We had the good fortune of connecting with Lori Mitchell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lori, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
What makes me happy? That’s a great question, especially now. In the first week of sheltering in place I was listening to too much news and feeling anxious and uneasy. It finally dawned on me that I needed to remember what made me feel happy, what gave me comfort. So I made a list. One of my favorite things to do is to draw and paint. So I drew and painted all the things that gave me comfort. I made a copy of the black and white outlines to post on my social media. I have been posting coloring book pages and activities each morning for anyone that might want something to do while they are at home. I also teach art through the Athenaeum. I am teaching via Zoom now so all my students are at home. My students made a list of what gave them comfort and then they all went on a bit of a scavenger hunt around their house to find the items that represented comfort. Once they had the objects, they set them up and made a composition and drew and painted them. Teaching art makes me happy too. I love the process of coming up with new lesson plans and then I enjoy seeing what my students come up with.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been drawing since I was able to hold a crayon. Everyone in school knew me as the artist. I was voted most artistic in high school but I didn’t really believe in myself and had no idea what I would do with my artistic abilities. Once I was in junior college, Mr. Williams directed me towards Illustration and he was a great cheerleader in encouraging me to go on to get my degree at an art college. I graduated from Art Center College of Design with honors and BFA. I eventually illustrated children’s books and taught art. Different Just Like Me was my first book that I wrote and illustrated and I even appeared on the Oprah show with that book. Being an artist is not an easy path. There are ups and downs. I have formed close friendships with many different artists and that’s what uplifts me and inspires me along the way. I am now doing more work for galleries and it’s a constant learning experience.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Diego has got some of the most interesting places to go. There are plenty of tourist spots and places to impress guests but my favorite are the local coffee shops. My husband and I used to go find a new coffee shop every weekend. He would order his coffee and read and I would order chai latte and sketch. That’s pretty close to heaven for me. We tried places in the Gaslamp, down by the beach, out in Ramona, up in Escondido; you name it. We haven’t had to go to the same place twice and we have been doing it for quite some time. I say I am on a quest to find the perfect chai latte but it’s really just a good excuse to hang out with my husband, get some much loved sketching in and have some good down time. I have these sketches documented on my Instagram page. @Lorimitchellart
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is such a great question and I am happy to say there have been so many wonderful people in my life that have led the way. My mom, my daughter and my teachers come to mind right away. Even my students teach me and inspire me so much. If I had to pick just one I would say Mr. Bill Williams. He was my junior college art teacher. He made a huge impression on me and my career. I moved away from home and went to junior college in Stockton, CA. Mr. Williams was always encouraging about my artwork. I didn’t have faith in myself when I started, but he changed that. He told me I should apply for the illustration job with the local paper. One problem, I didn’t have a portfolio to show. He told me to bring in all of my artwork. I gathered up all my work into a big garbage bag and brought it to his class. He told me to leave it and come back the next day. The following day I arrived to find a complete portfolio of artwork. He had matted every piece that he thought would get me the job. He also set up the interview. I went in and got the job. He had faith in me so I could have faith in myself. I am an illustrator today because of him.
Other: This is my site for the book Different Just Like Me https://www.differentjustlikeme.com/