Who are you?
My name is Lola Montejo.
What do you do?
I am an abstract painter whose work is an intuitive, organic exploration of process.
What’s a typical day in the life of you look like? How do you organize your day?
My studio is in my home, but I treat studio time like a day at work. I wake early, around 6 a.m., have breakfast, and take my tea into the studio and sit for a short while check my email and read some news. Then I start looking at all the work that is in the room and I stare at it for a while. Because I work on several paintings at the same time, there is a dialogue that happens between the painting and sometimes it takes me looking at one to figure out what the other one is needing. I am not looking for the work to equal or pair up, on the contrary; I try look for new things I can learn from the work. This taking time to evaluate my work is a process that has evolved over time but a crucial discipline for me.
As an artist who has been following a more intuitive path, there is a great deal of decision making in my work. Those decisions are based upon the endless number of experiences I have made over years of practice and the many influences that make up conscious and unconscious choices. I also look to my work and try and see how the past informs me. I try to notice the qualities in my work that I somehow instinctually bring out. I believe these qualities are based on not only my life but the experiences of many others I admire and try to learn from.
I paint in spurts and take a lot of breaks and music is always in the background. During the breaks I look again, and search for the tendencies in my work. Then I create constraints and obstacles; it’s like an experimental project. As I look at the work to notice the patterns, I try to come up with ways to change them, disrupt or embrace my habits. I take a lunch and try to get out of the studio by eating in the kitchen or taking my dogs for a walk, or take a nap. I force myself to get away from the work — it’s hard, but I have learned that if I spend too much time in front of a piece, I can develop blinders. By getting away for an hour, it helps me come back into the room with fresh eyes.
Then I work until I need to make dinner for the family, usually around 6 p.m., or if there is leftovers, I might pull a long day and work until 7 or 8 at night.
While there are aspects of routines in my studio practice, as far as the work goes, I am always trying to do something new. There is a journey involved and either you enjoy it or suffer, or both but you are an artist and you make the work out of some necessity. The life of an artists is not a typical one, but I must say I feel fortunate to be able to do so.
What are some of your struggles?
Time is a struggle. Even though teaching part time has opened up my schedule and I have 3 to 4 days that I go to work in my studio, I work slowly. You might look at my work and think it is painted fast, it is not. Many paintings take on average 6 to 9 months to complete. I wish I could be more efficient. Doubt is also a problem. I hesitate and overthink my choices and have to remind myself that it is perfectly fine to paint a bad painting, if there is such a thing.
What are some of your goals?
I would like to find a few new good galleries to work with and would like to work with a place out of town to get my work more out there. I am also trying to learn how to use social media better, I don’t know if it is my generation, but I feel like there is probably a lot more for me to learn about it. I am always wanting to learn more and hope to participate more in residencies or workshops. Eventually I would like to start an art program connecting artists from my country of Spain to the US and vice versa.
What do you do to relax and wind down?
I like to spend time with my family, I have adult kids and anytime I get with them is great, even if they just come and share a dinner or go on a walk with me. Time with family just totally fills me and relaxes me.
If you could give your 18-year-old self advice, what would you say?
I would defiantly tell myself to not sweat the small stuff, eat more chocolate and drink more wine. Take more time to travel and enjoy the company of friends. As an artist, I spend a lot of time in the studio and focused on my work but those times I get out of the studio and live and see the world — that speaks more to my work than anything else.
Learn more about Lola Montejo and see her beautiful paintings: www.lolamontejo.com