At the age of thirty three I began to recover memories which altered my perception of who I am and the family in which I grew up. Since this time, my creative work has been inspired by the development and transformation of identity.
My painting process is like a return to my childhood habit of staring at wood grain and discovering odd faces and figures. Recently, I have combined this process with very basic drawings of a central figure combined with writing about my intention. Each painting begins with roughing in the focal point and brushing light and dark hues in various directions creating nebulous forms. Standing back from the canvas begins the search for lines, shapes and forms that connect with the primary character. Imaginary yet recognizable imagery begins to appear. The painting continually transforms through color and brushstrokes, creating an organic and abstract composition. I create texture by scratching through the surface with toothpicks, brush handles and altering the consistency of paint. Childhood symbols are always a part of each painting: windows, crooked houses, ladders and misshapen geometric patterns.
My goal is to create a colorful cast of characters in a performance of their own self-discovery.
“Lisa Bartell’s art work struck me immediately. One cannot easily say why a work stands out as being sensual and why it moves the onlooker in a way that prompts them to say “I just have to have that.” I believe that one’s response to her art is at a visceral level where it is not so much cerebral as it is an attraction at a gut level. Having said that, I believe Lisa’s art is not only beautiful in its own right with color and texture but meaningful as well. It is not literal as just a pretty figure or flower but rather it is more abstract where one assigns meaning based upon what one brings to the work each time you look at it. It is what Bruno Bettelheim said about fairy tales for children. They are meant to be scary on many levels and yet beautifully written to keep us enchanted such as “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Hansel and Gretel”, just two examples. Children take from the story what they need depending upon their developmental age to work out fears and allow for resolutions of their fears when they are ready to do so in their unconscious minds.
So it is with art where one simply responds to a piece in different ways depending upon the day. Lisa’s art is like that. If you want to be simply entertained by just taking in the color, whimsy and texture it is there for you, and if on another day, you may want to interpret the way a particular figure is juxtaposed with another or why a flower is bent so out of shape that it no longer resembles a flower then that is there for you as well. This is the reason that I have been drawn to Lisa’s art. It is both beautiful and intriguing at the same time with nuance that allows her art to endure never getting tired or stale just as the Grimm fairy tales have intrigued young readers, as well as old, for so many years.".
Susan Antaki, Collector
Lisa Bartell is a f...ing genius!!!
Hope Alexander, Collector
Lisa Bartell is best known for her abstract figurative oil paintings in which she explores the theme of self identity and how life events can suddenly transform internal reality making our relationship with ourselves and the world temporarily illogical. Bartell’s paintings are inspired by her own experience of uncovering buried childhood memories which disrupted her art career for several years. This began a journey of healing from post traumatic stress disorder in which creativity played a large part of her healing process. Bartell gives expression to her experience by painting a narrative of females living in a fantastical and abstract world in which anything can happen. Her characters defy the norm of what we expect life to be. In her creative world figures are often whimsically elongated and distorted or juxtaposed with animals whose characteristics represent a search for increased self awareness. Bartell paints expressively, using bold color, varied brushstrokes and texture. Symbols representing her childhood are found in several paintings: windows, ladders, crooked homes and lopsided geometric shapes. Her work is open to interpretation. As one collector stated, “It is not literal as a pretty figure…., but rather it is more abstract where one assigns meaning based upon what one brings to the work each time you look at it.” Bartell’s work has been impacted by Chagall’s whimsical fantasy paintings and Modigliani’s African influenced portraits. While she gets inspiration from other artists, Bartell decided years ago to avoid an intense study of their technique. “When I look too closely at another artist’s paintings, I lose myself and my intention.”
Bartell lived in New York State for nine years until her family relocated to Memphis, Tn. She was always interested in art, attending the Memphis Academy of Art as a teenager. Bartell later studied painting and drawing at Temple Universities’ Tyler School of Art. She received a BFA at Kent State University and an MFA at the University of Memphis. Bartell began her career as a graphic designer and illustrator. She has taught art at the elementary through college levels.
Bartell is an award winning artist. She has had several solo exhibits as well as participation in group shows. Her paintings are in private collections throughout the United States.
Bartell lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband Gary and dog Dexter.