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Art Beat: Slowing down to see the beautiful details

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Lisa Boerema
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"Starry Night," by Lisa Boerema
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Lisa Boerema
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A gourd painting of a hawk

Her range of mediums and artistic interests is wide and varied. A West Michigan artist with degrees in graphic design and art education, Lisa Boerema has worked and taught classes in pastels, watercolor, clay, and hard-shell gourd art. Her main lesson to her art students? Don’t be afraid to try something new.

“My dad is a wonderful watercolor artist,” Boerema says. “Burt Boerema. And I think I inherited that talent from him and that interest. I’ve always been drawing and doing creative type things. And then I did decide to go into graphic design when I did my first college round and went to Kendall College of Art and Design.”

Boerema says she advocates being a life-long learner, always following a new interest to its conclusion, learning new skills and then sharing her lessons with others.

A conversation with Lisa Boerema

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Lisa Boerema
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A decorative carved and painted luminary

“A favorite consistently for the last 20 years has been the gourds,” she says. “The gourds are really fascinating. I had seen an article in a magazine on someone who did gourd art, and that piqued my interest. I found some [gourds] at a local farmers market, started messing around with them, and before you know it, I’ve just found hundreds of them over the years. The nice thing about gourds is that they are a three-dimensional piece that is a lot like wood once that gourd is dried. It has to be a hard shell variety.”

Once dried, Boerema carves, paints, wood-burns designs, stains, adds weaving, and uses other techniques to create art pieces from the gourds. Beginning Saturday, March 5, 2022, however, she will be teaching two classes at the Lowell Art Center in two other art forms she enjoys. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., she will be teaching how to “dot paint” ceramic mugs in mandala-like patterns. The class fee is $40 and includes all supplies needed to design a mug, which then must be baked in an oven at home to complete. From 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Boerema will teach a class on polished stone pendant making. For a $27 fee, participants will receive three polished stones to create into pendants on a variety of chains and necklaces. All supplies are provided. Both classes are for participants ages 14 to adult.

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Lisa Boerema
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An assortment of pendants

“The polished stones, I got into that because I was going to Arizona during the Tucson gem and lapidary show,” Boerema says. “I started buying these flat stones. They come on a string, so they have a hole drilled through them. I was buying them to carve out a recess on a gourd and glue them in. But then I started making pendants out of them. Every year I started coming back with more stones and making more pendants, and people really liked them, so I’ve been selling them at art shows that I do. And I thought—these are not so difficult to make. I bet people would appreciate making their own.”

In spite of all her varied interests in art forms of all kinds, Boerema finds that she still turns to her watercolor painting more often than not. Within that art medium, she incorporates experimental techniques, such as using fibers to create interesting patterns within the flowing watercolor paint.

Her inspiration, she says, comes from time spent in nature. “In nature, it’s taking the time to slow down and notice those little intricacies. It’s slowing down to notice all those beautiful details.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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