Watercolor artist Lisa Tennant creates paintings of urban signs and places that resurrect old memories. Visit her website to see more of her work.
I’ve naturally been creative from the beginning, drawing and painting as early as age five. I painted with acrylics early on, but became fascinated with watercolor. It always looked so fresh, and the paint itself took on a life of its own. In college I learned watercolor from a master—Igor Beginin. I ended up with my BFA in painting and graphic design, MA & MFA in painting and watercolor painting at Eastern Michigan University.
I hold current memberships in a number of watercolor organizations. I’ve won a number of awards in various juried shows in my career, most notably Best of Show in the Scarab Club 60th Watercolor Exhibition and as a Finalist in “AcrylicWorks 10: The Best of Acrylic” publication by Artists Network.
Although I do work in a variety of mediums and subjects, my interests lean more toward nature and architectural subjects, especially using multi-point perspective. Once I discovered my passion for urban landscape, I seemed to always capture signage somewhere in the work. Eventually I made it one of the main themes in portraying weathered and abandoned places.
I am inspired by a variety of artists and styles—Maurice Prendergast, Carolyn Brady, and John Marin are favorites. Photorealism and loose expressive paintings seem like opposites, but I enjoy different art styles and mediums, and appreciate each for their own merit.
I plan most of my paintings ahead, especially the architectural subjects. The perspective has to work correctly and the realism has to be believable.
When working in watercolor, I almost always stretch my paper to make sure that flat washes don’t have issues and the paper stays flat during painting. Vivid color is important to me. With watercolor I have to build the color slowly so there are no streaks, and the paint doesn’t get muddy sometimes with ten or more layers.
Working in large areas to smaller details, it helps to block in the shapes. With watercolor it helps in building the color, in acrylic it helps to define main areas and sets the underpainting to peek through. The works tend to have a photographic appearance from a distance and an abstract when viewing close in.
I am ever learning and am constantly looking to make changes in my work, explore new ways of working, and push the boundaries of theme and meaning in my art.
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