‘Renaissance Woman’ Pat Launer adds ‘artist’ to resume
By Marlena Medford
When Del Mar/Carmel Valley resident Pat Launer puts her heart into something, success is seemingly inevitable. She dedicated 20 years to teaching speech pathology at SDSU, a passion that earned her the “most influential faculty member” in her department eight times. She eventually followed her “other passion” and became a full-time theatre critic and, after 25 years, has dozens of awards for her work in print and broadcast, including an Emmy Award for her KPBS show “Center Stage.” And when she decided to give dancing a go as a celebrity contestant in the fundraising gala “Malashock Thinks You Can Dance,” she took home first place.No doubt, Launer is a bona fide Renaissance Woman. It’s fitting, then, that she’s now preparing to make her debut as an artist with her show “Figuratively Speaking: Bodies in Motion and at Rest,” which will open Friday, June 3, at the Mandell Weiss Gallery at Dance Place.
“This [art show] is something new for me, but I’ve always believed you should continually expand your horizons and creative capabilities,” she said, stirring a cup of hot tea, a ring on nearly every finger and her nails painted a brilliant royal purple, her favorite color. “People are shocked because nobody knows this side of me.”
Truth be told, if you informed Launer 10 years ago that one day she’d be opening her own art show, she, too, would have been shocked. She lived most of her life believing she could never be an artist, that is, until she took a one-day workshop based on the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. The teacher began by asking everyone to draw something simple, like a car or a dog, which as Launer recalled “all looked like stick figures by kindergartners.”
“Then the teacher took all our drawings and put them up on the board and said: ‘These are all cases of arrested development. Somewhere along the line someone told you that this doesn’t look like a car or a dog.’”The thought behind that is that the logical left side of the brain inhibits the artistic right side of the brain. The rest of that one-day workshop was spent doing drawing exercises that took the left side of the brain out of the equation. By the end of the day, Launer was able to draw a picture of her of her own hand — not an easy task, even for a skilled artist — which she said was so good it was “frame-able.”
“I couldn’t believe it. That day changed my life.”
Launer said that “ah-ha moment” emboldened her, unshackling her inner artist. She spent the next several years honing her skill through classes and lessons, many of which were taught by Reed Cardwell. She’s now ready to publicly reveal a collection of 40 works, all of which are abstract and stay true to her bold, brilliant style.
“As my teacher always says, ‘draw what you want to see — not what you see.’ That frees you.”
In her artist statement Launer explained that she chose to celebrate the human form in her art show because she’s “always been fascinated by the human body – its limitless variety, flexibility, beauty, complexity and capacity.”
Launer — who also plays the piano, has mastered calligraphy, officiates weddings, and can work a potter’s wheel — said she has no expectations about her art show; she’s just grateful for the experience.
“I’m always trying to expand my horizons and creative capabilities,” she said. “I’ll never master art. Not in a million years. But I want to be able to say I climbed another mountain.”
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