Monday, November 6, 2017


As anyone who has seen my paintings or read this blog knows, it appears that I have something of an obsession with tulips. They are at once elegant, simple, playful, serious, honest and mysterious. Their colors are infinite and their curves both seductive and innocent.

Mirroring cultural biases I tend to select pristine subjects, their frills plump and their brightly colored arches robust and compelling. This time I selected a slightly different subject.

Slow Fade Lissa Banks 2017

There were age spots on this beauty. In a few days the petals would thin and crinkle becoming almost translucent, curling in on themselves before falling to the mantle and ushered into the dustbin.

Maybe it's a response to what I see in the mirror most mornings but I am increasingly reluctant to replace these flowers as they fade. There was a time when I could feel a man's eyes upon me as I entered a room. I'm not sure exactly when it happened but unless I'm walking into a talk about Social Security filing strategies it just isn't the same these days.

I have more compassion for these blossoms which become more and more difficult to call blossoms. What should we call them then? I don't know. I do know that they are still worthy of our admiration. They are still beautiful. They are unique and sometimes tenacious refusing to give up their stem. I love them all the more.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original, a print or to commission a painting...or find me on Pinterest. Or you can find this and other this and other prints for sale at

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Tulip By Any Other Name...

I've embarked on a journey. An experiment to see if I will ever tire of painting tulips, sort of. I just might because despite having spent now more than 30 hours facing this lady's backside I find that I'm at a loss as to what to name her. I really don't like the convention that some artists use of simply naming them nothing but I'm coming up empty. Help!

Unnamed © 2017 Lissa Banks
It all started innocently late spring of last year. My daughter-in-law and I took the grandkids to a tulip farm in Rhode Island. Our excitement and awe of the row upon row of tulips gradually succumbed to frustration as the 5 and 3-year-old ran up and down the aisles, tromped blossoms, decapitating quite a few. Realizing the excursion might be over before it began, I took as many photos as I could and grabbed as many samples of my favorites as possible before we all piled back into the car for an angry mommy return trip.

At home I found myself with a rather rag-tag looking bouquet so decided to attempt to shoot a series of portraits of each individual. There might be as many as nine in all in the end hence my flip remark about getting sick of painting them. Yesterday I thought that might be true, until I started sketches for my next tulip portrait!

So, my dear readers, I wasn't kidding. I need your help naming this painting. What does it evoke for you? Let me know in the comment section or drop me an email or visit my Facebook page. I'm desperate!

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original, a print or to commission a painting...or find me on Pinterest. Or you can find this and other this and other prints for sale at

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

All Mixed Up

When last I wrote I was in the throes of an artist's block. Yes, that damn petal was driving me to blog. And in the end the blog turned out to be about letting go of expectations.

I'm not sure how I did it, but I nailed the hurdle (you'll tell me if I didn't) and finally finished the tetraptych or quadriptych, which according to Wikipedia are interchangeably used for a four-panel piece such as this. I vacillate between the two depending on which word I can remember to spell at the moment...but I digress.

Family ©  Lissa Banks

Many years ago I moved from east to west to live close to my parents after a marriage, a divorce, numerous jobs, cats, dogs, and three children away. I was there to say goodbye to my father and to meet my mother as a whole human being for the first time in my life. She turned out to be an amalgam of strength and fear, hilarity and timidity, love and bitterness. And she had the softest hands I've ever been graced to have held. She was a difficult woman to be sure: insecure, needy and demanding but loving and devoted. She blesses and tortures me still. Even last night she came to me in a nightmare of sorts!

My first post about this four-in-one painting was how they had come to represent my three sisters and me. Each unique and yet cut from the same cloth. I had expected that's how I'd end up thinking about them in the end. But as usual, I didn't. Not exactly, that is. Expectations dashed once again.

In the end I couldn't put them back into place, I preferred to see them all mixed up. They shine in this way, I think. It causes me, at least, to look at them in a different way.

So maybe they do tell the tale of my sisters and me after all. Maybe I'm looking at us all in new ways now as we are all now solidly in the autumn of our lives... in the same way I had the privilege of looking at my mother in the years before she died. She's in there among the petals, you know, especially the difficult ones, the ones I needed to perfect, most likely just for her.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original, a print or to commission a painting...or find me on Pinterest. Or you can find this and other this and other prints for sale at

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


The other night someone asked me if I was ever plagued by the painter's version of writer's block. Oh yeah, I said. Definitely. As a matter of fact I was in the throes of it right now.

