Lisa Laughy: Creative Ideas Set Their Own Priority

llaughy_headshotLisa Laughy is a woodcarver and painter living in central New Hampshire. She has been carving for the last ten years after spending several decades as a designer and illustrator. Lisa’s work is primarily influenced by the early medieval Irish manuscript art best known by the Book of Kells, but other influences can be found in nature, the Stave Churches of Norway, Viking art, geometry and alchemical engravings.

Your bio mentions that you work in two mediums. Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

I am a woodcarver with a strong background in design and painting. It wasn’t until my creative work became focused on wood carving that I realized how much of the design process for my 2D work is conceptualized in relief — the criteria I use when visualizing a painting or design begins naturally in my mind as an image in low relief. I feel as if the years of designing, drawing, and painting in 2D were actually spent in preparation for working in wood, even though that was never part of my original plan. It has been a slow, steady, and seamless transition in my creative process between the two mediums, and I feel that each supports the other.

LLaughly_marriage_shield_webAt what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

My two earliest memories are of birds singing (Chickadees), and drawing with pencils and crayons. I have a painting of a Robin I did when I was five years old, and my mother submitted it to a magazine — that made a big impression on my little self. As far as I can remember I have always thought of myself as an artist.

How would you describe your spirituality?

“The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Gustav Jung

LLaughly_children_of_lir_webHow does your spirituality find expression in your art?

I experience my creative process as a search for meaning — which I think is how a lot of people would describe their spirituality – but I don’t consider myself to be a spiritual person. For me, meaning is best explored and understood through symbols and myths — so much of my creative process is spent attempting to communicate personal meaning using those elements.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating?

Coloring has become enormously popular, and many people are discovering the meditative qualities of coloring complex patterns, or doodling along the lines of Zentangles, and I think to a great extent, that is a similar process to the ‘flow’ I experience when I am absorbed in creating a design, or focused on a carving. It is a kind of timelessness, a side-step from the usual experience of physical time, and it is an enormously relaxing and regenerative process.

LLaughly_bowl_of_remembering2_web How do ideas come to you?

I read a lot — especially about history, mathematics, science, and psychology. I look at a wide range of artwork and art history books. I look at nature, and pattern, and color. I use those elements as a filter for the thoughts and whatever else is churning around inside my head, and try to find a way to project something outward that captures some sense of meaning for what is going on for me. As an example: I recently bought a small chunk of interesting wood — wormy butternut — I knew I wanted to make a carved bowl, but this wood was riddled with worm holes. So I thought — what is a bowl with holes? A sieve! And then I thought — yeah, my brain has been like a sieve lately, I can’t seem to remember anything. This led me to the idea of carving a bowl with holes with a brain-like texture on the outside, to represent the frustration I have been feeling about my poor memory skills.


LLaughly_ninthwave_shield_webHow do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I keep lots of notebooks and sketchbooks to capture ideas as they come to me — sometimes I am just making a quick sketch, or writing down a quote, or a note to follow up on an idea. Other times I am doodling to see what comes out. There are always ideas that have more immediate appeal than others, that seem to need the most attention at the time, or are more compelling in one way or another, and these are the things I work on first. But I often go back to those rough sketches at a later date and expand or adapt them. I feel like creative ideas set their own priority — what doesn’t emerge initially as an overly compelling idea often becomes something worth pursuing at another time.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

I think a lot of people feel that there is a great deal of mystery about the creative process, but it is helpful to remember that the more time you spend working at something the better you get — you will definitely improve as you go along. A large part of creativity is based in skill, and this is something that can always be improved through practice and learning. The aspect of the creative process that is more elusive is the internal aspect — the most important part of working creatively is what you as an individual bring to the process you practice.

Thanks Lisa!

LLaughly_triple_raven_webFind out more about Lisa and her work at

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If you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship, email me at vlowry (@) While I’m no longer recording new episodes for the Art as Worship radio show, I’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interview each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Namaste!

Dixie Speck: Communing with God through Nature

For Dixie Speck, President, CEO and Lead Designer of Solterra Landscape Inc., plants and landscaping aren’t just a business, but an obsession. Her passion led her to leave a career in the engineering field, move to Atlanta, receive training in landscape design and horticulture, and start a landscaping business.

“I get to be outside every day enjoying communion with God through nature. After walking a property with a client, I walk through again on my own and start to get a vision of what the finished landscape could be and what plants could work well. I feel that God is leading me in that way and helping me figure out what would look great in my design for that particular property.” ~Dixie Speck

Listen to Dixie’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Solterra has gained a reputation for delighting their customers both in creating beautiful, distinctive landscapes and providing excellent maintenance service. Solterra customers know that they can request special services and it will always be accommodated.

Solterra’s clients are looking for MORE – particularly more quality and more communication. Dixie and her Solterra team have won local and national awards for landscape design.

Dixie says, “I pay attention to little details — not just the flowers and the color, but the difference in the textures of plants and how they can work together a living design. I feel like an artist on a grand scale when I assemble the puzzle pieces together to create a beautiful landscape with a variety of plant material. I’m working with God’s gift of all these gorgeous plants.“

Dixie has taught classes on landscape design for Emory University’s Continuing Education Program, and is regularly asked to speak at Garden Clubs and other industry events.  She appeared as a guest designer for several episodes of HGTV’s Landscape Solutions. Dixie serves as an expert resource for Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine and is on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Urban Ag Council. 

Find out more about Dixie and Solterra Landscape at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Pat Fiorello: When You’re Creating, You’re Alive

Pat Fiorello is a professional artist who especially enjoys capturing the beauty and energy of nature in her vibrant oil and watercolor paintings. She is known for her impressionistic paintings of landscapes, gardens and florals.

Pat’s family name “Fiorello” comes from an Italian lineage meaning “one who lives near a wall of flowers,” so it’s no accident that she is drawn to painting flowers and scenes which capture the essence and beauty of nature.

“When you’re creating, you’re alive. It doesn’t matter what you are creating. You could be creating a piece of music or a dance or a spreadsheet or a casserole. When you’re in the experience of taking nothing and creating something, there’s nothing more enlivening. The creation itself is an amazing process and gets you out of your own self – out of your own ego and the voices in your head. You are present in the moment.” ~Pat Fiorello

Listen to Pat’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Pat has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and worked in corporate marketing for 20 years including positions as Vice President, Marketing at Nabisco and Coca-Cola.

Self taught at first, Pat later studied with noted artists to develop her talents and skills. In 2002, she left her corporate marketing position to pursue her passion for art and concentrate on painting full time. Now she teaches others to paint at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Atlanta and other places in the U. S., Caribbean and Europe. While she is helping people build skills in art, her broader intention is to provide enrichment experiences for adults.

She says, “I really believe that you can never stop learning in art. I share with my students a quote I have in my studio that says, ‘I am still learning.’ That was a quote by Michelangelo when he was 87. You can start learning at any age and art is something that will last a lifetime.”

Pat has served as President of the Georgia Watercolor Society and Chairman of the Atlanta Artists Center. Given her unique blend of business and art skills, she also works as a coach with artists and arts organizations to help them be more successful.

With all that Pat juggles as an artist, teacher, coach and business owner, she says, “At the end of the day, it’s just a great day if I’ve had the opportunity to paint, learn or inspire someone to grow or get one step closer to their dreams.”

Find out more about Pat, her workshops and her art at Check out her blog “Art Elevates Life.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!