Voices of Experience - An Interview with Lisa Grossman
Voices of Experience
Serpentine II 20 x 24" Oil
“. . . I intentionally shift media and subjects
to keep a sense of discovery in the work.
If your creative process is about discovery
the work will be alive and have energy.”
The paintings of Lisa Grossman invite the viewer to discover with her the essences of her subjects. Each painting seems to show a distilled purity of inspiration drawn from nature.
Grossman focuses on the open spaces, rivers and prairies of the Midwest. Although she began life in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania and was educated at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, it was after she moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work as an illustrator for Hallmark Cards that Grossman discovered the open tallgrass prairies and big skies of east-central Kansas. Ultimately she left her work to paint full-time.
Blaze Yellow 38 x 40" Oil
Her inspiration is the horizon. She writes, “Coming from Pennsylvania, my first experience (in 1988) of the Kansas prairies blew me away and I’ve been in pursuit of that distant blue horizon ever since. I never tire of experiencing that vast prairie space, evolving light and shifts in weather.”
In the Burning Hills 12 x 36" Oil
Her prairie work is painted almost entirely en plein air. Southern Chase County, Kansas is her favorite subject with its high prairie views and open range. “I can feel completely alone and in my prairie reverie! On a prairie upland I can sometimes feel at the top of the world and at the center of everything.”
She continues, “Once when I was out painting a long, straight, leading edge of a front moving in, I realized it had this beautiful, gentle bowing to it. The moment I realized what I was seeing—the cloud conforming to the curve of the Earth—I had to stop painting and sketch it out in my sketchbook to fully understand it. Indeed, because the atmosphere conforms to the shape of the earth and the clouds, (especially long, low, straight ones) conform to the shape of the atmosphere, I was seeing the curve of the Earth in this cloud. What a revelation! I continue to revel in that 'sense of planet' one can experience here, from the ground, in the middle of the continent, with nothing but active seeing! Things like this, I believe, I would never have experienced had I not been engaged in the creative process and open to possibility, with senses heightened.”
Clouds over Creede 12 x 24" Oil
Red-Rimmed Cloud 6 x 12" Oil
Drawing and painting have been a part of Lisa Grossman’s life since childhood. With a mother who drew and enjoyed arts and crafts projects, Lisa was encouraged to follow her natural inclination to create.
“Taking the artistic path in life has always felt natural to me. I’m not sure I’d be satisfied in any other vocation or good enough to make a living at it. Of course I’ve made many choices along the way to maintain this lifestyle—choosing to go to art school, to work as a greeting card illustrator, to quit illustrating and go back to art school, choosing to pursue fine art full-time. These choices certainly required sacrifices at times and giving up some 'stability' real or imagined, financial and otherwise, but to me the freedom from routine to pursue my creative interests has always been worth it. I’ve been very fortunate as well.”
She takes inspiration from the bold, confident work of Georgia O’Keeffe and Andrew Wyeth, the landscape paintings of W. A. Sutton, Ferdinand Hodler, Victor Higgins and the Taos painters, Gary Ernest Smith, (see Holding Ground - The Art of Gary Ernest Smith), Tom Thomson and Joan Foth.
Grossman would like to communicate to her audience through her paintings, “a sense of my own awe, wonder, gratitude, for what I’ve experienced in 'place' and hope that the energy resonates in the work. I hope the viewer comes away with an expanded sense of place and a deeper appreciation for what is out there to be experienced.”
Into the Sun 44 x 48" Oil
“When you are engaged in the creative process, especially plein air painting for me, you become open—open to possibility, discovery. You see things differently and in a much richer way than merely observing something. With all your senses engaged, the world becomes alive around you all because you’re actively seeing—participating.”
Bitterroot Peak 9 x 12" Oil
Grossman encourages beginning artists to practice persistence. “The only way to succeed is to fail a lot, so when you’re doing a lot of work your success rate is better and you can relax a little more. You have to enjoy the process enough to not get too hung up on what you think is good or bad work.”
Visit Lisa Grossman's website to see more of her paintings.
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