The offending flower.
I'd been blissfully moving right along with the fourth panel of a polytriptych that included, of course, tulips. I got this down, I thought when I started. But here I found myself slogging through the next to the last blossom. What was it about that damn flower that was challenging my patience? After a few days I gave up and painted it over to start again. The second try has shown improvement. It's not done by a long shot but I'm not walking away in disgust. At least at this point I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...I think.

However, the conversation with my friend wasn't so easily rectified. I'm sure that it's hard for non-creative types to imagine the process. And quite frankly, I'm also sure that each artist has their own way of doing things. It's one reason why there is such a variety in style and expression. There are lots of books that give folks the one, two three of painting. There are YouTube videos galore. But he said to me, "why don't you just look at something instead of just making it up." I do, I said. I have my sketch, I have a photo reference and my computer set up as well so I can isolate an area and do color checks. But even with all of that I find myself trying to paint what I think something looks like instead of what it really looks like.

My setup.
When we're in kindergarten we paint all our houses with a pitched roof and one door. No windows. Mom or Dad may or may not have arms and usually someone has inordinately long legs. No torso. I find myself doing it now, rounding edges instead of letting the edges subtly ungulate like they do in nature. Letting go of ones preconceived notions of the material world helps me move closer to it.

My friend and I talked past each other for a while before deciding to move on to other topics. I just couldn't explain to him that yes, I was looking. What he didn't understand was that looking and seeing are different things.

I've put down my brushes for the day. Hopefully I'll return tomorrow with a renewed vision. And hopefully, I'll let go of what I think things should be and accept them for what they are.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original, a print or to commission a painting...or find me on Pinterest. Or you can find this and other this and other prints for sale at

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Summer came in with a whimper -- cold, damp and generally uninspiring. I decided to spend time on an ambitious project, four paintings, each a quadrant of a whole. A tetraptych.

I suppose I believed that summer would continue as it started so I thought the whole thing would be done pretty quickly. The past three days have been in the 90s. Did I mention I don't have air conditioning? The paint was literally drying on the brush before I could get it to the canvas! I'll have to wait for cool weather to move on. Until then, it's an unfinished project.

Unfinished tetraptych - panel one

It comes as a surprise to me sometimes, the meaning I find in my paintings. I don't start out intending to paint an interpretation of the annunciation, or an homage to my grandmother's garden. Those connections come out of the painting itself. And many times I don't recognize them until I sit down and try to express what a painting means to me as I type these words here, in this blog.

I'm unaware of the thought process that brought me to this place. These four paintings. They are each a piece of a whole. Unique but connected. They are familial but each, hopefully, will stand on its own. 

I realize now they are my sisters and me. We are four. 

None of us are dead ringers for the other. We are separated by the states in which we live, by our own family nuclei. But we are all a piece of a whole. We laugh at the same things. We share a love of food and silliness and each other. We were created separately and brought together and raised as one before splitting off to our lives. 

Weddings and family reunions have slowed down. There just aren't that many occasions to get together. But when we do we see ourselves both as who we were growing up and who we are now, growing older. 

The fierce urgency of youth is slowed by nature. The paint dries on the brush. I'll take my time finishing these four. I'll savor the memories of our lives as I do.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You Can't Win Them All

I've written before about how interesting it is to see and hear reactions to my paintings. I've reluctantly posted a photo of a newly finished painting, reluctant because I wasn't entirely sure it was very good, only to find out that people loved it. And conversely, a painting that I'm inordinately fond or proud of gets zero response. Go figure.

Moody Gaggle copyright Lissa Banks
On view through June 22, 2017 at Hopkinton Center for the Arts
A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor with whom I've been in conflict took it upon herself to text me in the middle of the night to tell me, among other things, that my art was "underwhelming." Maybe it is to her. Her response didn't bother me probably because of the diverse reactions I get from paintings I love and those I love a lot less.

One response I got for my latest painting surprised the hell out of me though. It won first prize in a juried show! I had only just finished it, the varnish barely dry as I dropped it off at the art center for consideration by the juror.

