This week’s cover began as a photo of a pond in Nassau County. As the artist, Lisa Argentieri, explains, “I had just purchased new≠ Escoda Watercolor brushes and they really inspired me to create! The beauty of the rich, jewel-toned colors of leaves that were just beginning to turn color, motivated me to paint this scene, using Daniel Smith watercolors,” which, with their deep, saturated colors, never disappoint. “The staccato-like brushwork was used to show the pattern of light flowing through the trees,” she explains. You can even watch her paint this particular work on her website!
You describe your style as “free-flowing, organic and fearless.” Oftentimes artists can be hesitant to allow their work to be those things. How did you get to the point where you were confident enough for this?
After years and years of careful observation, composition and drawing, I gained the confidence to paint loose and intuitively. Also, studying Master Artists’ work helped a great deal. I believe that solid drawing skills and a good sense of anatomy are needed to paint “fearlessly,” or else the painting would simply fall apart. It takes a tremendous amount of practice to paint the figure, for instance, with so few strokes. One note of paint in the wrong spot will make a painting fail. Critiques from other artists, and fine art teachers were and still are the most valuable to me. I never make preliminary studies, and rarely draw the painting in pencil. My technique is straight to paint, usually wet on dry paper and I always finish a watercolor in one session. My personal opinion is that watercolor should be loose and unpredictable.
You also note “less is more.” Can you expand on that?
Less is more in watercolor is my personal philosophy. I want the viewer’s eye to “fill in the blanks.” I wish to never bore the viewer. I like that every time one looks at my work, they see something in it that they hadn’t seen before. I believe that leaving a bit of mystery in a painting is valuable.
If you could recreate any famous painting in history, but in watercolor, which would it be?
I never thought of that! The first thing that comes to mind is the Mona Lisa. I think I may do just that!
In describing your figurative watercolors one might call them “almost haunting.” Do you think that’s a fair phrase to use?
I tend to think of them as mysterious. Who are these people, why are they faceless, and why are they looking away? The viewer can juxtapose any narrative onto them and it will work—at least that’s one intention of mine.
While no less impressive than the rest of your work, I was a bit surprised to see the “motorcycle” section on your website. What is it that draws you to motorcycles as a subject?
The motorcycle portraits and the dog portraits are new and are a result of spending time in Daytona, Florida. People there love their bikes and dogs and it was a lot of fun portraying them!
Who are your influences in art?
I heavily influenced by the Master Impressionists, especially Henri Matisse (for his lines and shapes), and Van Gogh (for his composition and love of color). I admire Jackson Pollock for his fearlessness and originality. My recent discovery of Gerhard Richter, surprisingly, turned my world upside down and influenced me greatly in painting freely and passionately.
Where else can our readers see your work?
My website, lawatercolor.com and Instagram: @lisaargentieri_artist. I currently have a show at the Daytona State College of Art, and am the cover artist of Halifax Magazine (Daytona, Florida) Nov./Dec. 2017.