We were lucky to catch up with Libby Bussinah recently and have shared our conversation below.
Libby, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Learning the craft is often a unique journey from every creative – we’d love to hear about your journey and if knowing what you know now, you would have done anything differently to speed up the learning process.
For me, it all starts with drawing. The simple act of dragging a stick across a surface and making something recognizable from just that single tool has been a lifelong fascination. I’ve always had a love of line work, so I began to explore ways to keep the drawing showing through the layers of paint. Coupled with a love of technology from extensive experience in graphics and digital processes, I decided to combine the two. The goal was to create a unique process, blurring the line between traditional and digital techniques with the resulting fusion of the two undetectable to the viewer. I call this mixed media method of working “TraDigitalism”.
I wanted to devote a lot of time on the drawing at a size where distortion and detail could be better controlled, but also have the freedom to scale it to any size for the final painting. Discovering the combination using traditional pencil drawings and creating digital transfers, gave me the opportunity to achieve that.
Subsequent layers of alcohol Ink or acrylic glazes add transparency and luminosity to the work, reflecting light from the surface, to convey a ‘lit from within’, otherworldly quality. My palette varies, but overall, I tend to focus on colors that are vibrant, full of light, and complex in depth, contrasted with very flat and/ or metallic elements. The addition of the rich and opulent glow of metal leaf not achievable through any other substance, also adds a dimension of otherworldliness, focusing the viewer solely on the subject. It also forms a barrier around the figure, taking it ‘out of the real world’ by the absence of a recognizable background.
I begin traditionally by creating a drawing, scanning it into the computer, working with the digitally formatted image and removing any background that I don’t want. Often, I will leave the paper’s tone on the figure as a base for a grisaille like underpainting to build my lights and darks on top in a modernized variation of the Old Masters technique. Color is added through layers of glazing. The drawing itself dictates what type of media (acrylic or ink), and where/ if to add metal leaf, as the process evolves as I paint. The composition/ size is often finalized in the computer. Occasionally, photographic images are added to the digital file in an almost collage like way to enhance the story or to add symbolism. Other times, I create a background on the substrate with traditional methods and use the computer to work out placement. The digital file is then printed on an emulsion-based film that is transferred to the painting surface. Next comes building layers of paint to complete the piece. In some instances, when the figure is complete, I add further details (such as images of people’s actual tattoos – see example) with additional transfers.
The actual process is always evolving, as I explore new ways of combining traditional methods with emerging technologies, finding the possibilities limited only by one’s imagination!
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 mixed media paintings draw inspiration from the belief that we are here to become the best versions of ourselves, as we encourage and support each other. This journey as ‘saints in the making’, forms the very core of my work- to celebrate the innate beauty, self- worth and dignity uncovered in the often hidden narratives of people.
With over 40 years of experience, I earned a degree from Ringling College of Art & Design in fine art, illustration, and graphic design. I have exhibited in invitational, juried, group and solo shows primarily in the Southeastern United States. Recently, I was invited as the original concept, content creator and participant in the W.O.A.-H! (Women of Age – Ha!) exhibit at my alma mater. The eight-woman show focused on the vitality and creativity of women artists with more life experience. I assisted in the invitational process, in collaboration with the gallery, as well as placement, hanging the show and appearing in a live streamed interview about the work.
I live and work from my home studio in a rural area just outside Columbia, in central South Carolina.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
Beyond a likeness, yet recognizable, I am intrigued with capturing the quintessential spirit of a person through gesture and expression- a portrait from the inside out, if you will. We are ‘shades of grey’, full of contrasts and nuances, symbolized by the extensive use of grey and layers in my work. Desire to serve God fuels my pilgrimage to discover remarkable stories of strength, inspiration, and beauty in people who consider them ordinary. I believe this is our journey as ‘saints in the making’: become the best versions of ourselves and nurture others as we travel to our eternal home. It is my hope that viewers experience a feeling of connection and belonging through my work, sensing they are part of something eternal and to practice greater respect for all living things- and their Creator.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
Building an audience on Social Media is an on-going process. Algorithms are constantly changing and it’s difficult to keep current. My advice is to pick one or two platforms and be consistent in your posting- no matter if it’s once a week or every day. Make a plan that you’re comfortable with and stick to it. Take the time to explore what the platforms have to offer and learn how to use the technology to your advantage. Try to automate as much as possible, so you can get back to creating, because sharing the work and building relationships and conversations around it should be your primary focus.
To see more of Libby’s work or to contact her about commissioning a piece:
- Website: https://www.Libby-Art.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/libbyartstudios/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibbyArtStudios
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/libbybussinah/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/LibbyArtStudios
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeHopXuELB9JsDBmCeQwQ8Q