I usually like to live with a painting before forming an opinion, let alone submitting it to a juried show. I prop it up in my bedroom, or at the end of the hall, or hang it on a wall wanting some color; someplace that I'll walk by and give it a look or two. There are times I'll even tuck it away and revisit it after months before warming to it. So yes, I wasn't sure Moody Gaggle was good enough to submit so very surprised that it won!

I'm looking forward to getting to know that painting a lot better once it gets back home but for now I will leave it to bask in its own glory. As for my neighbor, maybe I'll begin a series of landscapes featuring a slightly deranged woman way off in the distance looking not particularly important.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original, a print or to commission a painting...or find me on Pinterest. Or you can find this and other this and other prints for sale at

Monday, June 5, 2017

Making a House a Home: Part VI - Design Kumbaya

Every single kitchen remodel I've lived through was filled with surprises and delays, cost overruns and missed deadlines. Not this one. As a matter of fact, if not for a holiday and subsequent inspectors' vacation schedules Joe would have had the project wrapped up a week early! Even the New England January weather pretty much cooperated. Amazing.

Countertops in, appliances going in, floor in progress!
The last couple of weeks were full of banging, drilling, more banging and great progress. On day 16 (!) when the cabinets went in, everything began to take shape. But five days later when the counters were placed, I had the kind of response I'd had when the windows were installed...all I wanted to do was stand there, admire them and run my hands across them!

After that a cavalcade of events took place. Floors stained and sealed, appliances tucked into place, walls painted (another of my jobs), nails driven into heating pipes...OOF, that was a small disaster, but quite literally the only one on this job.

I cannot express how much sleep I lost over some of the choices I made. I also cannot express the relief I felt when it all fell into place. I'd made this sketch to see if I'd like the furniture placement. There were some minor changes but overall I was pretty spot on...except for my wonky perspective.

There's plenty of space to move around the table which extends to seat 8 comfortably (or 10 "intimately"). You can see how great the beam turned out...I did dust it a bit with some vacuum debris to tone down the shine. Worked just fine until nature takes over.

There are still a few more things to do, like have the rest of the hardwood floors stained and refinished to match these. I'm not sure I love what I've put on the wall behind the island, and I miss not having a bulletin board. All very small things.

Before I treat you to the "after" photos I want to circle back to where I began, having a vision of what my kitchen could be and finding someone who breathed life into it. Thank you Joe Cracco of Modern Yankee Builders for making it all possible.

Some Housekeeping

My house has recently been featured in a blog post by a local realtor, Grey Almeida, where you can see more photos of my kitchen as well as some of the other rooms in my home.

Please feel free to visit my Pinterest page to see some of my selections. I have received a bazillion requests for the red that I used. It is a discontinued Martha Stewart color that I had matched at Lowe's. I can provide you with the color mixing code if you're interested. And if you have any questions about any of the other finishes or fixtures, please do write me a note!

After Photos

Monday, May 29, 2017

Making a House a Home: Part V - Go Time

No rest for the wicked, A whirlwind of activity

Joe gave me a six-week schedule. Within a week the rest of the cabinets were gone, a support beam spanned the opening between the kitchen and the family room and I was cozy in my little apartment upstairs.
Imagine this guy in a brushed
brass finish. So happy I
took the risk!

Weekends were spent doing my little "homework" chores. First off was to resurrect my current pulls by painting them antique gold. I'd decided to use three metal finishes in the kitchen: wrought iron, stainless steel and brushed/antique gold. It was risky and for most of the project I doubted the decision but when I found the object of my desire...a swanky kitchen faucet I found on eBay...there was no going back.

Top to bottom: sconce
pendants and
I tried to keep some things consistent. All light fixtures were wrought iron with white linen or white glass shades. The half-circle motif in the sconces informed the half circle globes of the three pendants that would hang in front of each of the three windows looking out to the back. It was harder to find a chandelier that fit the specs that our design left me with.

A small digression: Remember that beam that had to go in to achieve the opening between the kitchen and family room? Well, Joe convinced me to install a deep rustic wood beam there. I was extremely nervous but in the end agreed with him. We purchased an amazing faux beam that I stained (another of my homework projects) and am so glad to have taken that leap.

