Life is nothing if not an urge to understand. To understand the mysteries, patterns, and intricacies of life from the micro to the macro. Sonny Lipps’ art and technique exemplify this primal urge. Buzzing and bubbling particulates contrast with symbolic cosmic imagery as he pastes his imagination onto his chosen surface, and within every stroke of his brush, is an undeniable truth. His modus operandi, though creative at the core, is as analytical as the scientific method: observe, question, conclude.
For Sonny Lipps, inspiration comes from the varied landscapes that have always surrounded him. He has lived in Southern California for most of his life, primarily in the greater Los Angeles area. In such an area, he has had access to landscapes, from natural/rural to suburban/urban to social/political in which to study and draw influence from. As a child growing into adolescence, he was hyper-observant of his encompassing world, from the jazz, blues, and rock music his parents were listening to, to science and natural phenomenon like meteorology, geology, and astronomy, to his outdoor playground of canyons, mountains, and the coast. In his early youth, Lipps demonstrated a talent for crafts and model building, winning ribbons in competitions and reflecting his instinct to build and create. Additionally, he was obsessed with reading fantasy, sci-fi, and horror books, an indication of an inherent creative mind. While he pursued these as hobbies, he began to be drawn more ambitiously to the mysterious world of science and nature. He was fascinated by naturally occurring minerals and collected them, studying their texture and look. He would observe trees and plants and memorize their genus, species, and names. Living in a suburban/semi-rural community north of downtown, Lipps often found himself drawn to the pockets of nature dispersed throughout the valleys of Southern California. Despite very little exposure to visual art during his childhood, these frequent ventures to the natural and undisturbed combined with a profound gift of observation and imagination can be interpreted as his first artistic impulses.
These impulses served as a beacon as he made life decisions, going on to earn a BA in Earth Science in 1986, although still without having given formal art any serious consideration. During his last few years of college, he learned the trade of wood refinishing, and after graduation continued working in his trade as a contractor, carving out a path of self employment. Then, in the early 1990’s, with the resurgence of the custom interior design painting trend, Mr. Lipps was forced to hire artists to handle projects such as trompe l’oeil, textured effects, and hand painted furniture. In observing his artist employees, he learned a number of fine art techniques that form the basis of his unique style, and was inspired to try creating his own work. Principle among these artists was Seattle based muralist Keith Leaman, who exposed Lipps to lowbrow art, such as Robert Williams and inspired him to self-discover artists like Miro, Pollock, and O’Keefe, all of whom still influence his work.
Originally experimenting with textured fresco painting and crude collages (most of which are lost or destroyed), Mr. Lipps developed his own style in the mid-90's. For three years in the late 90’s, Lipps tore away from his Southern California roots and sojourned to Nashville, Tennessee. With the change of scenery and some formal drawing study at the Watkins Institute, he progressed to another level and had a flurry of production. His work moved towards more refined techniques, mostly free-form brush work on surfaces such as canvas and smooth panels and became more organic in subject matter. This pace continued upon return to Southern California and lasted another two years before his twelve year hiatus to focus on his family and re-modeling their Craftsman bungalow in Los Angeles.
In early 2014, Lipps returned to his painting and produced four new works. In September of that year, he combined these four with 35 pre-hiatus works and exhibited them in a solo show to launch his renewed enthusiasm and vision for his art career. Since then, he has produced a steady amount of art and is experimenting with a variety of mediums and subjects, while remaining true to his style, palette, and overall philosophy: the Laws of Nature. In this current period, Lipps’ art has received notoriety and exposure with acceptance to various juried shows and art organizations, blog articles, and a solo show in 2018.
“I pay attention to the world around me and think and look in the abstract. My work is a statement about the beauty, wonder, nuances and order of nature while also about connecting to the primal/subconscious thread present in all humans. It is contemplation on the meaning of life, of nature and earth and our primal connection.”
Sonny currently spends his time creating work in Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Arizona. Download resume.
My work is composed of earthy abstractions that take our natural world and turn it into something intricate and expansive. I reveal the magnified complexity of biological, physical, and social processes through bold and vivid use of color. Free flowing shapes echo the wild and complex patterns of nature, revealing a comparison between the micro and the macro, primal and contemporary, the scientific and spiritual.
I pay attention to the world around me and think and look in the abstract. My work is a statement about the beauty, wonder, nuances and order of nature while also about connecting to the primal/subconscious thread present in all humans. It is contemplation on the meaning of life, of nature and earth and our primal connection. With a background in earth science, deep wonder of the miracles of life, love of house and garden, and strong interest in socio-political events; I describe my work as punctuated with themes of nature, reproductive sexuality, science-fiction, architecture, and human intrigue all conjoined in the process of natural design.
I start with an idea, a simple composition and color scheme, and then build up my work incrementally, developing more ideas as I proceed. Process is important to my work. My style while modern in abstraction is also contemporary in its use of color, texture, form and line. Elements from Henri Matisse, Henri Rousseau, Joan Miro, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock, and David Hockney influence my work as does contemporary street artist Sabo for his originality, attitude and courage.