Lisa is a painter specializing in large format abstract impressionism. For her, abstraction means transcending the subject of her work, representing its essence, and reflecting the emotional responses triggered by natural forms, colour and light. These impressions allow the viewer to take ownership and engage with their own experiences, half forgotten memories and desires, to create meaning and complete these works. She is influenced by landscapes, seascapes, botanical themes, and the elemental forces within. Her style is born from a life shaped in wild, beautiful places and her studio space is in Ashgrove, Brisbane. Lisa continually explores the surrounding environment from upper NSW, country Queensland to the Sunshine Coast and hinterland, for the nuances and perspectives that inspire new paintings.
She works primarily in mixed media on canvas, using paint, glazes, gold leaf and charcoal linework. She creates rich yet ambiguous detail through brushstroke, form, and the natural flow of paint on canvas. These sit within the depth and space created by repeated layering, by finishes ranging from matte to pearlescent to gold leaf, and by the courage of restrained composition.
Through these process and techniques she captures the particular yet ever changing qualities of our light and landscape.
“I am driven to paint. The process for me is emotional, cathartic, and sharing. I love the feedback I get, of the joy that my paintings give people on a day to day basis. My work is held by collectors nationally and internationally, from Asia Pacific to the United States and Europe. I have strong followings in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as Brisbane,” she says.
She has forthcoming solo shows in Melbourne and Canberra in the second half of 2022 as well as gallery representation. She regularly exhibits through group shows such as Saatchi Art Fair in both Sydney and Melbourne. She produces many works on commission through word of mouth and repeat collectors. She has been exhibiting since 2004 and is a professional artist since 2012. She studied and has qualification in art and design. Her work is occasionally published in Interior and Architecture magazines. Her works have been finalists in many shows over the years, most recently the National Capital Art prize in 2022.
What’s your artistic background?
I have had a passion for drawing and painting ever since I was a child. In senior school I was lucky enough to have an art teacher who really supported and inspired me by telling me I had talent and giving me confidence in my work. He even entered a painting of mine in an art award without telling me – and I won!
I went on to receive formal training in Visual Art and Design, majoring in painting in Nelson New Zealand. Student life as an artist is just like any other, learning from skilled professionals is a really great for moving on to your own career, but meeting like-minded students and seeing the breadth of their talent and ideas is also important.
I have always felt my artistic talent and vision is something that I was graced with when I was born. I have embraced and believed in it ever since.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Commitment, passion, love. The desire to keep on painting. Showing up for yourself everyday. Consistency is still magic.
I can’t tell you the true and honest compassion, love, sweat, years of sacrifice and the pieces of yourself that go into each work. My works are translations of my own emotion, joy and outlook that I am driven to record and share with others.
I find inspiration daily. It can be resonating from anything – people walking past looking the way they want, the mixed colours of the sun saying good night, my children’s faces when they arrive home from school each day. I believe honest clarity and brushstrokes filled with meaningful thoughts are the key to a great piece of art.
What role does the artist have in society?
Art and its variety of expression is a movement of free speech and self-belief. The role varies according to the practitioner – from absurdity to escapism, to political commentary and statements on human rights. The role of art is therefore a format for that person’s contribution to society. For me, mine is to provide canvases of physical and emotional depth that don’t just hang in people’s homes, but become part of their lives. Works that give people a sense all at once of calmness, desire, and a feeling of something bigger than just themselves.
I love the democracy of art, that people from across the globe, big city to small town, can find something in my work, love it enough to buy and make part of their lives. I have sold major works around Australia and New Zealand, but also to Italy, France, Germany, Bahrain, Canada and the US. I crate up even my largest works of around 2m x 1m and off they go to their new lives. I would love to extend this to India and beyond as well.
The other role of the artist is to keep the dream of a life in arts and culture alive for the next generation.
What art do you most identify with?
Impressionism and abstraction.
