A conversation with Roaring Fork Valley artist Lisa Singer
Lisa Singer is a lifelong artist and an active member of the local arts scene. Her latest work — a set of paintings and sculptures titled “STORM” — is on display at the Art Base Annex Gallery in Basalt through Oct. 8. More of her art is viewable on her website, LisaSingerArt.com.
How did you come to the area?
I came home to the Roaring Fork Valley about 7 years ago. My family has roots here since the 1950s, when my father built the house that became the Chart House restaurant in Aspen. I was raised in Boulder as my mother believed Aspen was too much of a party town to raise a family. Sort of ironic that they chose Boulder, isn’t it?
Prior to spending 18 years raising my children in Boulder, I lived in New York, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey and Washington. Each location profoundly influenced my psyche and my artistic development.
How did you get into art?
I have always made art. I am one of those people that likes color and shape and making things. My first memory of an artistic endeavor is finding the block of cheese in the kitchen and being taken with its texture and color, bringing it to the yard and proceeding to smear it all over my skin. The visual of that substance on my 4-year-old form is forever etched in my memory!
Another strong memory of my artistic beginnings is being at a real artist’s studio when I was 8 and on a sabbatical with my family in NYC. You can imagine that reality switch! The artist — that compassionate person — gave me a canvas and some oil paints. I made a painting I called “City In The Rain.” I thought myself very clever and sophisticated as it was abstract, no buildings or rain drops but bits of vertical spots of all different colors.
As a young person I was on a biology track as the natural world captivated me. I wanted to be Jane Goodall, however, fate took a sharp turn when I was 17 and there was a jewelry-making studio at my high school in Boulder. I became smitten with putting metal and stone together into wearable art and containers. There was a lapidary set up as well. Can you imagine all this in a public school? I loved cutting stones as I had knowledge of geology through my father and grandfather who both were geologists and rocks were always a topic of discussion in my home. I continued to make jewelry for many decades, owning an online earring company and doing art shows, even winning best of show at the 1998 Boulder Creek Festival.
What finally brought you to painting?
I yearned to express myself in a larger way. I wanted more spontaneity, color and larger movements than jewelry making allows. I started to paint in earnest. I chose the medium of acrylic paint because it is so versatile and relatively nontoxic. I love the way you can manipulate the paint and create layers. I have found that what one can remove from the painting is as important and useful as what one can put down, and there are so many exciting ways to do that with acrylic medium.
For me the act of painting is akin to being in a place of worship, sitting next to a person I have a huge crush on, and listening to a sermon. There is the passion, the education and the spiritual connection. I put that feeling into my art. My use of texture and subtle colors create a mixture of emotion and peacefulness. I have been a mixed-media artist, doing acrylic transfers, using paper and other objects with the paint on my canvases, but these days I rely strictly on the paint and a bit of pencil or charcoal to convey my inspirations.
What sets your work apart?
My process is very intuitive and there are lots of layers of texture and color. My subjects are not exactly abstract but are very real scenes, however what I am interested in conveying is a feeling, an emotion with each piece.
I use a process in most of my painting that looks a lot like writing. This is one of the first processes that I do as a way of infusing the piece with intention and energy, a consecration or blessing at the beginning as a way of giving “birth” to the new piece. A poet friend of mine puts it better than I can when he says, “The ‘Scratches’ are like written messages that are almost but not quite readable. The ‘texture of text’ has me thinking of the way we read stories into images, we can’t help it. Also the way it feels sometimes, to hear whispering in the wind. Or the way we see images, like a farmhouse or a boat, when we read words that describe them.”
Intrinsic to my art is making sculptures and putting together three dimensional objects to form a metaphor. I love old wood and metal, and these things I collect call out to me for a new life as pieces of art. Often these pieces make me laugh with their subtle humor.
The direction I am headed in after this “STORM” series of paintings is larger paintings and more experimenting with texture and color. I want to go even bolder and bigger and braver. You know, the three B’s!
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