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 FineArtAmerica.com.

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