by Trude Lisagor
All images copyright 2018 Trude Lisagor
I began painting in 1997 at the age of 46, a year after my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I had experienced many significant losses including no longer being able to teach elementary school full time. So, I was ready for some gains. I was encouraged to try something new, something creative, and was attracted to watercolor.
Once I made the decision to try painting, I set out to find a class. While at the local shopping mall, my husband had the idea to wander into the art and framing shop to see if they knew of any classes. That led me to the wonderful Margaret Meade, a professional artist and master teacher from Caracas, Venezuela. I went to her basement studio and changed my life.
Margaret taught me to see the shapes that exist everywhere around us. I began to observe what I hadn’t truly noticed before. Of course, translating that onto paper was another story. The biggest challenge was overcoming my fear, and it’s something I continue to face almost every time I begin a new piece. But Margaret’s guidance, laughter, encouragement and the camaraderie of the other women there helped open a new path to my creativity.
When we moved to Bainbridge Island in 2004, I felt it was the right time to try painting on my own. Equipped with what I had learned in Virginia, I bought a table, watercolors, a few brushes and paper. At first I had to force myself to get started…to dip my brush in the water and paints and touch the page. But I did it! I began experimenting with a more whimsical approach and collaborated with my husband on some projects. I also began breaking some of the rules I’d been taught.
More recently, I have begun to expand my personal boundaries even further by painting abstract images. I was drawn to an artist, Mike Biskup, whose watercolors were hanging in our local gallery. Instead of painting still lifes or scenes, he creates pieces using color, lines and shapes. Over the summer, my grandson and I attended one of his demonstrations and I was inspired. A few months later, I painted with Mike in his Port Townsend studio. With jazz playing in the background and non-judgmental conversation, I experienced a whole new way to have fun with painting.
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