur for the Works of Women show on May 19. I hope to see you all there!!!