With a life time captivation of the environment, Lauren Ivey searches for ways to make the viewer sense her love of the living world. Earth and jewel tones have dominated many of her paintings, helping her to express the richness of nature. Early compositions often evoke the style of Georgia O’Keefe’s florals, with their bold presence. Originally trained in acrylics, Ivey later discovered oils. Photorealistic in technique, her work has become more experimental, both in composition and in the application of paint.
Originally from New Jersey and schooled in the northeast, her interests lay in art and science. As a child her parents encouraged her love for drawing. By the sixth grade her art teacher approached her parents and Lauren was added to a small group of talented students for private lessons. In high school she was one of the 'art kids'. As a freshman in college the head of the art department hesitantly placed her in the advanced painting class. And in there she flourished. She had a restlessness to explore which moved her from one venue to another, including away from the arts and to studies abroad. By the time she graduated college she received a BA in Fine Arts and a minor in Sociology. After graduation she returned to school for credits in landscaping, and learned to scuba dive. The diving took her on many trips throughout the Caribbean which fed her deep love for the oceans and influenced her art.
In her late twenties she moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where her father had grown up. At the time she was working with Greenpeace and learning more than she wanted to about environmental degradation. A few years later she found herself working at the NC Museum of History as part of the exhibit building team, and later leading it. After that she would move to Charlotte NC to work with her cousin as an artistic consultant and the artist on staff, in building The Ivey, a state of the art facility for folks struggling with dementia. Now back in Raleigh, she is focusing more on her own art and works part-time as a professional organizer. She says that there is something satisfying about helping someone create a space that is more comfortable for them to be in. And she adds with a laugh, “Of course it’s always better to have a great piece of original art within that space!” She speaks of a collector who for several years bought numerous pieces of her work. There was one small painting he had purchased that he hung in a room full of a lot of art, big art. And, he told her, that that one small piece always drew the most attention.
Ivey's subject matter changes with time and experience, but primarily continues to revolve around nature. Wanting to bring attention to the frailty and beauty of the environment, portions of her work present some of nature’s less lovable creatures in a light of beauty. She remembers Joseph Campbell once wrote, ‘…I had someone once tell me, just think of a thing as Thou instead of It and then our experience changes’. In presenting certain animals such as sharks, she chose to utilize a stamping technique she originally applied in creating a mural. “The application of a stamped ‘frame’ on the canvas seems to create a safety for people to view an animal they might otherwise be afraid of. I got the idea from Asian silk screens. Adding flowers (also stamped) never hurts either.” She created a small series she lightly refers to as ‘sharks with flowers’. In a triptych of jelly fish this technique allows the viewer to feel the languid quality of these ancient animals as though behind a glass enclosure. And she adds, ”Both of these animals have been in our oceans basically since the time of the dinosaurs. Both populations, through human interaction, are now out of balance and it is affecting the entire ecosystems of the oceans. People fear and demonize them. That belief needs to change”.
As a painter she seeks to find that sweet spot between the realism and the magic that she has felt in nature since childhood. “When I was painting photo-realistically I always had a sense of where my start and finish were. Often now I don’t really know what’s going to happen. Sometimes I add different textures to the canvas before I paint. Sometimes I cut out parts of paintings that aren’t working for me, adhere those to a fresh canvas, and start again. There is certainly more waste, as I throw things out regularly. But there is also more play. And that is good for me.” Her work continues to evolve, explore, and evoke.
In 2019 she traveled back to New Mexico, a place that continues to enchant her, and she has begun a new body of work. She is starting back with a more representational approach to painting, though she says as time progresses the paintings will probably grow in different directions. In this body of work she is looking to connect people to the ancient history of our planet. In this she means, the human history, at a time we began to question our existence, and the geological history that dwarfs us -and feeds us. "We all need to be reconnected to the planet, and to each other."