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Playful art without restrictions

I grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, just a few minutes away from the Currier Museum of Art and their partner school. Both of my parents worked full time. My mother was a lawyer and would occasionally take me to work with her. Every time I tagged along we would stop at the local art store – my mom would let me pick something out to keep me busy while she worked. She would let me hang out in her conference room with my cool new art kit, or coloring book, or clay, and make stuff all day while she met with clients. She says that it was incredibly easy to go to work with me in tow because I would get completely absorbed in my artmaking.

In the summers, I was lucky enough to take one or two classes at the Currier’s museum school. I was always nervous to venture outside of the painting realm in college, but when I was in grade school, I was adventurous. I took mosaic classes, jewelry making classes, photography, ceramics, and my very first abstract painting class. When it came time to look at colleges it was an easy choice – I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and was absolutely thrilled to receive my acceptance letter. I immediately gravitated toward color theory in art school, a dominant structural foundation for my work throughout undergrad.

During my time at MassArt, I honed my knowledge and practice of color theory. I was fascinated by artists who used color in a straightforward way. Female painters like Bridget Riley and Helen Frankenthaler had a huge impact on my perception of color and its application. It has always been important to me to articulate color in a sophisticated way. It wasn’t until many years after I graduated that I began to realize that I was limiting myself with my painting techniques. I had built a lot of rules for myself, and although some of those rules helped inform the fingerprint of my work, they ended up feeling like a ball and chain that held me back from exploration and playfulness.

My most recent body of work has been a real investigation of playfulness, mark-making, and viscosity. I am finding new ways of layering the paint and communicating my love of color theory in a way that doesn’t feel harsh. My portfolio has really strengthened as a result, especially with my newfound interest in viscosity variation. I really enjoy using acrylic mediums and working with larger surfaces, often allowing the movement of my body to play a role in my mark-making. I feel a lot more connected to the work as a result.

Instead of creating paintings that are heavily rooted in control and precision, my most recent work has been a lesson in letting go. I am no longer feeling the restrictions that I had placed on myself as a younger painter. My current body of work facilitates the communication of my whole self into the work, which has really made the work a more holistic representation of who I am and how I feel and what I think is most important.

I graduated from MassArt in 2013 and immediately relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I lived and worked for seven years before purchasing my current home and studio in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I’m a painter.

Molly Lastra


Mobile: (603) 391-8277


Instagram: @mollylastrapainting

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