Interview: Crazy Cakes and Dragon Doodles with Louise Wilson

>> Saturday, November 7

I love dragons.

They're just the essence of cool. Take your favorite color, mix it with fantasy, power and fire, and you get a dragon. Oh, did I mention they're usually filthy rich? Hmm, actually someone with that description--handsome, powerful, awesome, rich-- would do pretty well on eHarmony. Until he mentions the fact that he is actually a dragon. But I digress.

Louise "Lou" Wilson's beautiful work has been a favorite of mine on Deviant Art (where she is known as ~louise-art) for a while now. With her graceful watercolors and outrageously gorgeous cakes, it really isn't fair for one person to excel in two such diverse mediums.

My favorite of her watercolors is "Firecracker."

 
"Firecracker"

The painting "actually started off as a bit of play with water and color," Lou said, "and the image began to emerge out of the splodges on the paper ...

 
"Lilies"

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"I frequently do not know what a painting will be when I start out," she continued. "My imagination, my mood and any reference I have will influence the direction I go...

They are rarely planned in advance."

 
 "Moonlight"

She learned to watercolor from her mother and went on to obtain a bachelors degree in graphic design.


Louise "Lou" Wilson

"I worked in graphics for over ten years doing freelance illustration on the side," she noted. "Once I’d had children, one requiring extra medical care, the deadlines required for graphics work became impossible and impractical."

Now she prefers to paint for her own enjoyment.

 
 "Russet Iris"

Lou's paintings are often small and detailed, sometimes as small as a 3"x5" photograph, sometimes a mere 1.5" circle.

"I've worked for hours on one tiny area at a time," she said, "I loved it."

 
 "Thistle"

She often uses photographs for reference when painting, though she prefers looking at an actual object.

"I do not simply copy," she said. "... I love the real thing as I can dissect and study it from all angles to fully understand it’s construction ... If only I could do that with dragons!

"Understanding and studying any real life animal or human form can teach a lot about their underlying make-up ... be it mythical or not."

 
 "Autumn Pond"

About ten years ago one of her children became sick, requiring extended medical care. Lou turned to her art for comfort.

"I found painting really helped," she said, "and I went a bit mad throwing paint around. I had previously painted quite detailed work ... This episode saw me ‘go big’ in watercolors! Quite a change for me, and it is this style in which I continue to paint today."

"I can finally allow myself to paint without all the planning and pre-drawing," she said. "My paintings gradually have more and more feeling and emotion in them because they are more directly from the heart.

 
 "Dragon Doodle"

"I still love to simply draw though, and I think my learned skills from my college days have benefited me enormously.

"We can all do with a little practice now and then to keep up those skills, which are the backbone of our work."

 
 "Suitcases"

Lou doesn't limit herself to the 2D arts, however: her mother also taught her to bake. As a teenager Lou collected books and techniques on sugar-crafting, and in her early twenties she designed and made her own and her sister's wedding cakes.

"I always decorated anything and everything," she reflected. "Parcels, biscuits, embroidery, the dinner table, the food for dinner, painted eggs, the house at Christmas, I even carved soap into animals – I just wanted to be doing things with my hands."

 
 "Piano"

"I love a challenge," she said, "and I still leap at the chance to try and create something particularly unusual out of sugar or cake!"

 
 "White Church"

Lou creates her cakes in a special kitchen extension on the back of her house, which, she said, "became necessary when the amount of business I was getting was taking over too much of my house!"

 
 "Topsy Turvy"

Lou has no limits when it comes to designing a cake, and she draws on all her artistic skills for inspiration.

"My costume-making skills I use to create historically-dressed sugar figures," she said, "my embroidery skills to pipe cake designs, my painting skills for painted cakes--I could go on. It is really an excuse to let my imagination have fun and my hands do the creating. Then I’m happy."

 
 "Sugar Blue Irises"

One of my favorite of her cakes is "Captain Cook’s Voyage," created for a sugar-craft competition with an international theme. The cake was used to link countries featured in the exhibit.

 
 "Captain Cooke's Voyage"

Lou's sugarcraft repertoire is virtually unlimited: suitcases, pianos, even a swan, which was a wedding commission.

"I am always learning from the work I do," Lou noted.

"A lot of what I learn will relate directly to the piece I am working on-–finding ways to depict an image in sugar, how to make it hold up, etc., all things which are different for each piece. Those things all go in to the bank of knowledge which (I hope!) is growing in my head for me to call on later."

 
 "Swan"

"I love to create figures modeled in historic gowns and the fashions of years ago," she said, "which has become a bit of a passion, especially while my daughter is at university doing a degree in costume design and construction. She provides me with samples and ideas."

 
 "Parasol Lady"

Lou grew up in England and now resides in Surrey.

"I do love being near family," she said, "and this area suits my and my husbands businesses very well – I have to admit I quite like the mad hectic lifestyle, though a holiday every now and again becomes necessary to prevent total burn-out!"

 
 "Nemo"

Lou has been on Deviant Art for two years. Though she doesn't have much time to spend on the computer, she loves to browse other artists' galleries, which, she said, "somewhat makes up for not having time to get to museums and art galleries ...

"I also like to see what people might have to say about my work and always really appreciate constructive criticism."

 
 "Embroidered Wedding Cake"

Lou is also inspired by the world at large. She particularly loves the work of two artists in particular. One is a 19th century British painter, John Martin.

"His fantastic, atmospheric and moody paintings ... inspired me from a very young age," she said.

The other is Patrick Woodroffe, "a current artist," Lou explained, "of many book and album covers and fantasy creations, including models with extraordinary elements and creatures with mood, violence, romance and a wonderful 3D quality."

 
 "Mini Cakes"

As for future work, Lou would love to do more dragons.

"I’ve always loved fantasy and imagination," she said, "and been inspired by dragons and mythical creatures in particular. I used to ‘doodle’ characters and fantasy landscapes as a child ...

There is a sense of a relaxed mood which I feel when thinking about dragons, drawing or painting them. I have been known to ‘draw my way through migraines’ in the past and would find myself producing imaginary worlds and creatures ...

I do believe this sort of work has a beneficial calming effect on me, and being a usually very busy, active, non-stop person in my everyday life, I think I need that! I also love their somewhat decorative nature – much more attractive and interesting to look at than us!"

 
 "Phantom of the Opera"

"My imagination and dreams can come up with masses of things I’d like to do," she said.

Art is not just Lou's job. It's her passion and what keeps her going every day.




~with many, many thanks to Lou for sharing her marvelous art with us.

2 comments. Leave a comment.:

fruitsofthebloom Nov 8, 2009, 6:31:00 PM  

I can truly appreciate Lou's talent and the time/love it takes to create things in sugar! (I've made sculpted sugar flowers myself en masse!) ;o) Her watercolors are transportive, great find, Emily!

xox-Loren

Scrapninny Nov 14, 2009, 10:57:00 AM  

I love dragons too! Those cakes are superb. Wouldn't it be cool to see a dragon cake!
-Lisa.

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