Lucy Woodhouse (b. 1985) uses abstraction to visually reduce her subject matter into stark black and white designs. Drawings in pen of plant life, textile designs and the human figure demonstrate her broad range of interests. Decorative and eccentric, Woodhouse’s artwork comes from a place of deep concentration and attention to patterning and contrast. The daughter of an interior designer and an architect, she naturally gravitates towards design and graphic content for inspiration, while her own frenetic gestural style transforms these themes into a playful interpretation that is truly her own.
Woodhouse is a graduate of the post-secondary program, P.A.C.E. at National-Louis University in Skokie, Illinois, an avid reader, and an accomplished horseback rider. When not in the studio, she often works on drawings at home, usually while listening to music or watching reality TV shows. The artist joined Project Onward in 2010 and lives in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.
Of her work, Woodhouse says: “I’ve learned I can perfect the techniques I have if I stick to the same thing. I like the work I do in color, but not as much as I do the black and white drawing – it works for me. I really like how you can do artwork with just a black pen, and it can still be intricate, or very simple. It’s versatile. With my work, I prefer for people to get their own impressions – that’s why I don’t title my drawings most of the time. One person will have their interpretation, and someone else will have another.
I get a lot of ideas from images in magazines, and I also search on Google Images. For fun, I actually have coloring books at home. Dover brand makes a lot of great coloring books with Modern Art themes or mandalas – I like the ones that are really abstract. I think my interest in art has something to do with my parents. They are complete Modernists, and my work isn’t like that at all, but I think the vision it takes to be a designer or architect – I got that from them.
You don’t have to put all the stuff you do in a category. My work is more about making something simple that can go in anybody’s home, and it’s black and white so it can go well with anything. This goes back to college, actually, where I pretty much had a pen and sketchpad – that was what was available. It all really started at Chamberlain [International School, in Massachusetts]. It was an outlet for me to stop being depressed. It was how I got through those college years. Drawing is calming, but at the same time it’s an outlet for expressing my personality and style. It’s also how I found my space. Before I was drawing, I didn’t have a job or anything. This makes me Me.”