Lisa Plefka Haskin. Credit: Linda Horton Photography

Lisa Plefka Haskin is an Evanston artist who creates handmade ornaments, coasters, journaling books, stencils and collages.

Haskin says, “I’m a maker.” She enjoys staying very busy creating things and typically has multiple works under development at any given moment. Her work is inspired by living in Evanston. She walks along the lake and through the many wonderful neighborhoods. As she walks, she always sees new things that inspire her, whether it be an architectural detail or flowers and plants. These will show up later in her work.

Her collages are mixed media “art on the wall.” These works are developed with layers of varying patterns, papers and marks. In her current collages, the layers are pulled together with a foreground floral image. Each piece has a lovely, busy cohesiveness.

Haskin does graphic design freelance work from her home, and her art studio is in the spare bedroom of her home, so you might find her in the studio at almost any time day or night. She occasionally finds herself in the studio at 11 p.m. in her pajamas because an idea has hit her, and she needs to capture it right away! 

Some collage materials organized and stored. Credit: Lisa Plefka Haskin

The studio is filled with many items, all of which make her feel happy. On the walls are photographs, art by friends or herself and posters. She also has a type case, and a “silly” bulletin board. Love, inspiration and smiles are the words Haskin uses to describe the space. 

When she walks into her studio, she sees many piles of materials because by design there is a lot going on as she moves back and forth between in-process works. Though the area is crammed full, she knows exactly where everything is located. 

Making a collage requires a large reserve of base materials from which to pick. For Haskin, her “collage fodder” is built from items she collects and creates in her relaxation time. They might be painted, drawn on or stamped as part of her creative process.

Fodder might include, among many other things:

  • Dictionary pages which she has drawn on.
  • Book pages.
  • Tissue with a design.
  • Stained tea bags.
  • Textured mono prints.
Almost any scrap of paper can become collage materials that may be embellished with a multitude of patterns and textures . Credit: Lisa Plefka Haskin

When she starts a new collage, Haskin has a basic concept in mind. She usually follows it for a few pieces but moves on to a new idea frequently. The concept might be an image, like a sunflower created on the collage, or it might be a texture that she will entwine with an image. 

She first collects fodder and begins to attach items, layering a collage background on a rigid backboard. She glues, paints, stamps and adds marks, layer after layer, until she recognizes the “point.” 

Typically, the layers are completed over many sittings, including being added to randomly when Haskin just happens to walk by a partially completed piece and is inspired in the moment. A piece can be applied here and there until she sees that “point.” At that point (!), the background is finished. 

Next, she decides what to exactly draw or paint on the background that is within her original concept. Once decided, Haskin sketches the image. Materials she then uses to create the final image might include watercolor pencil that she can smear, acrylic paint, paint markers for marks and motion, and splatter paint. 

Handmade items great for gifts. Credit: Lisa Plefka Haskin

When the image is complete, she will apply a light fixative spray to hold any water-soluble marks. Haskin takes the work outside for this step, to minimize breathing the offensive spray. Back indoors, she brushes on a protective sealant or medium to make the work durable. After attaching a hook to the back and painting the sides so a frame does not need to be added by the buyer, the piece is complete. 

She posts photographs of the finished artworks on Shop Evanston Made where the public can see and purchase her work. Haskin warns that if you like a certain type of art you see, get it then, as she will most likely have moved on to another concept before your next visit.

In addition to visiting Shop Evanston Made, you can learn more about Lisa Plefka Haskin at her Evanston Made Portfolio page or at her Etsy page.

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.