This my wonderful furry son, Dexter. He’s a good looking guy and knows it. We can’t go for a walk without someone saying how beautiful he is. Its gone to his head.
The work in progress below is the start of Queen of the Cotton Carnival. The final painting can be seen in the Mask Makers series. This work was created for a group show at Gallery C, Raleigh, NC, titled Southern Discomfort. I lived in Memphis for several years, so this image came to mind. The Memphis Cotton Carnival was a completely bigoted event that thankfully, has now ended. There are several symbols in the final painting of the racism involved.
Queen of the Cotton Carnival is available for purchase at Providence Gallery, Charlotte, NC
I recently began a new series titled, Whose Head Is Under the Hat. The work in progress below is primarily coming together with a palette knife. Creating the central figure and background with this process is proving to be a lot of fun. A whole new set of surprising forms. Hope to have the finished painting posted soon..
I took a little trip back to the Menageries series with this painting, The Woman’s Magic Hat. More recently, my work has begun with a central figure surrounded by forms and imagery discovered in the brushstrokes. This series begins with my intention of transformative identity, but I have no planned composition. The entire painting is discovered in the brush movement. This process represents the unknown in our lives which effects who we are and become.
The Elephant Frog
A mini story by Lisa Bartell
The Elephant Frog looked towards the sky. “I’m lost”, he screamed to the clouds, the Sun, the Moon and the Stars.
It wasn’t always like this. The day the mirror stared back at him was the day he became confused. Nothing made sense
“Where do I fit in the world? Someone please help me!”
The Elephant Frog wondered who brought him into the world. He had no memory of parents. “Was one a frog and the other an elephant? That doesn’t any sense.”
Even in his sadness, he longed to discover who he was.
He decided to gather pens and pencils and large sheets of blank paper where he wrote day and night about every thought he had. Sometimes he drew little pictures on the paper that told his story better than words. “This drawing makes me feel good”, said the Elephant Frog. “Maybe I’ll add some color.” So he gathered tubes of paint and brushes and canvas and began pouring his soul on to painting after painting after painting.
One day, he kept staring at what he created. “This looks so familiar. Is this me?” Suddenly the wisdom of the Universe swirled through his brain, lighting up what he had thought were empty spaces. Wisdom traveled through his voice as he screamed with joy, “I created myself! I see a dancer on my head and a clown on my toes! These are my friends who love me!” Big tears kept running down his beautiful elephant trunk and his beautiful frog feet. The Elephant Frog had discovered his power and in it found love, truth and contentment.
He had the wisdom of knowing endless creativity in all its shapes and colors.
“The years were merely seconds of time when I was killed by the hands of the shadow in the dark. Yet, I still lived.
“ I became “We.
My body held everyone.
I disappeared, left the scene”
Working out new painting ideas with sketches
The mess I make. And yes, paper towels are a waste. Time for more painting rags.
Looking for Hidden Windows went through a major transformation as you can see in the painting images in progress below. My girl became a rabbit, but they are one and the same. Both are timid and vulnerable, yet full of new life. You can see a small section of her on the right side of the first image in progress.
As a child, I was fascinated with the smallest windows in the turrets of Victorian homes. They seemed like a wonderful place of magic where I could hide and create my own world.
Providence Gallery, Charlotte, NC
“Our Media understanding of a successful professional who makes entertaining objects that sell for a lot of money, is very restrictive. Artists are people who do things with images in order to understand the world. They have a fierce desire to know themselves.” Massimiliano Gioni
Hillsborough Arts Council, NC. Solo Exhibit, 2017
“My childhood life: It often interferes with living.”
In 1989 a mental switch turned on and I started to remember. That pushed down buried reality exploded with a piercing scream and a voice that kept repeating, “don’t let me go crazy, don’t let me go crazy. Reality was split in two and nothing made sense. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store were like wandering in another dimension. The memories kept coming. Now, so many years later, the journey of healing has made me whole.
I was eight years old when the teacher had all us kids line up in a row. Mrs. Stewart walked back and forth studying each face until she stopped in front of me, came close and said in an overly cheerful voice, “You will play Repunzel. “You are so pretty and have such lovely long blond hair. Of course you are the perfect Repunzel!” I didn’t feel pretty at all. Acting in front of all those people seemed terrifying. This was the last thing I remembered about the school play. I had no idea how many weeks had passed when my mother came in to my room so excited. “Wake up Lisa! Today is the opening of Repunzel!” I was scared and confused, thinking to myself, “No one gave me my lines, there were no rehearsals. I can’t do this play!” Well, my two guardian angels must have been looking out for me, because I had a horrible case of measles. I was relieved to be sick. What would I have done on that stage with no memory of playing Repunzel?
Magic of the Butterfly Kiss
Why are we always in awe when seeing a butterfly? It evolved into the perfect creation of nature: color, pattern and rhythm living uniquely in the moment. The butterfly gives the world a brief life of beauty and grace. Perhaps the four stages of metamorphosis, remind us of our own elusive desire to evolve into a more powerful being. The butterfly has figured this out.
The Scare Crows Beautiful Brain
Most kids love watching the Wizard of Oz. I never felt this way, though the horses changing colors was pretty exciting. As Dorothy came closer to meeting the Scare Crow, I became more and more tense. I thought his need for a brain was also mine. Years into adulthood, I would often feign arrogance as a means to hide the false belief that I was inferior. I’m happy to report that the Scare Crow and I are now proud of our beautiful brains.
As Crosby, Stills and Nash said, “Treat Your Children Well”. Don’t tell them they are stupid. Don’t let a sibling tell them they are stupid.
A Chair of My Own
To me, an overstuffed chair is like a safe enclosure. The chair in this painting is the girls’ private island beginning to float above the trees.
Honoring the Children
Basic sketch studies for painting.
The imagery in this painting popped into my head and I knew it was something I had to paint. The cuckoo clock and baby doll are from one of my many childhood bedrooms. This is a personal and universal story of childhood trauma and healing.
The broken clock is symbolic of how traumatic events transcend time. They are carried in to adulthood becoming part of our identity and affecting the way we experience life. The baby doll is an iconic symbol of children and a representation of my own sense of being powerless. I hated my doll, often abusing her as a way to feel stronger.
This painting is a movement beyond the past and a regaining of the soul. The woman is looking down on her childhood, honoring the survival of the person she was.