Back to the chandelier which left me with an interesting conundrum. The table would now run perpendicular to the beam and the chandelier would hang from it. So, first, it needed to have a 5" canopy (that thing that covers the wiring and junction box in the ceiling) and second, it couldn't hang down too far or we'd all be looking through the lightbulbs at dinner or too wide or else people would clonk their head on it getting up from the table. Lucky for me, I found just the ticket at  Love the name of that website. All of my selections are on my Pinterest page.
Top: a product sample for testing finishes
Bottom: finished product
I highly recommend the faux beam product. You have a ton of options with regard to design and finish. I opted to stain mine myself to both save money and to end up with the color I wanted.

The product is hollow and, since it's made out of high density polyurethane, it's very light. Staining was easy, the difficulty was getting a finish that wasn't shiny. I attempted to dull the shine that came with the stain but to little avail. I'm planning on recycling my vacuum dust next time I need to empty the canister!

Next: Getting it done: Part VI - Design Kumbaya

Friday, May 12, 2017

Making a House a Home: Part IV - What's Really Important?

Drama in a drama-less remodel

Thanksgiving was a whirl of family commitments, houseguests, entertaining and trying to keep up on holiday preparations. I'd fulfilled my remodel commitments by making all my selections (appliances, knobs, lights and more). Right after Christmas I needed to box up my kitchen, family room and dining room. Every piece of furniture had to be moved into my living room and study. Construction was due to begin on January 17.

A month before I'd be sequestered upstairs along with my cat, microwave and toaster oven, I got some scary news. I might be facing a life-threatening illness. Or, or course, maybe not. Suddenly I was thrown into a maelstrom of fear and anxiety, tests and waiting amid holiday vacations and mislaid test results. I tried to stay away from Google but I succumbed. There was a tentative surgery date the last week of the month. Throughout most of December I had no idea whether I'd need to cancel the project or not.

It's amazing how a little taste of mortality will prod one into not just asking the question "what's really important" but answering it. I wondered how many more times I'd see my children. How many times I'd feel the sun on my back or sleet on my cheeks. Things came into sharp contrast. I wandered outside at night to ponder the stars and try to find my place among the cosmos. And more mundanely, I asked myself "what the hell do I do about this remodel?" I had visions of me having to climb over the cat gate at the top of the stairs in my compromised post-op condition. I wondered if it made sense to spend a ton of money like that. Surprisingly, it made me incredibly sad to turn it all off. I decided that regardless of the final diagnosis I'd keep it going. I reasoned that it would keep me going. I also reasoned that I was nuts.

At the end of the year the test that would tell me how bad it really was came, not so bad. I rejoiced! Full steam ahead! Surgery still loomed but not with the same dread.

My studio turned into a cook space. A small room with a pull-out sofa turned into my dining/living room. Huge sheets of cardboard along with a kiddy gate prevented the cat from squeezing down the stairs. Finally, Day 1 of Phase II of my kitchen remodel came. When I came downstairs that day some of the cabinets were gone and so was the wall. The transformation had begun.

Even in the murky late afternoon's winter light I
could really see how great this was going to be. 

Next:  What could possibly go wrong?: Part V - Go Time

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Making a House a Home: Part III - The Tease

One week done, six to go...

I ended up selecting a plan that was very similar to the original layout with a few significant changes. We kept appliances where they were because that part worked and because it saved a good deal of money.

But, I wanted to have the kitchen relate to the adjacent family room in a better way. When the grandkids come over that's where they play and the adults drink wine. So the wall between the two rooms had to go. That created a cavalcade of additional stuff (read cost) like engineering, beams, and flooring.

Click on image for larger view.
There was also a powder room off the kitchen that would have been just odd to leave alone so that got swept up into the plan. And there was a weird door configuration such that two, uncased openings leading into the kitchen were right next to each other. Joe suggested we close the one into the dining room and move it closer to the family room. Excellent idea! Before, it bugged the hell out of me that people sitting at the dining room table had a lovely, direct, view into my dirty pots and pans.

 The most amazing transformation (other than all of it) was Joe's idea to create a wall of windows looking out to my back yard, which is basically a forest. I couldn't wait for any and all of this to happen.

It's still hard for me to imagine this is how it used to look. The wall
on the right would eventually go. Bye-bye wall.
There were many meetings. Lots of budgets. Updated plans and updated budgets. I had homework to do selecting finishes and fixtures and appliances. We planned for a mid-July/early-August start. I don't remember exactly why it got difficult on my end but Joe's life got complicated too. At one of our planning meetings he broached the possibility of splitting the project: doing the outdoor work in the summer as planned and finishing up the interior come January. What a great happenstance that we were both hoping for the same change!

