Life is messy. Life is beautiful. It’s colorful, overwhelming, inspiring and heartbreaking. But 27-year-old Lauren Marie Breaux can’t help but to paint it in all of its confusing glory. While living in the most magical place in the world, she captures real life moments in the way she sees color. If you frequent the French Quarter, you might have just caught a glimpse of her handing out flowers and good vibes throughout New Orleans. Recently, the Louisiana native gave DIME a slice of the inspiration behind her work.
COURTNEY CREEL: Have you always been a creative person? Was there a point in your life where you knew you wanted to be an artist?
LAUREN MARIE BREAUX: I definitely feel I have always been a creative person. Creating is my passion, without question. It was never really a choice to be an artist. It was a calling. I would forever feel incomplete if I didn’t pursue art.
CC: Anyone looking at your artwork can feel New Orleans’ influence. How do you think your artwork would differ if you lived in a different part of the country?
LMB: If I lived elsewhere, I am sure my art would be different, but in what way is hard to say. New Orleans encourages you to be free, colorful and different — to be the most vivid version of you. That isn’t to say that other cities aren’t inspiring, but for me, New Orleans helped give me the courage to dream big and pursue my art without looking back.
CC: You’ve mentioned that you feel New Orleans is a living entity. Explain your thoughts behind that.
LMB: I honestly could rant all day about the beauty and living entity that is New Orleans. She is my best friend, my inspiration and the place I feel most at home. There is a magic about this city that is absolutely undeniable. She can break you, but she can also show you how you need to grow.
CC: Being an artist is hard. How do you stay inspired?
LMB: The people around me are my biggest inspirations. My friends inspire me by being the amazing humans that they are and always giving me amazing subjects to paint. People’s faces when they see themselves painted for the first time is a great inspiration. Making people feel through the art that I create keeps me going.
CC: I noticed the abundant photos of cemeteries on your Instagram. Do you hang out with the departed often?
LMB: There is something special about the architecture of cemeteries and the time spent erecting and keeping up these monuments to the deceased, plus there’s magic that always lingers in the cemeteries. Enjoying my morning coffee while strolling through the nearest cemetery is one of my favorite ways to begin the day.
CC: Where do you go when you need a break from everything? What is your escape?
LMB: When I am in need of a break from the actual act of painting, long strolls and sometimes good company is all I need to feel refreshed. If I need a break from all of it, my best friend and partner lives in Florida and nothing can make me feel more inspired to return to the grind like a few days paddling around natural springs in northern Florida.
CC: If I were to pop into your studio unannounced, what would I see/hear/experience?
LMB: Well, fortunately for me, my current home allows me to have an in-home studio, even if it does mean completely sacrificing a living room. Were you to show up on my porch unannounced you would probably enter my studio to find a giant cloud of incense and cigarette smoke, countless half empty coffee cups, two cats lazily observing, and on most days my roommate and good friend Sam deep in some ‘what if’ tangent of a conversation, keeping me more than entertained while I paint. All of this cramped into one far too small room of a probably too small shotgun home. To me, it’s perfect though.
CC: What is your main goal when you set out to complete a piece? Do you ever build on older pieces?
LMB: My main goal is simply to be proud of the piece. I have to ask myself things like, ‘did you capture their spirit?’ ‘did you do the best you could possibly do?’ ‘Will this make the subject of the painting feel something? Will others who see it feel something?’ ‘Are you proud of this?’
On a rare occasion, I’ll put a painting away to return to many months later, but for the most part, when it’s done, it’s done.
CC: You mentioned that you’ve moved a fair share in your lifetime. Has that influenced your art style?
LMB: I don’t think moving around often directly influences my art style. I do think moving when I was younger helped me grow into a more open-minded person, and in many ways that affects my art.
CC: Who are your favorite artists (musical, artistic, culinary, whatever)?
LMB: Picking a favorite artist is like picking a favorite color — it changes by the minute. All creators are my favorite, because they’re out there… doing the thing, putting themselves out there. I have always said there are three musicians I respect the most, though: Tom Waits, Devendra Banhart and Hank Williams (the first, of course).
CC: What bands/musicians have you been listening to lately?
LMB: Surf Rock and The Coasters typically keep me going.
CC: What is one thing you can’t live without?
LMB: My lifers — those people in your life you know are meant to be there.
CC: Can you tell me about your tattoos?
LMB: I have 8-ish tattoos. I say ‘ish’ because I feel like every individual tiny doesn’t get to be its own entity. I designed and drew all of them but one. (It was a magnolia cover up for this little star I got when I was 16… you know when being a scene kid was real cool). I have two favorites: the first are these dots I have on my wrist area. Each one is a different color and signifies a different lifer who has the same dot in the same color. The second would be the word written inside my hands. It simply says ‘infinite’ facing outward. I just love the word. It’s one of those things I like to remind others of — we’re infinite, your dreams are infinite, what you’re capable of is infinite — which is why I got them facing outward rather than towards me.
CC: I noticed that you have photos on your Instagram that later show up as artwork. Do you paint all of your pieces from photos? What are the pros/cons to creating from a photo?
LMB: When painting people, I work from photographs. Sometimes it takes more than one reference photo to properly capture someone. Often my paintings end up being a blend of a handful of pictures I’ve taken. I haven’t found many cons to painting from photos — maybe getting too obsessed with recreating the photo and not creating an art piece.
CC: What are you hoping to see in your future?
LMB: I plan and hope to continue painting and creating. I love putting beauty out in the world, and fortunately for me I can do that through works of art. Honestly, if I’m spending all of my days doing that, I’ll be more than happy.
To contact Breaux for a commission piece or information, visit her website, laurenmarieart.com, or DM her on Instagram, @honeysucklemarie.