Oil painter Lisa Bartell finds whimsical animal and human forms in the textures and colors she creates on her canvas. Visit her website to see more of her work.
Taking the path of an artist seemed an obvious choice. My mind was always in another world. The top branches of a tree became my spiral staircase to a glamorous ballroom, the clouds a place where I had a picnic with my boxer dog Mandy.
My mother always engaged me with a variety of art materials and projects. She enrolled me in Saturday art classes and supported my decision to attend art school. My biggest inspiration remains a high school art teacher who gave weekly drawing assignments and praised my artistic skills. This is the power of a good teacher. After receiving a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts, I worked as a designer, illustrator and portrait artist. Years later, major life changing events focused my attention on oil painting as an expression of self.
I became aware that so much of my life and identity was based on false perceptions of my internal reality. Since this time, the inspiration behind my work has been the ongoing transformation of our personal perceptions of who we are.
My painting process is a return to my childhood habit of staring at wood grain and discovering odd faces. I begin by partially covering the canvas with black paint.
Using a variety of brush textures and sizes, I start blending the paint into organic lines and shapes which at first seem nebulous. A lot of focused staring at these forms begins the discovery of whimsical human and animal figures. I search for recognizable yet imaginary forms that challenge the norm of what is real.
Having a strong concept in mind and secret symbols is the only indication in my mind where a painting might be headed. I’m not a fast painter. Colors are layered and blended, images I wanted to keep are eliminated, patterns and texture are added by running a toothpick through wet paint.
I often turn the canvas upside down while painting. This is a great way to make sure the composition is working.
The completed figures are strange and displaced characters often living among what I endearingly call “majestic beasts.” They are an intermingled cast of characters creating a personal story of what is real. My goal is the creation of a colorful menagerie placed within an abstracted background which can always be reinterpreted.
My most current painting is “The Queen of Catland.” This is the first of a new series titled “Masquerade.” Because the mask is an ancient and universal symbol of identity, I thought it an interesting way to continue the expression of self identity.
The process of painting is what keeps me grounded and provides a feeling of contributing to the world. I like to believe that there is a higher Creative Energy which I can be a part of.
Artist Lisa Bartell invites you to follow her on Facebook.
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