The Illustrative Art
of Laura Dozor
by Barbara Rizza Mellin ~ The Middlesex Beat ~ June 2003
Letters dance across the computer screen — literally, thanks to the imagination and computer skills of Belmont's Laura Dozor, Artist and Independent Graphic Designer. Dozor has created an animated alphabet in which a row of stick figures all start in one position and, within three or four synchronized moves, form letters. The sequence resembles a movement class in which the members shape themselves into words. Dozor's passion for the art of animation is evident, as she lights up when describing her latest projects or invites you to view a newly created animation on her laptop. In one work, she has taken a simple watercolor painting of fish and seaweed and animated the scene: fish swim among the plants, which react to their motion in a brief digital video that resembles a short story without words.
The original watercolor for this creation is one of several from a series Dozor calls FishSalad. The inspiration for this series, created in the early nineties, came from sitting outside along the waters edge watching leaves in the wind and fish in the water. She says, "I was struck by the similar interaction of color and movement in both subjects." The result is a succession of watercolors that blend leaves, fish, implied motion and delicate color. Reflecting her graphic desigin background and penchant for illustration, the images are tightly controlled, yet whimsical. While they are not tessellations, in some cases they resemble the intricate play of patterns and transformation of MC Escher. Dozor wanted the white space around these watercolors to be an integral part of the compositions, but felt that simply leaving an unadorned border was not the answer. Instead, she adds embossing or cut-out-leaf shapes to the perimeter - something that could not be created with paint and adds subtly to the composition.
Fish, food, and bugs are the three themes that dominate her paintings. Following the Fish Salad series, Dozor turned her attention to painting food in a series she calls simply Edibles. Her most recent efforts, however, are portraits of insects, some realistic, others purposefully ridiculous. While the Fish Salad paintings are watercolor, the Edibles are done in oil, and the Insect Portraits are in both media.
On one large (36" x 48") canvas the top of a pineapple sits slightly off-center. Its green fonds and orange-accented yellow fruit appear boldly graphic against the solid, flat blue background, despite the analogous color combination. This work is one of Dozor's Edible series, which also includes an artichoke, slightly textured strawberries, a single, red chili pepper and several pieces of sushi. The scale of the pictures, imposing and attention-getting, gives the erstwhile simple food a monumental quality. Dozor explains that the series evolved out of her brief studio stay at Emerson Umbrella in Concord last year. Her busy graphic design schedule left only evenings in which to paint. With limited time, she got into the habit of stopping at the grocery store on her way to the studio. There, she would consistently be inspired with the beauty and variety of the fresh produce. Inevitably she would purchase something at the grocery, not to eat, but to paint.
"The compositional aspect of the painting is a physical process," she says. First, she places the item on a neutral background and plays with the lighting, until she "see something I like happening."
Then, using two L-shaped boards, she determines the edges of the picture by manipulating the possible croppings. Once Dozor is satisfied with the arrangement and the lighting effects, she sketches the still life on paper. ("You'd be surprised," she says, "at how quickly food atrophies when left out under hot lights.") Selecting her canvas from a wide variety of sizes she likes to keep on hand, Dozor works with one she thinks suits the composition and finally begins painting.
Although she often considers trying new techniques or imitating the styles of history's great artists, she admits that she is "compelled to make it illustrative."
In her latest series, Insect Portraits, Dozor paints small bugs in a big way. In one comical interpretation, a winged insect with a quizzical expression on it's face looks directly at the viewer. A barelly curved, yellow stripe covers the bottom of the canvas. Dozor calls this work, "Fruit Fly on Banana Landscape." When asked why she chose insects as her subject, she matter-of-factly explains that after fruit, "bugs ar the next step in the life form." Furthermore, she is fascinated by the fact that they are "intricate and complex." Eventually, says Dozor, she may move in to flowers and then humans. For the time being, however, she has friends sending her bugs, some "large, decaying and smelly." The paintings in this series range from a large black beetle that fills the canvas to a smaller pair of delicate dragonflies with intricately detailed wings.
For 12 years, she has run Dozor Design & Illustion as an independent graphic desiginer. As such, Dozor is always creating art with the client's needs in mind. She usually works with local software companies and small start-ups creating everything from printed materials to corporate identities. She begins by talking to clients to see how they wish to be perceived and to hear their ideas. A brainstorming session follows, and finally Dozor creates images, logos and designs that the client considers. While she loves her chosen profession, she says "you're always solving other people's problems and meeting their needs. The beauty of painting is that I can focus on my own ideas."
Her ideas range from animated letters to flying insects and her art, whether a large scale pineapple or a diminutive dragonfly is always illustrative and imaginative.