HomeArtA Picture of Serenity Calming Series of Paintings that bring a little bit of Joy In our modern lives we always seem to be in a rush: rushing to work, hurrying our food, whizzing around art exhibitions. So it makes a pleasant change when you come across something that reminds you take a deep breath and calm yourself down. Enter stage left, Laura Berger. The Chicago-based artist and illustrator’s paintings are intended to bring “a sense of calm or peace, some connectedness, some lightness or happiness,” she tells us. Laura actually started her creative career in theatre which she studied at school. Pretty soon she found herself painting the sets after she had graduated. But she didn’t start making her own work until tragedy struck. Her father passed away. “It was a nice distraction and a way of healing. Which it still is, I suppose.” You can almost feel the catharsis on the page, her effortless childlike style seems to create an oasis of serenity on the canvas – or wood panels in Laura’s case. There’s a feeling of wonder and playfulness but also a sort of charming naivety about her work. We asked Laura a few more details about her paintings: The Plus: How do you get in the zone when you’re working? Laura Berger: I think it’s truly just about persistence for me – some days I really don’t feel like working, but I force myself, and as long as I just keep at it I eventually get into the zone and I find I can work for hours and hours and actually have to make myself stop. Or my hand will really start to hurt or something, ha! TP: How would you sum up your style? LB: Illustrative, graphic, playful. TP: Where do you look for inspiration? LB: Really everywhere. I think anything can spark an idea – it just has to click in with some other stored experience or thought that’s already in your brain, and there you have a new image pop up. At least that’s how it feels for me. Music, patterns, textiles, colours, travelling, dreams, animals, conversations, books – everything can be a source of new ideas. TP: What was the last exhibition you went to that really spoke to you? LB: I just saw a really cool Charles Ray retrospective at the Art Institute here in Chicago. Part of what was so stunning about it was the way they presented the show – in massive, open, airy rooms with only a couple of sculptures in each. Much of his work is so huge that this really gave each piece the space it deserved to hold. I was very into it – quite stark and moving. TP: Have you got anything else in the pipeline? LB: I have an exhibition of new work coming up at Rotofugi (http://www.rotofugi.com/) here in Chicago, which opens on September 11th and runs through Oct 11.