Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Feminine Wiles

Last Thanksgiving I had the unique privelidge to sleep a night or two in a young ladies' bedroom. She was spending the night at her mother's house so I took up residence among objects most likely not long for her life. Dolls, stickers, posters, scraps of paper. Treasures all.

Cinderella © Lissa Banks
I wanted to read for a bit before going to sleep but the overhead light was a bit too bright. I turned Cinderella Barbie on. Surprisingly bright light, I thought, as I snapped this shot. Barbie illuminating the darkness.

As I look at this painting, I'm struck by so many lessons for the little girls who flick the switch to turn on their bedside light. Cinderella, the girl rescued from oppression by the proverbial prince of a guy who only recognizes her beauty when she's dolled up in her glass slippers. Barbie, the improbable and unattainable figure of womanhood clasped tightly by four-year-old girls across the globe. The girl-woman with no legs, a steely coil hoists her to hover over the desktop.

What lessons do we teach our daughters? Who illuminates their darknesses?

Note: I'm at a loss for a title for this painting. Suggestions? Put them in the comments please.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Loosening Up

I'm at a bit of loose ends.

Started one project in oil but it needs to dry before I can move forward. Waiting for a call back from the collector to start working on a commission. Can you hear my fingers thrumming on the desk?

Not wanting to get into anything too ambitious I decided to aim to complete one canvas in one day. This is counter to my instincts. One day requires spontaneity. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I'm a ducks in a row kinda person. There is a list somewhere in every room of my house.

Enter Autumn Mist - Willamette Valley
© Lissa Banks
I turned to my trove of photos and found a shot from a memorable visit to the Willamette Valley wine country in Oregon. It was November so the crush was long tucked away and being transformed by the miracle that turns grape juice into wine.

Maybe it was the spirit of the spirit moving through me (we did enjoy some good wines that trip) but I think I've captured the atmosphere fairly well...mist rising over a nearby ridge, edging through the pines and onto the yellowing vines.

That was fun, think I'll do it again.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reality Check

We sat knee to knee in the living room checkered by Christmas presents and plastic bags full of wrappings when she coyly announced that he was taking her to a romantic inn in Maine for New Years. I wondered if she'd come back with a bit of gold wrapped around her left ring finger. Indeed she did.

A few weeks later my son asked if I'd be able to sit for the boys come August. The wedding to be in Jamaica, not child friendly. Confident that with an expert helper by my side I'd survive, I said yes.

Summer Boys © 2014 Lissa Banks
Fast forward to August. Four nights and five days full of Cheerios, diapers, kiddie pool splashing, tricycle riding, playground excursions, bumped knee kisses, emptied towel drawers, brotherly swipes, baths, more diapers, hummus sandwiches, ice cream making, Lego building, water coloring, turtle hunting and stories before sleep did not go by in a flash. Indeed, there were times I was sure they would never end. But end they did.

I am so glad for that time, exhaustion was gladly paid for the opportunity to be a mother again to two such small and wonderful creatures. And equally glad to have this image as a memory of those summer days.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings.

Monday, August 18, 2014


It sometimes happens that happy things are also sad things. That the innocence of children belies what the future holds for them. And life lives itself out in the way it always does, with gratitude jumbled up with loss for things once had. Pretty much sums up my feelings about this painting.

Max © Lissa Banks 2014
The boy grew more distant from us, veiled by the mysteries of the human brain. The beautiful boy. Sweet Max. His grandparents generously commissioned the painting for Max's mother, yet unaware of the life and death struggle one of them would be facing of his own. Body turning against itself.

We soldier on knowing we will meet our own day of reckoning, none of us able to squirm our way out of it. No excuses.

But until then there are bright days against which to squint, posies to pick, gravel to crunch under our tennies, small hands to grab hold of as if to keep them from ever growing larger and inevitably letting go and moving far away from us.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Flashing Back

It was just past midnight on a damp June evening some 46 years ago. I was sitting on the floor with a sketchy black and white TV tuned to the California presidential primary election results. It's likely that I was working on a painting that looked something like this one.

Daisies 1969
I was 16-years-old and had been working on odds and ends of lumber, detritus from my dad's workshop that he let me have, encouraging my artwork. Some were stylized portraits of families — girls with big eyes and Victorian styled dresses holding bouquets of daisies. Others were baskets of flowers, or suns, or moons. It was the 60s, after all. I made a little money from commissions. Handmade versions, perhaps, of stick figures seen on the back of minivans these days.

On this night, however, innocence was lost once again. I looked up just in time to see a scuffle in the kitchen of a hotel. A woman, Ethyl Kennedy, reaching down for her husband Robert, as he collapsed on the ground.

What did I just see? What was real? There was no DVR to rewind. No instant replay. There was no explanation except for the chaos that surrounded the man on the ground. Sadly we'd seen it before. When would it end?

I remember the bright colors on my pallet, my brushes, my hands, the wood. I remember the black and white on the flickering TV screen.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings.