Interview with Lisa Jane Dhar – Studio Noodles

Lisa Jane Dhar is a Welsh fine artist and surface pattern designer, living and working in London. Lisa works in a variety of media with a wide range of applications, from wall art to textile design, packaging and more. With a large selection of playful art prints for children, to abstract pattern designs and striking florals, Lisa’s designs are always full of mellow colour and warmth.

What is your background – did you go to art college for example? 
I didn’t actually go to an art college. I chose to read Psychology at Uni and while I still love the study of human behaviour, I felt a more creative life was calling me. It definitely was a big step in switching careers, which often means putting in extra hours to research and try new methods and materials. While there is perhaps less pay in an art career there is more time to slow down and enjoy the process of work. I truly believe we are all innately creative in our own unique way.

Where did the name Studio Noodles come from?
I didn’t want to start my brand under my birth name, which is the usual norm. I felt I wanted a Studio name that would leave me free to create art in a wide variety of techniques and styles for my clients. The name Studio Noodles stems from my love of noodles (I tend to be a little food driven, nom nom).

You are originally from Wales, do you think this influences your work at all? 
Oh definitely yes! Wales is unbelievably beautiful. The Gower peninsula has the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Rhossili Bay is probably one of the most well known, but Three Cliffs Bay is unbeatable in my opinion. You literally have to cross over the tops of three mountain cliffs and down a cliff to get the beach. It is so remote because of this. The view, the flora and the fauna there are just breathtaking. I think this has deeply influenced my love of botanicals and nature in general. I am most happy barefoot with warm sand between my toes.

Living in London today, does city life find its way into your illustrations at all? 
While I love the diversity and excitement of London, for a country girl it can be a little too much sometimes. I love to be around plants and nature and therefore decided to live on the outskirts rather than in the centre of all that bustle. I think as a result I am even more in awe of the beauty of nature.

Are there any frequent inspirations that appear in your design work?
Oh gosh yes! Botanicals are my most favourite thing to draw.

Do you have any particular favourite medium to work with?
I really love the freedom, looseness and transparency of watercolour. But it does take a lot of patience waiting for all those layers to dry. This is by far my favourite medium. Although I do like to use other media too like gouache, oil pencils, charcoal and pencil. However, I try to be very conscious of what art materials I buy. I am currently testing out some eco acrylic paints made from food safe ingredients and botanical inks made all from plants. Most of my materials are a special blend of natural mineral pigments and are bound together with honey and gum arabic. The fewer the ingredients, in my opinion, the better. I also sometimes use organic makeup in my work too. Most of my paper is made from bamboo, eco-cotton rag or traditional artisan paper.

Florals feature regularly in your designs. How did you start working on Weleda’s botanical designs for the new Christmas gifts? 
Weleda has been a regular client of mine since I worked on their Skin Food 90 Year anniversary celebration in 2016. The artwork was very well received and Weleda approached me several times after that to collaborate again, which is always a pleasure.

One of the recent projects was for the launch of the new Skin Food collection which includes the new Skin Food Light, Skin Food Body Butter and the Skin Food Lip Balm. It was very exciting to work on such an important and hush-hush project for Weleda.

A few months later, I was blessed enough to be asked to work on the 2019 Christmas packaging project. This time it involved painting various butterfly species that often visit the Weleda gardens. Butterflies are very difficult to paint due to their lines of symmetry, intricate patterning and delicate semi-transparent wings. So this project took a little more precision and time, but I am super pleased with the results. The butterfly paintings were combined with my previous Weleda botanicals to create a gorgeous Christmas gift collection!

Whenever I start a project I always begin with researching each subject. This is followed by some quick sketches and some more detailed sketching to get a feel for shape and form. I then tend to paint without any drawing lines, leaving it very free and flowing. Or sometimes if the subject is quite detailed I may draw some rough pencil lines as guides. This was such a beautiful project for a lovely ethical client as well!

It is so easy to get caught in this modern technologically advanced world that we often fail to take the time to notice the little things that are crucially vital for our ecosystem and environment. Even though they are quite small it’s impossible not to notice one of those spectacularly patterned beauties flying by. An encounter with a butterfly may be brief and fleeting, but their passing beauty never fails to capture the heart.

What would you say are your particular strengths or what are you building your reputation around? 
I think one of my strengths is being able to think outside of the box when it comes to working on a new project and being able to make the project hopefully into something that is really great. The goal is always to have a fully satisfied client.

Do organic and fair trade ingredients matter to you, and why? 
Oh my goodness these are so important to me. Fairtrade because I believe that everyone deserves fair treatment and fair pay for work regardless of their location, nationality and colour of their skin. I would rather have less, and make sure the person at the other end was paid and cared for properly, than to buy lots of items cheaply. Some of my favourite brands are People Tree, We Are Thought, Bam Clothing, Carrot Banana Peach and No Balls. I do appreciate it is not always easy to find what you need. But small changes here and there make a huge difference overall.

I also am really passionate about organic farming. But I do understand some companies, even though they are essentially organic, cannot afford to obtain the organic certification. So I try to look into a company’s ethos and practices.

What are your personal Weleda favourites from our range? 
I love the new Skin Food range. Especially the Body Butter and the Skin Food Light. I just adore the Rosemary Revitalising Hair Tonic too. I wish I had an endless supply of these because they are just so fabulous. Weleda soaps are the perfect blend too. They retain their scent and shape for ages making them great for busy households. The White Mallow Face Cream is great for days when my skin is a little sensitive. The Birch Oil is really fantastic too. There are so many products I haven't tried yet but I am slowly working my way through everything! I have never been disappointed by any Weleda product.