We love our members, so every month we feature one of them on the site and in the newsletter. This month, our featured member is Lisa Pijuan-Nomura in Hamilton, who is a mixed media collage artist, a storyteller, a creativity coach and creative director of art and performance centre Studio Beulah (@studiobeulahart). Here, Lisa gamely answers all our questions about her work and her life.
(P.S., not a member yet? What are you waiting for?)
Workshop: Describe your business in 10 words or less.
Lisa Pijuan-Nomura: Studio Beulah is a space for performance, art and community.
W: What was the first product you sold?
LPN: I remember this very clearly. I'm a self-taught mixed-media collage artist. I was a theatre artist and performer and was burnt out. So I said to my partner, I think I'm going to become a collage artist. They were like, Great. What does that mean? I'm like, I don't even know.
I would sit down for two hours a day and make whatever, and I was sharing my work on a blog. One day this woman wrote to me and said, I really love that piece that you created. Can I buy it? I was like, oh, no — then stop, wait. I said, actually, I have a craft show coming up. So she came and she bought this 12-by-six bird collage. And it was the first thing that I ever sold.
W: What’s your latest innovation?
LPN: Studio Beulah homes a handful of different artists. The most exciting new thing is something that we call Mama Max. Max is my son, who's 12. He mostly does ink drawings, and people have been collecting his art since he was six.
During COVID, he started drawing these portraits. And he kept saying, oh, it's not quite right. So we had the stack of not-quite-right portraits. Right before a big festival in September, I said, hey Max, I just found your not-quite-right portraits. Can I paint them? He said yes — as long as I tell you what colours, and I do the final inking. So we have been doing not-quite-right portraits, and we've sold quite a lot of them. He did one of an NBA player, and it ended up in that NBA player's house. So it's kind of an exciting thing.
W: What’s something you’ve done in the past year that you’re proud of?
LPN: Um, I turned 50. And on February 1 , I found out that I was part of the Artists in Residence program with the Luminato Festival in Toronto, which is a six-month residency. Then the last day of that residency I found out that I was going to Estonia for the European Artist Exchange, which was a six-week residency in Tallinn.
You know, you hit 50 and there's a part of you that thinks, oh, this is the end. And I really feel like I'm inspired to think that 50 could possibly be the beginning. So that's what I'm really proud of, and just doing new works and trying new processes and new ways of working.
I normally work on performance from January till June, and then from June till December I work on visual art. There's always overlap within that. But I decided one of the focuses of the residency with Luminato was what happens when you create both performance and collage together. How do they influence each other? And what does that look like? So that's what I'm proud of.
W: What’s something new that you’ve learned lately?
LPN: One thing I've recently found that I'm in love with is Gelli plate printing. Basically, they're a block made of gelatin. You put either acrylic or ink paint on it, and then either stencils or whatever it is that you want, and you put paper down on it. It's like mono printing.
There's a whole world of doing magazine transfers or image transfers using these, where you put acrylic paint on the plate, then you put a magazine page on it, and then you pull it up and the ink has stayed on the plate and you can print and take an image from that. So I'm very excited to explore that with collage right now. It's possible that I'm just about making a million messes. Because it's so good. So beware. It's really addictive.
W: What’s the most recent thing you’ve bought from another Canadian maker?
LPN: I buy a lot of things. That's one of the reasons I think I do craft shows — I just want to buy the things. I got a small owl figurine from Mossy Wood Arts, a creator named Amy Bowles, and a glass from Rob Raeside Glass.
W: Describe your dream studio.
LPN: I'm almost in it. I'm sitting in what used to be a space that would be open for the public to come in, and we used to run a youth arts collective. We would feature different artists and do classes in here. Since COVID, it's my own space together with my partner and my son.
This used to be a two-car garage. It's one of the reasons we moved to Hamilton. We used to call it "mouse hotel," because there were many, many, many mice in here. In 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After treatment and everything, knock on wood, I'm good. After all of that, I said, it's time, so we renovated it. It lives among spruce trees and pine trees and backs onto an alleyway, and it feels really special.
The only thing I would add is I would have a bathroom in here, because right now there's no plumbing. And I have this dream of a second level so I can host artists and residencies.
W: What’s one book, movie, TV show, magazine, podcast or album that you’re loving right now?
LPN: Maira Kalman is a New York–based artist who wrote these kids' books like Max in Love. It's about this talking dog in France who hangs out with poets and opera singers. They're so quirky and weird. I've realized that she also creates books for adults. Her most recent book is called Women Holding Things. She shows paintings of women holding things, and the words are things like "women hold families together" and "women hold memories" and "women hold stories." And then there's random things like a woman holding a duck. There's something so magical and whimsical within her illustrations that I find inspiring.