As part of our Exclusive Artist Program, we’re collaborating with a handful of independent artists whose work can only be found in galleries to bring their creative vision to our customers. They create artwork exclusively for us — you won’t find these pieces anywhere else — and you get to enjoy the next best thing to original art at an affordable price.
Last week, we visited Exclusive Artists Lisa Moore in her studio in Chamblee, Georgia where we talked about her pieces, why she started painting, and we even got to watch her while she worked on a new equine painting. Take a tour of her studio below and get to know this talented painter:
Caroline McDonald: I know you grew up in Northwest Georgia, but tell me a little bit about your background.
Lisa Moore: I’ve always painted since I was young. My aunt was an artist, so I was always learning from her. My parents were both educators, so they encouraged me to express myself through art, but I never studied art formally in school. It’s just always been a hobby.
As an adult, I worked in the health care world as corporate coach for a large health system here in Atlanta. When I had my son, I decided to leave my job, and I began consulting. I started painting more and more and getting involved in the art world, and my business grew organically from there. It’s funny actually because art is remarkably similar to my corporate job — it’s problem solving.
It’s like any artistic direction or business in that you need to know the mechanics of what you’re doing before you can start creating in your medium. With photography, you need to understand light and composition. With writing, you need to understand the language. Painting is the same way. You have to start by learning to draw, composing your piece, and understanding color theory. My favorite part is bringing all of that together in a way that’s expressive and can connect with people. The problem solving comes when you’re deciding how to pull the emotion from your subject — how the brushwork, color, and composition can communicate the feeling of the work.
CM: When you’re starting a piece, do you start by sketching or do you just start putting paint on the canvas?
LM: It depends on the piece and also on the painter. I’ve studied mostly under two artists, one who insisted you shouldn’t sketch first and another who preferred it. Some compositions I can visualize so clearly that I don’t need to draw on the canvas before painting, other pieces I like to create that framework before taking to my paintbrush. So, I really work both ways and let the subject matter determine where I begin.
CM: You clearly love horses. What is it about them that draws you in?
LM: They’re free. I grew up around them and have four that live on my parents’ farm. They’re such expressive animals — powerful and free.
CM: I love the way you interpret color. You use unexpected color palettes for familiar subjects.
LM: The emotion I’m wanting to evoke often drives my color palette. In this painting for example (above, right), the whole essence was to show his power and masculinity. I rarely use this bright of a palette or this much darkness, but I needed those strong colors to capture such a powerful horse.
CM: It seems like most of your work is on large canvases. Do you like a large scale better?
LM: I do. I’m not sure why, but it’s easier for me. Because the canvas is so large, I can be more free with my brushwork. I tend to tighten up when I go small, and the piece becomes something that anyone could do. The large size lets me be more expressive, I guess.
CM: Now you paint mostly with oil, but you also use wax. What’s the purpose of the wax?
LM: It can add texture to the piece. I also just like the way it moves on the canvas when it’s mixed with oil paint. Sometimes, I’ll melt the wax so it drips a little.
CM: How do you picture people using your paintings in their homes?
LM: You know, I don’t really think about that. That’s up to whoever finds themselves in the work and takes it home. My clientele is largely female, and often they want pieces in their bedrooms because they connect to them emotionally. But sometimes especially with the horses, they’re over a mantel where a client wants to make a bold statement.
CM: The horses that you paint, are those your actual horses?
LM: I’ve been painting horses for so long, that I don’t need to paint from life anymore. These are just drawn from my imagination. I’m a pleasure rider, so I’m always around them and know their shapes and movements so well.
CM: I love the mantras you’ve written on your walls.
Being brave is at the top of that list. I’m always challenging myself to really step out and not fixate on it being perfect. Instead, create something interesting and not something anyone could do. The word ‘focus’ is a theme too! In my previous corporate job, I had a team that I was working with, so I did a lot more multitasking. Now, I play every role, so I need to remind myself to stop and focus on my art.
CM: How do you think your work has changed?
LM: It’s more me. There’s not as much outside influence as maybe there once was.
CM: How do you know when a piece is finished?
LM: When someone I respect comes in and tells me to stop! Ha! You know, that’s one of the reasons that I’m always working on several pieces at once. It forces me to step back, walk away, and come back when I’m inspired. I often have my best ideas when I haven’t been thinking about a piece and it’s just hanging on the wall. All of a sudden, I know just what the piece needs or that it’s done.
CM: You have a great playlist on! Do you listen to music while you’re painting?
LM: Always! I’ll often land on a song that perfectly captures a piece I’m working on. It’s a beautiful way to help focus on the mood you’re expressing.
CM: We have one of your barns. How do you approach a landscape differently than your figures?
LM: I love nature, but I can’t easily paint landscapes or translate a landscape into an emotional piece, at least not yet. I treat a barn like I would a figure. The peeling paint and history of barns have always intrigued me. I grew up around my grandparents’ farm, and there’s something about that pastoral life that I’m drawn too. It’s a simpler life with more contentment. I’ve always been fascinated by rural spaces, but the barn can represent so many things like self-reliance and self-employment. It can be just a cool place to hang out with horses. It can be anything.
CM: In your home, do you use lots of color like you do in your artwork?
LM: You know what’s funny. I have no blue or turquoise in my house, but I do love to paint with it. I guess I’m drawn towards warmer colors in my home, like reds, greens, and browns.
CM: How did your partnership with Ballard come about?
LM: Going into galleries can be intimidating because original art is an investment. I haven’t always had the means to buy the art I loved, as I’m sure most people can relate too. As I started painting, my mission has been to make art accessible to people. I haven’t raised my price point of originals in maybe five years, but when I met with the Ballard Designs team and saw the quality of the giclées they print, it all fell into place. I paint pieces specifically for Ballard, so I don’t sell an original that other people can buy as a print.
I want everyone to be able to see a piece of art they love and have it in their home, so in that way, offering my prints through Ballard has been the perfect partnership.
CM: How did we find your pieces?
LM: It’s a funny story actually because I’m located in Atlanta where your corporate office is, but your art buyer found me in Texas. Twice a year, I go to the Round Top Antiques Fair. Your art merchant was walking around and stopped into my booth. After connecting, we both came back to Atlanta and picked the three pieces we launched with.
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