Q&A: Lara Duren, Metro Pulse Gamut Artist

What medium are you using?

These paintings are done with mostly watercolor with some gouache and black ink.

Is there a medium you are afraid of or just won't touch?

Back hair.

Your paintings are very whimsical. Even without the unicorn in "The Virgins of 217" the colors are light and the linework fanciful. How does this reflect your personality?

I am the unicorn.

You're a hair-stylist by day, artist by night—are you ever tempted to go Edward Scissorhands on a client and just give them something crazy and inspiring?

That's what I do, make dreams come true.

I think hair cutting is an art, but my mom who cut my hair in the kitchen until I was 32 never did. What can I tell her to convince her otherwise?

If she didn't put a bowl on your head consider yourself lucky.

What's your favorite color (of hair)?

I want to start a dating service for natural blondes and red heads so they don't go extinct.

"Shiny Surfaces" is a painting of yours that I love. I take it you painted what you saw in a window somewhere? Where and why, tell me immediately.

Last November I was in New York wandering down 5th Avenue—that painting comes from one of the window displays in a department store.

With the synchronized swimmers circling the ghostly visage of Ponce De Leon, what are you trying to say about the fountain of youth and poor old Esther Williams?

We live in a culture obsessed with youth but often the superficial and vain aspects of being young. My little ladies are still sassy in their golden years—kept afloat by vitality not silicon.

Can you tell me more about "Lonely Neighbors"? It's my favorite and someone should purchase it from you right away.

I take cash or check.

When I first moved here I would walk my insane puppy around North Knoxville photographing the quirky little houses. I painted three of these using the tried and true house + random lurking "something" formula.

These lurking somethings included a unicorn, a bear, and a giant green rubber ducky with black devil horns.

Why do you like to paint?

Painting has been a medium of convenience for me now that I don't have a studio and work out of my house.

Are you sad that I've only asked you 11 questions so far?

I'll never forgive you.

Did you study painting formally?

It wasn't my focus in school. I studied ceramics in undergrad and did a lot of sculpture, installation, and video work in graduate school.