Lisa Graham - Sharing Stories of The Heart

Lisa Graham - Sharing Stories of The Heart

What is best for Nigel - Oil on Canvas by Lisa Graham

- Can you please share a little of your background? For example, where you are from and how your artwork ties into your culture or where you live.

I have lived in Colorado for a year, but most of my life has been spent in Kansas.  Once in a while the Kansas landscape shows up in my work whether it be a figure standing in an open field or an old farmhouse.  Only recently have I started to explore painting mountains, but this landscape is still very new to me.  

- Which situations or experiences have helped you evolve as an artist? For example; what makes you who you are?

There are many experiences that have contributed to the artist I am today.  The first was starting my blog.  I met so many other artists and creative people through blogging and their work as well as their support and feedback really helped me to grow and just keep painting. Online classes and workshops also helped me develop my style and skill as a painter.  Being a part of a gallery was also another incredible time of growth for me.  Spending time with artists and art collectors taught me so much about art and art business.  

- Does your work carry a message? If it does not, then can you tell me why you make it?

Great Grandma's Kitchen - Oil on Canvas by Lisa Graham
I would not say I have a specific message to deliver through my art.  I tell stories.  My stories are about love and belonging, about loneliness, about relationships and life events.  I like to capture emotion in my figures and often those emotions are quite serious and people can relate to the figures in my paintings because it reminds them of their own life experiences.  I make art because for me painting is as relaxing as a good book and a bubble bath. I simply enjoy it.  What I paint depends on my mood.  I might see a mother and daughter one day on my walk and it makes me want to paint a mother and daughter.  I might purchase a pretty coffee cup and paint an entire scene just so that I can paint that cup.  I also like to paint from memories.  Recently I painted a kitchen with a red and white checkered floor which was from an early childhood memory of my great grandmother's kitchen.  I feel so inspired by these things, by everyday life among people, pretty places and spaces and things, and my own memories.  These are things I enjoy painting so much.  

- Who are your biggest influences? Why?

Early on I was lucky enough to make good friends through my blog.  One in particular is Julie Ford Oliver.  She is an incredible artist with a strong business sense and I learned so much from her about painting, marketing and art in general. Lynne Hoppe is another artist I met through my blog and it was through her I learned to stay true to myself as an artist - that painting what you love and finding joy in art is more important than selling it. I was also very influenced by gallery owner Teressa Sliger.  I was in her gallery for three years and her wisdom and guidance on the business side of things during that time was invaluable and her encouragement was endless.  It was through her gallery I started painting with a group led by Wichita, Kansas artist and teacher Brian Hinkle who also had great influence.  He taught me so much about oil painting and perspective, viewing art and also the business side of things.  I feel lucky to have met all of these friends.  

Do you have a current project that you are working on?

I am trying to incorporate more animals in my art lately.  I have a golden retriever who is getting older and knowing my time is limited with him, I want to capture him while he is still with me.  I also have been going through my thousands of photographs and picking out ones that might make a good painting. It's a great way to revisit your memories. I start by drawing it in my sketchbook using charcoal just to establish values.  If I like the drawing  and if I think it will "read well" as a painting, I go ahead and paint it using my drawing as my guide.  I don't look at the photo anymore because I want to take liberties with color.  This has been a great thing for exploring color.  I am just getting started with this method and have not shared any of these paintings yet.  I will soon though!

- What has been your biggest challenge as an artist when it comes to your work and/or career?

The biggest challenge is making the time for painting.  There are so many other activities that compete for my attention.

 - Do you actively seek out opportunities or do you just go with the flow? Why? How is that working out for you?

Early on I was more aggressive about seeking opportunities to show my work, but now I just let things unfold.  If the opportunity to show comes up and the timing is right of course I say yes, plus I have my online shop on Etsy where I sell my paintings.  Once in a great while I teach one on one painting lessons.   It feels more right to just let things flow this way for now and I sure do enjoy painting more with this relaxed attitude.  

- Do you find it difficult to price your work? Why?

At first I found pricing very difficult, but now I keep it simple and price my paintings by the square inch.  If I have a painting that I feel is worth more than my current pricing, then I don't sell it.  I hang onto it until either I raise my pricing or I am willing to let it go at my current price.  

 - Which pieces are you most proud of? Why?

I am most proud of my intuitive paintings where I paint from my own ideas rather that using photographs.  What is Best for Nigel is a good example of that.  It was inspired by a song called Making Plans for Nigel.  I was cooking dinner one evening and the lyrics to that song put this very strong image in my mind.  I was able to execute the painting with ease and I find this very exciting when it happens this way.

 - How do you feel after completing a project?

Sometimes really good, sometimes really disappointed.  I am always working on letting go of my expectations.  

- How has art changed or challenged your life?

I am so much more self confident and more mindful of who I am since becoming a painter.  But I am also more humble.  I started painting in my 40's and I truly felt like I had tapped into a part me that was meant to be found, that needed to be found.  Art helped me make more sense of myself, my past, my memories, and the people and places around me. Painting made me think about things more as I painted the people and  the scenes. It makes you reflect a lot.  I have more gratitude, more joy, more love, and more faith since becoming a painter and  I cannot imagine a world without art and without artists who help us see things.  I think that nature and people are God's creation and therefore painting them is a spiritual thing.


Night Beach - Oil on Canvas by Lisa Graham

You can find more information about Lisa and her recent projects and paintings here: 

Comments

I love "Great Grandma's kitchen". Not only is it visually attractive but it reaches out to me and makes me think of my own memories and I can not help but smile. Thank you!

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