Today's motivation is brought to you by Fitness Coach and mother, Gina Lombardi. She gets her inspiration from her son, as well as cartoons that span the past half century. Her work can be seen displayed on her son's brown bag lunches. You can find more of Gina's work on Instagram and learn more about her on her website and Twitter.
Tell me a little bit about your background... Who you are; what made you interested in art?
Originally from Philadelphia, I moved to Los Angeles when I was 26 years old with a degree in Dental Hygiene & Health Science. 8 years later I changed careers and became a Strength & Conditioning Coach for celebrities, particularly actors and musicians. In addition to that, I started hosting television shows (created & Hosted a show for Discovery Channel called FITNATION) and doing live news segments as a fitness expert. Suddenly I was busier than ever and I had put my music and art on hold for many years. Growing up I always loved drawing and giving my art to friends as a gift. I felt that a gift made by hand and from the heart was extra special. To spend time creating something unique for someone was, in my opinion, time well spent. Oh and by the way, I’ve never had a formal lesson (often it shows).
Who are your current art inspirations and how do they affect your artistic process?
First….My 12 year old son, Gunnar Sizemore, is my inspiration. The love you have for your child is so great that you literally would do anything for him. He is an actor and Voiceover Artist. Since I spend time with him at his recording sessions in places such as Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Cartoon Network, etc., I found myself really loving cartoons and the painstaking effort that these artists have to endure to make them move on the screen. I have been fortunate enough to see how these shows are made. I would never compare myself to them or even call myself an “artist” but it inspired me to start sketching. I wanted to do something for Gunnar so i figured drawing some of his favorite cartoon characters (and sometimes ones that he voices- SEE BILLY BILLIONS from the series Ben10) on his snack bags would be fun and a nice surprise for him everyday.
Secondly, my “art” inspirations started when I was a kid growing up in the 60’s. People like Charles M. Shulz (Charlie Brown), Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny) & Dr. Suess were amazing cartoonists. As technology evolved and graphic arts got better and better people like Matt Groening (the Simpsons, Futurama) continued the legacy. Today I really love the craziness of shows like The Regular Show (Calvin Wong - storyboard artist). Those are my cartoon inspirations. On an entire other level would be Greg Simkins, otherwise known as CRAOLA. Not only a fantastic person, but a true living legend. When I watch him work I see all the layers of perfection he creates. Makes me realize how much I DON’T know! Oh and did I mention, I have NEVER had a lesson in my life. (visit Craola at www.imscared.com to witness genius with a brush).
Why do you prefer to work on snack bags?
The snack bags chose me. I wanted to do something for Gunnar and those imperfect brown paper bags were…well…perfect. Except for a few little things…using colored pencils on brown paper can be difficult at times. Some colors change when laid down on a brown base. So, I had to experiment with different brands of pencils to find ones that were true to color. Also, the bags are only even and smooth down the center as a 2 inch wide strip. The rest has an unforgiving pattern. You can see the imperfections when you run a colored pencil over it, it leaves empty spots where the color can not get into. Frustrating but also charming. Perhaps I need lessons :)
What are your thoughts on the art community in your area?
The art community in Los Angeles is impressive and abundant on the professional level. On an amateur level, there are art lessons on every corner. Did I mention I could really use a lesson or two? Sadly, the public schools have cut many of the arts programs. Fortunately, Gunnar goes to a private school where art is an integral part of their learning. Did I mention I could really use a lesson or two?
How did your son change your life, both personally/professionally and as an artist?
My son IS, in my opinion, my greatest achievement and I think my husband will agree with me. He truly makes me want to be a better person. His creativity is off the charts and it so incredibly fun on a daily basis. Very often I will ask him what I should draw or what cartoon series he is into right now and it will inspire my snack bags. Since I am not a professional artist, I struggle sometimes with my sketches and the tools I’m using. Too many holes in my knowledge. So it's sort of a “ learning on the job” kind of a thing. I often message other lunchtime artists and ask questions like “what kind of pencils do you use” or “how do make your characters jump off the page like that?!” or “I erase a lot, Is that normal?" I’m sure to them, these questions are pedestrian. But to me, their answers are bite size pieces of gold that I can use on my next sketch!
One of my clients is a character on Spongebob. He has seen many of my snack bags and actually showed my bag featuring PLANKTON (bag #122) from the show to the actual artist who draws it!! I was so embarrassed for him to see my amateur fan art. Lo and behold, he actually came back with a nice compliment. He said it was the best fan art he had seen and was particularly impressed with the colors, knowing that I was working a brown paper bag!!
Again…not ONE lesson.
How have they been involved in your art?
Like I mentioned earlier, Gunnar often gives me ideas for what I should do next on the bags. But I usually choose which character I will start with and end with. I usually choose an animated series or animated movie and pick out his favorite characters from that to draw. Very often I will ask him to take a look at my half-finished art and give me corrections because he has such a good eye for symmetry and details. I ERASE ALOT (see Woody Woodpecker bag. I erased his beak about 15 times). Sometimes I am so unhappy with the bag I’ve drawn that it ends up in the “lost bags” file. If you notice, I number each bag and in my early posts on Instagram you’ll se there are a few numbered bags missing. Those didn’t make the cut. Every now and then I am proud of my snack bag drawings (Beauty and The Beast). Then there is that ONE you didn’t expect anyone to like and it gets the most accolades (Scooby-Do).
Yesterday I did my 200th bag! I have to say, I found that 198 of them were very relaxing to draw and I consider them my way of escaping the problems of the day.
How has your background as an artist affected your son? Do you think having an artist mom helps inspire his creativity?
I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in my “spot” to draw only to see Gunnar sit across from me and start drawing on his own. This makes me so happy! He is actually better at it than I am. For the last several months, he has come home from school with sketches that he did when he had finished his class work and had extra time to do anything he wanted. He chose art.
Thank you so much, Luke, for wanting to hear my story. Art will forever be a big part in my life and my son’s life.
No, no, Gina. I would like to thank YOU for taking the time to participate in this interview.
More importantly, I would like to thank Gina for using her artistic abilities to make a difference in her son's life. Don't forget to show her some love on Instagram.
Is there a parent who is an artist you know who could provide us some Monday motivation? If so, please send their name and a link to their work (or social media account) to LunchNoteSketch@gmail.com, or tag them in any Monday motivation post on any of the Lunch Note Sketch social media pages. I would love to feature him/her.