Transformative. It already changed the way I used my kitchen!
So come mid-September, the first huge transformation happened. Joe blew out the back wall and brought nature into my kitchen. I lost a cabinet but other than that the kitchen was the same. The effect was enormous! The first day I came down after the window and slider were installed I just stood there for a good half an hour saying, "amazing!" And it was.

Can't wait until January!

Next: It wouldn't be a remodel without some unexpected stress, right? Part IV - What's Really Important?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Making a House a Home: Part II - The Wonky Part That Wasn't

Concept, planning, process...all those iterations and jokes around the kitchen table.

In January of last year I stumbled upon the singularly most important element of my new kitchen, Joe Cracco of Modern Yankee Builders out of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Yes, I wanted to use someone local but for those of you who are geographically challenged, that is local! Rhode Island is a stone's throw away from my hometown Norfolk, Massachusetts. We share a time zone, a snow zone, and a football zone (at least everyone except my son et moi).

I was specifically looking for kitchen designers. I pretty much knew what I wanted to do with the space but I wanted to be sure I was getting the most bang for my buck so I wanted a professional.

This was a teeny kitchen with a huge heart
 and a great garden window full of orchids.

My last kitchen (above) was designed by Home Depot. Before you start groaning, I had an excellent experience. I lucked into a designer who had trained as an architect in Taiwan but moved to the US and was getting her contractor's license. I also saved money by purchasing most of my materials there at a discount. Schwing!

I did give Lowe's here a chance and got perhaps the most uninspired drawing you could imagine. I won't insult my grandson by saying he could have drawn it up.
The only "before" picture I have. The
counter you see is located where the door eventually
 was moved. The wall of cabinets (see below)
replaced the hutch.

This wall was nearly unusable before.
It now provides a huge amount of storage.

I looked into one of those companies that did cabinet refacing but their product looked not so good in the color/style I wanted and they were pretty cagey about letting you see a finished product up close and personal. I also spoke with a local firm whose signs are up in front of tons of houses in the area. Afterwards I felt like I'd been patted on the head and told, "don't worry little lady, we'll take care of everything." That's not what I wanted. What I wanted was to be a part of the process. I enjoy it (yes, I'm a glutton for punishment) and this would likely be the last time I'd do it so I wanted in on the action.

Moving that door allowed for a larger cooktop
and a much better workspace arrangement.

The homeowner/contractor courtship

What attracted me to Joe's firm, Modern Yankee Builders was the process he outlined on his website. I was pretty much sold right there, but just in case we had two extensive preliminary conversations that convinced me. He listened to me, we laughed, he told me his path to doing this kind of work, he listened to me some more. He was the guy; smart, process driven, quality driven, customer service driven. Where do I sign up?

Next step was design. Joe and his cohort Kevin came back, took photos and we talked and talked about what I wanted, needed, couldn't live without. I'd done my homework and compiled a ton of photos on the Houzz website which was handy for Joe, though I did keep a Pinterest board as well. (Note to Joe, learn Pinterest!) I think we talked for more than two hours. They went back to their workshop and came back to me with not one, not two but six different concepts that each had various iterations for a total of 18 plans!  They did exactly what I'd hoped they'd do, they ran with it and got incredibly creative. I selected one and then we incorporated some ideas I liked from the others and it was done.

Sounds like a breeze. It wasn't. I had to sit and stew with it for quite a while. All well worth it.

Next:  Plans, plans, plans and BOOM: Part III - The Tease


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Making a House a Home: Part I - An Idea

It all started innocently enough

I know that I usually talk about my paintings but something has taken hold of me over the past year plus and it still hasn't let me go. It's my kitchen.

I can't say I bought this house in a state of duress. I'd rather say I was a "motivated buyer." Truth be told, I gave myself one whole week to find a house here and, in hindsight, that was a bit ambitious. I am prone to set unrealistic goals. 

Once moved in, I found the kitchen a bit, um, lacking in certain respects. I later learned they'd taken it off the market for a while to make some quick improvements for sale. Emphasis on quick. I was suckered in by their efforts.

 Sure, there was new granite and a newish stove but upon move-in I learned the original 1985 oak cabinets had been hastily painted, likely over 30+ years of gunk, as I scrubbed away swaths of unprimed paint. Closing the dishwasher for the first time I realized it was never properly installed so it just kind of floated around in its space causing me to speculate as to when it would eventually come loose from what few moorings it did have. 

