Lisa Larrabee, Visual Poetry

By | 5:18 PM
Artist Lisa Larrabee painting in her studio
Lisa Larrabee in studio
Tucson, Arizona oil painter Lisa Larrabee creates in the styles of Traditional contemporary: Portraits, landscapes and figurative landscapes. This interview highlights her ability to put poetry into visual form. Lisa Larrabee is a life-long artist.
"I have always considered myself an artist.  I can’t remember a time that I did not make art.  I started creating my family’s Christmas cards in kindergarten.  I was continuously encouraged and given many opportunities to develop artistically.  For that, I am eternally grateful."
She graduated first in her class from the Kansas City Art Institute and teaches art classes in watercolor, oil and acrylic.  Lisa’s portrait work is representational with a focus on capturing both personality and accuracy. 

In contrast, her landscape pieces follow in the traditions of tonalism. Specific details are simplified and colors are used to express mood with the goal being more poetic than literal. Lisa has been recently focused on her figurative landscape paintings. These are a combination of both her tonalist landscapes and her portrait/figure paintings. They play with visual connections between the figure and landscape and are increasingly allegorical.

Painting of mother with her children and a tree branching out in the background
Indelible Branches
 Copyright Lisa Larabee 2013
What inspires you to create art?

I am inspired by beauty; beauty in shapes, shadows, in colors and in simplicity. I tend to prefer subtly over drama (although I feel it can be quite dramatic). After I visited Sedona with its incredible red rock formations, the image I chose to paint was a flat desert vista.  I still remember my in-laws whispering behind me, “What is she taking a picture of?” “I don’t know.” That still makes me smile.

What are you trying to convey through your art? 
What does it mean to you?

I have become more interested in creating narratives within my paintings, particularly with my figurative landscape paintings.  I have this vision for what I want my paintings to be, but it is intangible and elusive.  I know that the only way to create paintings the way that they are in my mind, is to become a better painter.  I keep trying, learning and experimenting.  Art is a journey so I can only hope that each piece continues to make me want to paint a better one.

Figurative landscape at dusk with images of same person somewhat ghostlike
Copyright Lisa Larrabee 2012

Tell me about influences.

I have been getting inspiration from a broader variety of artists than I have in the past because of my inspiration boards on Pinterest.  Previously, I would clip articles on artists that I liked and, of course, I have many art books.  However, my Pinterest boards allow me to reference my favorite artwork so easily, and new art is put in front of me that I may not have found otherwise.  I can also go directly to artist websites to learn more.

There are numerous contemporary landscape artists like Brent Cotton, Lisa Joyce-Hill, Kevin Courter and Nancy Bush that inspire me.  I love figurative artists Jeremy Lipking, Adrian Gottlieb, Thomas Reis, Felix Mas, and Brad Kunkle. 

Figurative landscape with expectant mother wearing a flowing dress.
Copyright Lisa Larrabee 2013
Tell me about your creative process.  

The easiest way to describe my creative process is to show it. I have a teaching blog that shows sketches, painting stages and describes various painting techniques. Please check it out and share your thoughts. 

What exposure have you had?

Most recently, I have had three finalists and two meritorious entries in various categories of the Richeson 75 International 2012 and 2013 competitions.  I also displayed “Remembrance” in the Scottsdale Biennale exhibition.

Any advice for aspiring artists? 

Keep painting.  Keep drawing.  Take classes.  Read art books and magazines that open you up to new techniques and possibilities.  Study everything around you and pay attention to what you really see, not what you think you know is there.  Surround yourself with art that inspires you to take your work to the next level.  Basically, don’t stop and don’t give up.  If you find yourself not being challenged, raise the bar.  

Please feel free to like her Facebook page, follow her blog and join in watching her current art in progress on the following links for artist Lisa Larrabee online….

Figurative painting of newborn baby boy swaddled in blanket.
Copyright Lisa Larrabee 2012
Painting right side profiles of three boys of various ages.
L Boys I,II & III, Copyright Lisa Larrabee 2013

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