Great impressionists like Monet inspire me, showing how we can step away from a photographic reproduction of a scene. In fact the term impressionism comes from the title of one of Monet’s works, Impression, Sunrise in 1874. It was coined as an insult by a critic who couldn’t understand Monet’s “new” style. But it has stood the test of time. By selecting and presenting only the most meaningful lines, colours or aspect, an impression heightens the emotion and impact of a painting.
Before Monet there was the great British painter William Turner. His work is landscape based, but certain aspects and works had a looseness and focus on colour and feel which mean he is described as the father of impressionism.
Then come true abstract artists like Mark Rothko whose most famous works use fields of colour to produce works of beauty and stunning emotion.
My work merges these disciplines. I produce some pure abstract works, but often my works are sources in a landscape or piece of nature seen or remember, and then translated onto canvas. My own fields of colour often contain a hint of hills, rivers, or the seascapes which inspire me, but they are far more the work of my own emotion and mark making coming together to create a piece that I find compelling. From this style, I find people like to identify with my work, a visual clue triggering an emotion or memory, drawing on the echoes of impressionism resonating through my work.
If Impressionism and Abstraction produce an artistic paint baby, that is my style !
What themes do you pursue?
Sublime romantic dreamlike imaginings of landscape, remembered places and botanicals.
My paintings aren’t images nor landscapes, but from those inspirations I create my own expressions, interpretations flowing through brush strokes and instant creative thoughts.
Paul Cezanne once said that a work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. For me this is true, and my works have to begin and end in that emotion, both for me and for the audience coming to that work. It’s just the way I paint, and without it the work is simply not true. That’s why I say each work has a little piece of me in it.
I feel the pull of and the sense of awe and power in our landscape and nature. Even where there is turmoil or conflict – jagged mountain ranges, storm clouds – there is a resolution and calmness in the grand perspectives of nature, and for us in putting aside the complexities of our life to connect with the elemental strength and certainty of nature. That’s what my works reflect – I like to think they are beautiful and inspiring. People want them on walls to surround themselves in and access their own feelings through my work, or to just look at the beautiful colours, lines and layers, to drift off to another world and be at peace for a moment.
What’s your favourite art work?
Any work I have seen which leaves an impression on me. This can be the scale of a large work which gives me the sense of awe I was talking about, or something which conveys to me the emotion I seek in my own painting. Usually when I am asked this question, my mind turns back to standing in front of pieces by Mark Rothko. Breathing the same air as works by one of my influences, being lost in the subtleties and craft or his work, and feeling so much in the apparent simplicity of his work. Very special.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
When I have a chance I like to get out of the city to go and experience different landscapes to refresh me, and to fill up my own memory banks. I am lucky in Brisbane Australia to have amazing beachscapes and countryside nearby. Just recently I took a random trip to Mary’s Creek here in Queensland. I wasn’t expecting too much, but was hugely inspired.
I stayed on top of a hill and had big views in every direction. It was the cool start of spring. I could see the hills folding back behind each other to the horizon, trees floating in curling morning mists that disappeared into the sky as the day rose, the tawny orange of first light burning off into blue skies. Beautiful to watch.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I have been a professional artist, running my own studio and making my living from painting, for around 10 years. Before that, just like most artists, I spent some time in hospitality . At another stage I was what’s called a lady’s maid at the Governor General’s official residence (the New Zealand representative of the Queen), which was formal and fancy, silver service, lots of tradition. I was a graphic artist also, running my own consultancy.
But of course I still have my favourite, most challenging job – being a mother to my two wonderful kids, CC and Jasper.
Asking me ‘Why Art’, is like me asking why breathe? Why do crows crow, or the sun shine?
For me, making art is part of my nature. It makes me happy, makes my heart skip a beat from the pure thought of it. I have an uncontrollable need to paint, to breathe, to love. Art chose me. Art is my air. Art is where I live.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
Being able to see things that others do not. Being able to carve your own path through the jungle.
