Lisa Boardwine is master of abstractism
By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | March 01, 2017Lisa Boardwine has evolved from using crayons as a child, to representational art, to her current genre – abstract oil/cold wax and acrylic/mixed media.
"I have painted since I was a young girl. As a child, a box of crayons was my favorite toy. I always had a creative outlet. However, I did not take any formal art classes until college — once there I took every art class possible. I also studied with other artists that I admired through the years," she says. John Alan Maxwell, well known for his illustrations in such publications as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly and Women's Home Companion, was her mentor.
"There was never a question of should I continue to paint. It is a necessity for my life. For me, painting is as natural as breathing. I am compelled to be in the studio as much as possible. Normally, I am in my studio every day, unless I am traveling or teaching a workshop," Boardwine says.
"My style has evolved through the years. My work is now primarily abstract, and the media I prefer are oil/cold wax or acrylic/mixed media. I did begin painting in a representational style — painting landscapes, portraits and figures but creating abstractly was always in my heart.
"I evolved as an artist by painting and drawing realistically and in every medium for many years. All the while, I was privately experimenting with abstracted landscapes and expressionistic figures and backgrounds. As I developed artistically, I found that abstract painting allowed me to express what I wanted to say in paint.
"For a period of my career, I focused on figurative work, especially dancers, and this was the time I began to answer my inner calling to paint abstractly. I loved to study the human form, and I loved ballet and was very fortunate to study several ballet companies for research. More and more, when I studied the dancers in rehearsal and performance, I saw them as abstracted forms and lyrical lines, moving across the stage. The lighting and costumes added ambiance and texture to what I was seeing. At that time, I began creating abstract backgrounds in my dancer paintings.
"This was an important transition in my art career. My work became nonrepresentational from that point. My focus was directed to reacting to the art elements that I felt passionate about — textures and altered surfaces, color study, the way a certain place made me feel and a personal response to my surroundings. It all seemed effortless leading to a natural progression of moving into the style I create now.
"Presently, I paint exclusively in oil and cold wax medium and in acrylic/mixed media. Painting in this style and with these mediums, truly allows me to create visually what is in my heart. Another element, which has deepened the journey of my artistry, has been being selected as a recipient of two fellowship residencies at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia. Having this time away from the daily norm, to totally immerse myself completely into my work, has been a valuable experience to my art. These fellowships afforded me the luxury of painting — with no interruptions — and to meet like-minded painters, writers and composers from all over the world."
Her painting process involves applying layers and layers of paint on cradled panels, paper or canvas. Using various tools, she adds texture and interest by building up and tearing down the layers of paint. She tries to create a sense of the mysterious through many layers of media. She uses mark-making and asemic writing to enhance the history of the surface. Asemic writing is a wordless open form of writing. It uses the lines and curves of writing but doesn't actually form letters or words.
The cold wax medium is composed of beeswax — with a small amount of solvent and other ingredients that speed up drying time. The wax is mixed with oil paint and has a soft, creamy consistency with a matte finish. This medium allows the artist to build layers with added texture and various techniques.
"In this process, I cherish the freedom I have found to experiment, express, and explore the world through my work," Boardwine says.
When Boardwine travels the world, Italy is her biggest influence and has been since she was young.
"Italy was a place I dreamt of visiting from when I was a little girl. I remember looking up everything about Italy in encyclopedias – before computers and the Internet. So when I finally traveled to Italy, it was a dream come true. I was already inspired by surfaces that held stories within and textural elements and markings left behind, so Italy offered everything to me and all in one place. I immediately felt at home.
"All aspects of the landscape and culture became my color palette. I loved the food, the culture, the landscape, the music and oh my, the art. Beauty in every direction, below my feet and above my head, I was simply mesmerized. From the old stone walls, amazing architecture, to the graffiti – old and new. All things left behind and the stories
embedded in every place I visited, have given me a lifetime of resource inspiration.
"Italy prides itself in the history and the beautiful erosion it offers. This concept has given me my painting philosophy, 'Create a history, provide some mystery and make your mark.' Italy is a place that I carry in my heart.
"My travels there have elevated my art standard, providing me with perpetual creativity and inspiration with more depth than I can possibly share in a verbal way. I am always planning the next trip to feed my creative soul. In the meantime, I cherish the memories and photos from my time there. My connection to Italy has changed not just my artistic perspective but also serves as a life force and directs how I exist in my environment day to day.
"Italy has been my muse for several years. I am inspired by 'spirit of place.' So whenever I travel — near or far — I respond to how I feel in a certain place, in that moment. I absorb the textures, culture, sights, sounds and light of a certain place, and I bring these memories back to the studio with me. It is always a mystery as to what will evolve in each individual new work. By beginning each painting intuitively and allowing the memories and emotions to be expressed through paint, the work is experimental and fresh," she says.
When she's working, she uses another art as an inspiration – music. "Music is very important to my studio art practice. It depends on the day and what I am working on, as to what I listen to. It can range from classical to rock and everything in between. Pandora is great. Sometimes I play it softly, and sometimes I play it very loudly in the studio. There are periods of my work, which can be identified with the type of music that I was listening to in the studio. Music also influences my color palette," she says.
Boardwine enjoys spending time with her family and friends, her two doxies, photography, cooking, dining out and travel. Her family just celebrated the wedding of their daughter, which she describes as an "opportunity to embrace every aspect of life that brings me happiness."
To learn more about her exuberant artwork, visit www.lisabboardwine.com.
THERE'S MORE: Get to know Lisa Boardwine
"Evening Light of Cortona" by Lisa Boardwine shows her usage of asemic writing.