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Lisa Bartell

A sudden and unexpected recollection of repressed memories is a mental explosion. It is both the death of a previous reality and of personal identity. When this became my experience, the inspiration behind my paintings became clear; the development and transformation of how we define ourselves. I view each series I have of painted as a timeline moving from a false and dissociative identity to an integrated sense of self and finally to a shared collective identity.


Working with oil on canvas, I focus on a female figure or figures living in a world of fantasy and abstraction. This becomes a metaphor for the unknown and unexpected. I do a lot of scribble drawings, jot down titles and have inner discussions before beginning a painting. It’s a kind of therapy session between myself and the female to be painted. Each painting begins by using a palette knife and brushes to cover the canvas with earth tones and oranges, creating hidden organic imagery. This allows me to search for lines and shapes within the texture and brushstrokes. I see this process as a return to my childhood escape of focusing on wood grain and looking for odd figures and faces. The female is loosely painted, transforming as the work progresses. I love playing with color, which results in a bright and bold palette. Personal symbols are often a part of the composition; misshapen geometric forms, crooked homes, ladders, trees and birds. The final imagery can appear as whimsy or psychologically visceral. Each painting is an expression of a character in the process of self-discovery. My goal is to create a narrative that leaves room for the viewer to insert their own story.

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