Yes, it looks pretty good, right? Except kind of like
me in 7th grade, it didn't live up to its potential.
I bought the fridge, the existing was missing parts.
The lovely wall color kind of reminded me of a pale raw skinless chicken thigh. Pink-ish, beige-ish, blech-ish. It had to go.

The offending wall. 
But what really irked me was the wall the refrigerator was on.  Too much space was taken up by the phone nook/desk with mail cubby and a totally dysfunctional wine rack over the fridge (where it would surely keep the wine toasty warm and where only Kareem Abdul Jabar could grab a bottle down for me). I was just barely able to squeeze a new refrigerator in there. It eventually became home to my toaster oven and microwave as well because there really weren't many other options and, besides, who really uses a desk in the kitchen when there's a perfectly good table the room?

I won't go into the peeling cork board or vinyl floor tile with various layers of floor "shine" entombing untold crud and small animals that no amount of ammonia and scrubbing could make better. Believe me, I tried.

For three years I pondered the total lack of space in this kitchen. My last house had a 10'x10' kitchen that had WAY more storage space than this 12'x18' one. I'm a cook so something had to be done.

Give me some graph paper
 and I'm dangerous.
I began picking up magazines at the market. I looked for ways to do it on the cheap. I looked at cookie cutter kitchens. I drew designs and fantacized about what to do about THAT wall. I definitely watched way too much HGTV. Finally I started looking for a true kitchen designer.

The Snag 

I didn't expect what I found, which was nothing. Not nothing really, just nobody would talk to me for maybe a couple of years. I tapped some Facebook contacts, combed the local papers, did more internet research and came up with just a few leads that didn't pan out. Either they didn't listen to my needs or they could only take me half way or, I don't know, I wasn't "feeling the love." Didn't find what I was really looking for until I found Joe's company, Modern Yankee Builders, on Houzz, a website I'd come upon some years ago while looking for ideas for my last house. So while I felt that I'd hit a snag on my way to a new kitchen, I ended up snagging a gem. Okay you cynics out there, no, he isn't paying me to write this blog. I'm giving him credit here because your relationship with your contractor is paramount and I happened upon a good one. Giving credit where credit is due.

It's been a largely unblemished year. Let me take you on a tour.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Weiser Idaho

My grandparents' home sits in state on Pioneer Road in Weiser, Idaho. Aptly named as my grandfather was a true western pioneer who arrived in this country at age 16 at the tail end of the Civil War and eventually became one of Weiser's founding fathers. He built that place for his bride and there they raised their seven daughters, five of whom survived childhood. My mother was the youngest.

Zinnia © Lissa Banks 2017
acrylic on canvas 36" x 24"

I can still remember the smell of hay drifting over the meadows behind the house and the slap of the wooden screen door as I scampered out the kitchen to the garden, barefoot and armed with a salt shaker to gorge on warm, red tomatoes, fresh off the vine. Adjacent to the rows of tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans destined for the cellar shelves to live on as pickles and relish, were beds the length of the house filled with zinnias taller than me, which wasn't that difficult to do, but impressive nonetheless. I'm sure there were other flowers there as well but the zinnias have remained in my soul to this day. I can still feel the sun on my nose as I squinted up at their majesty.

Only now have I had a home where they thrive. They signify so much to me. They are brash and strong and outlast all others that wither to mush in a heavy downpour. They are beautiful chameleons that can't quite decide if they want to be coral or pink so they decide to be both and then fade to a dignified mauve in old age. They endure beyond summer. Beyond autumn into the winter they give up their last seeds to hungry birds that rely on their generosity. I admire their altruism, their strength, their dignity. Last summer they were under assault by ravenous rabbits. Even then they outwitted their enemies and feigned defeat only to reemerge stronger than ever.

It must have taken gumption to come to this country and make one's own way. I can only imagine my grandmother's first impression of the wild west her husband brought her to from her sleepy shire in Scotland. Looking at my sisters and all our children I can see the Fisher strength and determination living on, I hope a little of that trickled down into me. At the very least they gave me a great gift, a deep appreciation for this glorious flower that endures against it all.

    For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original, a print or to commission a painting...or find me on Pinterest. Or you can find this and other this and other prints for sale at