Moomah the Magazine
Meet Young Artist: Lisel Ballmer

Meet Young Artist: Lisel Ballmer

- By Lisel Ashlock

Lisel is a name that is not shared by too many people. The first day of school was always torture as the teacher was bound to mispronounce it during roll-call. Lisa? No. Lysol? No. Lizelle? NO! LISEL! I've never crossed paths with another Lisel until a few months ago when my own name appeared in my email inbox! Was I sending myself emails? Confused, I read the subject line: "Another artistic person with my exact name!?" It didn't take long to realize it wasn't from myself at all, but from 13 year old artist Lisel Ballmer, who just happened to come across my website after looking up her own name online.

As it turns out, Ms. Ballmer is an accomplished artist, and we had much in common (aside from sharing our very unique name). She shared her work with me and I could not believe how talented and professional this young Lisel was. She even has her own website! A correspondence began between the two Lisels, old and young. We learned of how we're both from California, we both love Japan, and we both appreciate our interesting name! Lisel B. describes it best "I love being extra-special with my interesting name. People say that my name matches my interesting personality. The name Lisa, in my opinion, doesn't have as good a ring to it as Lisel does." Agreed! Here is what she has to say about how she got herself started.

"In the summer of 2009 I got some clay from my Mom and I started making little animals. Then I ran out of clay, and so I went back to the art store to buy some more. I continued to make some more little animals. My family loved them! I ran out of clay again and so I went back to the art store a second time. I made some more little animals. My friends loved them too! So I started making them for my friends and family. By this point I was calling them Clay Critters and I was visiting the art store to buy clay just about every day. Now, people ask me to make Clay Critters all the time, so my Dad helped me set up this website so anyone could order a Clay Critter or two. I started thinking "wouldn't it be great if you could eat Clay Critters?" and BAM! Cake Critters were born. Now you can have a cupcake with a Critter on top that you can eat!"

During our correspondence, Lisel and I talked a lot about what it's like to be a creative person. We talked about our artistic process and commiserated about getting "artist's block".  After answering some questions she had for me about what it's like to earn a living as an artist, it was time to turn the table. Meet Lisel Ballmer, this month's Moomah Young Artist!

1. We just love your little animals! What was the very first animal you made and why?

My first little clay critter was a puppy dog. I believed starting with a basic animal would help me decide on how my animals would look, that's why he looks a bit different compared to my other dogs and animals.

2. Do you have some favorite animals?

My favorite animals in real life are bunny rabbits (I have one named Harley), jelly fish, otters, any small furry mammal. And any type of seal. Truthfully I love any adorable animal.

3. Sometimes we can get really frustrated when a drawing isn't going as planned. When you first started making clay creatures did you get frustrated when they didn't come out exactly as you pictured?

I sometimes felt like they weren't good enough to give to my friends and family. I thought my rounds balls of clay didn't look enough like the real animals. That is what frustrated me the most. I then tired sculpting the ball of clay instead of just rolling it. I formed all my critters by hand, which meant my nail would make marks in the body of the animal! To solve this problem, I tried different methods of rolling the body to a sphere with out using my fingers.

4. If you could use your artwork to raise money for a charity, which one would it be?

I would like to create clay critter sized kimonos to sell to help raise money for Japan after the earthquake. My school has a sister city in Japan, I went there in the summer! I love Japan with all my heart and feel horrible for what happened.

5. Do you have any advice for young artists just starting to explore their craft?

Don't be afraid to try something new. My mom gave me clay and at first I was totally bored by looking at the neutral tones she had given me. However, my babysitter at the time told me to create animals! I was so amazed by the basic idea! Always remember that it is okay to be open and ask for inspiration in the beginning.

6. Aside from clay, do you experiment with other mediums (drawing, painting, photography, writing, etc)?

Every day I look somewhere and find inspiration, I could never settle down for one medium! Right now I am into painting with water color and Chibli anime.

7. You strike us as a pretty savvy little lady, with your own business up at running at age 11. What do you want to be when you "grow up"?

I love chemistry and managing a business. I want to work in either the science or business field when I grow up. However I have a cousin who wants to be a writer and and an illustrator sounds fun!


Posted in: Animal Kingdom   Discover & Learn   

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Recent Comments

Linda Hollander said…

I love reading articles about young artists and Lisel, you are definitely one of them! Don’t ever think your creations are not good enough. I used to think that when I was younger,  and only now (at 38) do I have the confidence to share my art. I love what you do and being an illustrator is definitely something you can do, too. Be proud and share your art as often as you can, I’m sure all Moomah the Magazine readers will one day say: Lisel Ballmer? Oh yeah, I knew who she was BEFORE she became a world renowed artist!

Wishing you all the best from the Netherlands (see, you are already known around the globe smile !

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