Every day you are thinking, planning how to create something new. Even the days you are not in the studio painting, you are absorbing and thinking about what is next. But I think there’s also a lot of subconscious inspiration, because those breakthroughs of colour or form, new works, so often come from straight from the brush, paint melding with canvas, and sometimes even I stand back amazed.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I am lucky enough to have people contact me often to tell me they have seen my painting and it moved them so much they had to let me know. For whatever reason. Those moments are why I paint as well. My painting being part of another person’s happiness for a moment is priceless.
Purchasing a painting of mine is a great compliment in itself to me.
Because of the nature of my work there is also so much room for the viewer to bring their own meaning to the painting, and I love that. Many time people have pointed out things in my paintings that I had never seen, and that blows me away too.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
I love painting to all genres of music as it helps to fill my studio with another source of inspiration. Of those, the old masters like Mozart and Beethoven are great for flow, getting in the painting zone. Right now, the Amelie soundtrack (a 2001 French movie) is doing it for me – quirky, jaunty and almost folksy.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
As an artist I’m never lonely, just alone with one’s thoughts and inspirations. I guess I’m a introvert, but I always have my brushes and paint to create, so never lonely. Sometimes I get a little tired of my own company and rattling around in my studio, but that’s where visitors, buyers and fellow creatives come in.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Like any field, the art world especially at the top end can be fickle, driven as much by taste-makers and fashion as the work itself. But so long as I believe in the truth and emotion of my own work, so long as I am getting nourishing feedback from others, I will always be painting,
What do you dislike about your work?
Sometimes feeling like the works are different in style. Because I have a range of works from influenced by florals, or by landscapes, or pure abstractions and pops of colour, it is sometime hard to put together a cohesive body of works for a large show. But I feel this is a good problem to have because overall I love exploring different themes and styles.
What do you like about your work?
My successful creating of depth and feeling in my paintings. I work really hard on this, using in mixed media on canvas like paint, glazes, gold leaf and charcoal line-work. I create rich yet ambiguous detail through brushstroke, form, and the natural flow of paint on canvas. These sit within the depth and space created by repeated layering, by finishes ranging from matte to pearlescent to gold leaf, and by the courage of restrained composition.
Through these processes and techniques I reflect and interpret the particular yet ever changing qualities of our light and landscape.
Should art be funded?
Yes of course. Whether that be government, corporate, or even private benefactors, funding or patronage has always been important to the art world, not just painting but all arts. Going back hundreds of years, renowned artists like Michelangelo had patrons, and this practice has paved the way for so many masterpieces over all the years since.
Many artists make a pretty humble living, or hustle multiple jobs to get by. Things like residencies where an artist might get to go somewhere just to paint, and cash funded awards, both help us to enrich society by making more works, and allow us to carry on doing what we do.
I believe arts are critical for us in all of our societies, whether to be a conscience, a place of calm and beauty, or as part of the record of us as a people. That is worth supporting.
What role does arts funding have?
What is your dream project?
My dream project is multiple large-scale commissions for either a private residence or hotel space. Ideally this would involve travel, allowing me to access new cultures and natural worlds. This would be so enriching for me, and I would love to give a fresh take on someone else’s cherished places.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Three artists I would like to be compared to are Monet, Turner, Rothko. As I talked about earlier, these are three towering figures of art, abstraction and impressionism. If I had a hint of their mastery of colour, depth and emotion, and forging of their own styles, I would be thrilled.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
The ocean and the beach. So grounding, so breathtaking, so refreshing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Everything in moderation. Think of difficult situations as just another hurdle in life to be overcome. Never give up.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To consistently create outstanding work every time I pick up a brush.
Keep selling works because, let’s be honest, for artists this is our job. We need and love your support.
To keep winning the occasional award.
Family, paint, travel, exhibit. Mix those into my own unique palette, and keep seeing beauty in the world.