We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Chiffon Lark a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Chiffon, appreciate you joining us today. How did you learn to do what you do? Knowing what you know now, what could you have done to speed up your learning process? What skills do you think were most essential? What obstacles stood in the way of learning more?
In 2017, I became inspired by abstract artists using various “fluid pour” techniques. I learned the baseline concept(s) of this type of art by watching IG videos and YouTube. Eventually, I discovered alcohol inks in 2020 during the pandemic. While many artists were utilizing alcohol ink as a form of dye or pigment to administer to resin for their pouring, I saw something different. I began using alcohol ink independent of any other medium. I combined the fine art techniques I learned formally with others I learned exploring the medium.
Knowing what I know now is most likely a fraction of the body of knowledge I aim to know in the years to come. I think being able to balance a highly emotionally driven process with manually applied techniques has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned while working with this fluid medium. Being able to surrender to the experience of creating something that is inevitably “imperfect” and recognizing that it is exactly what you need, is both a skill and a perceivable obstacle interchangeably (in my opinion).
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
My name is Chiffon Lark. I was born in a small town in the Central Valley called Clovis. My parents are both of indigenous descent (North and Central Native American). I moved to San Diego when I was 13 years old and have lived here since.
When I was 18, I submitted my first piece to a local exhibition. It was for a show in San Ysidro, CA to celebrate what is called International Women’s Day or Dia de Las Mujeres (Women’s Day). My piece was accepted and I met many very established, as well as emerging, artists during this exhibition. Another opportunity presented itself to become involved in SDSU’s A is for Art initiative as a Guest Artist. I accepted this invitation and had canvases that went on to be auctioned at La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, KPBS Studios, and The Mingei International Museum.
I was encouraged to start producing my art for sale through social media. I eventually built my website to support the work I was putting out into the world. I am honored now to be hired as an Artist for children’s book illustrations, and private commissions, as well as to have my work represented by local fine art and contemporary galleries
"I believe an Artist is someone who can create something from what they are feeling, so that when others experience that creation they feel it too ." – Chiffon Lark
Is there a mission driving your creative journey?
Absolutely. I am so proud of my indigenous heritage. Our spirituality surrounding the natural environment, an environment we are all a part of, is what inspires me to focus on wildlife as subject matter. Through my artwork, I intend to reawaken our connection with all life and to recognize the remarkable intelligence that lies within other species as much as it lies within our own hearts. By bringing awareness to this, it is my hope that others are inspired to protect our natural environment and understand that all of our lives depend on it.
I work very hard to source all of my materials from local and small business suppliers, having each aspect be completely biodegradable. This is to protect sensitive ecosystems here on Earth that all species thrive in, not just humans.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
When I was in my twenties, I became very heavily influenced by the presumption that Artists can never make a living selling their work. I was working in legal administration and had stopped doing any type of art. I felt isolated and unhappy, and that all of my success was completely determined by the approval of others. I continued to struggle with my sobriety as a recovering addict and fell into one abusive relationship after another. But as long as I was able to maintain a luxurious lifestyle and appear happy, I felt the approval of others.
A few years later, I received a commission from my older sister to paint a portrait of her daughter. I spent several months completing an oil portrait of my niece, using every skill I ever learned. When I finished, I published a photo on social media and almost immediately started receiving more inquiries about my work. I began fielding requests and finishing commissions after work and on weekends. After a few months of creating for others, I felt as though a dormant sense of joy had been reawakened.
For the first time in my adult life, art was allowing me to experience a system of self-worthiness that was created and validated intrinsically from a place of authenticity. I was being given the opportunity through art to know who I really was and I made the decision to honor that. I stopped drinking/using and started seeing a therapist. She informed me that she observed me using my art to develop a partnership with my pain, instead of trying to hide it. I realized that creating art was helping me heal. After a year of this realization, I left behind many beautiful material things and relationships (including the partnership I was in), as well as my job. I sold almost everything I owned and invested into building a lifestyle that nurtured my sobriety and supported my art, and my freedom, full-time.