Saturday, May 11, 2013

a visit with JJ Lee

Tell us about how you adapt your studio and your practice in order to collaborate with your daughter?
It started with me putting up a big piece of paper to play and experiment on. I knew that my daughter would want to draw on it so I allowed it, especially since my studio is in my house. However, I didn't realize that this was all going to develop into an exhibition! We would wake up on Saturday mornings and paint together in our pyjamas. The biggest challenge for me, especially as an painting professor, was to NOT say anything and allow whatever happened to happen. She had full choice of materials and colours, I did no direction whatsoever. We would draw on top of each other's marks, etc. 

What did she teach you about your work?
She reminded me to play and focus on the process rather than the end result. She taught me to silence the critical voice that is present while working. She reminded me that I love working large scale, loose and full of colour! It was important to me to work with her at this age, before the self-consciousness in drawing developed. It's right before the age that children are preoccupied with realism as the main objective. It's about responsive mark-making, narrative, movement, exploration. Things that I try to teach my students that she has naturally. (And has not been taught out of her in the school system yet!)

What will you carry over into your next body of work?
I plan to continue working large scale mixed media drawings, and allow a more intuitive, playful process to enter the work. In one piece, Fairy Tales, Mei made a giant tree. I like this idea and metaphor. I might continue with that imagery.

What do you listen to while you work?
Mei's singing made up songs and telling stories about what she was drawing.

What would you do if you didn't paint?
Equally creative but more practical!

Thanks for inviting us into your studio JJ!
JJ and Mei's exhibition Sign Languages continues at loop Gallery until May 18th.
You can also see more of JJ's work at