Clarissa Callesen is an accomplished mixed media artist with a penchant for turning the ordinary everyday object into extraordinary works of art. Clarissa is new to All Dolls Are Art, but I am know that she will be a huge hit. She will teach you how to bend and stretch your creative muscles in three fantastic classes: Wish Keeper (Friday, July 25), Steampunk Sally (Saturday, July 26), and Bohemian Gypsy (Sunday, July 27). To see more of Clarissa’s work and follow her creative adventures, visit her website and blog.
Clarissa has a video on Vimeo where she discusses her dolls. She has had her work published in Somerset Studio and the inaugural Sommerset Gallery. One of her pieces is featured in Opie and Linda O’Brien’s “Dada Art Dolls” book. Her dolls have appeared in Art Doll Quarterly, and I have a figure of Clarissa’s in my personal collection! Clarissa exhibits her work at art festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest including the renowned Bellevue Museum Art Show. She has participated in gallery shows as a solo artist and as part of groups.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Hi Clarissa, tell me about the dolls you create.
Clarissa: I create assemblage dolls from recycled and found objects. I enjoy giving discarded objects a new life. I am drawn to the rust, patina, and evidence of life on found objects.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Where did you start your artistic journey? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Clarissa: I knew I wanted to be an artist in 3rd grade, and then I got distracted with horses and math for most of my school career. I went to college on a drama scholarship and, in a moment of being frustrated with the lack of creative input I had in theater, I wandered into the art department and never left. Making art, talking about art, learning about artists fed me in a way I hadn’t found before that. I have been both fortunate and tenacious enough to make a living as an artist since I was 22.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: So you are a full time artist! How long have you been able to focus on your art?
Clarissa: Yes full time for 20 years.. Eek that makes me feel old!
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I’m coming up on my 20th anniversary with my day job too, but I’m not a full time artist! Where do you find artistic inspiration? Do you keep an art journal?
Clarissa: I am currently addicted to Pinterest and justify my hours on the computer as “artistic research”. I am inspired by other artists of all medium both famous and unknown. My studio walls are a giant collage of art images, postcards, quotes, old work of mine, rusty objects, and general chaos. Those visuals become some kind of non linear source of inspiration. I also keep little scratched out ideas on random piece of papers that no one can decipher including myself.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I have recently discovered video’s on Pinterest and have been sucked in! Describe your process for starting a new piece. Do you know exactly how your pieces will turn out before you start sculpting/painting or do you allow your creation to develop as you work?
Clarissa: All my work is greatly inspired by the objects I have on hand. I start with a porcelain doll that has been discarded to the Goodwill or a yard sale because its owner has out grown it. Those dolls have a certain prissy kind of quality to them and my first order of business is to do some creative deconstruction. I am not a traditionally trained doll maker, and I am starting with a partially constructed figure so a lot of my process is about altering that original doll and combining with found objects to create a completely new art piece. I use a lot of alternative techniques to achieve the look I am going for including but not limited to taking a butane torch to my dolls. I might have a mood or a feeling about the direction a doll is going but for the most part I try to stay out of the way and let the process and the materials create the work.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Do you believe you have a muse? If so, how does your muse express his/herself?
Clarissa: I believe creativity is the essence of our life force. I don’t have a “muse” per say but I believe there are things I don’t cognitively understand that allow and nurture creativity to flow through me and into physical works of art.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: What a beautiful way of articulating creativity! Please describe a day in your studio.
Clarissa: That greatly depends on what kind of deadline I am working on. I try to do some kind of social media update or promo to start the day and then the sky is the limit. I might be torching a whole group of dolls and splashing paint and stain around or I may be spending quiet hours capturing that elusive look in the details of a painted face. I enjoy the alone time in my studio and listen to audio books while I work.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Describe an idea that you have that is yet to be born. What is keeping you from starting?
Clarissa: I want to create large life sized doll as part of a larger gallery instillation. Also dolls that are more abstract and even further away from traditional forms.