Iris in Bloom

“When I started painting subjects that were close to my heart,” says oil painter Lisa Palombo, “I got a great response and started selling everything I painted; I couldn?t keep up.” Flowers are what she loves; you?ll find florals somewhere in almost all of her paintings.

Irises and Pussy Willows (oil, 36×30)

Growing up in a rural New England community, Palombo felt connected to the natural world: land, sea, flowers and trees. Years later, while renting commercial lot space in Hobeken, near New York City, she?d visit small corner markets that sold beautiful flowers. After purchasing a variety flowers, she?d paint them. At this point her art career took off. “I think people were thirsty for something pretty, pleasant and calm,” Palombo says. “Flowers filled those needs.” Today, she continues to paint florals as well as landscapes and seascapes. Growing her own flowers in her perfectly located garden—right outside her glass-windowed studio—she alternates between playing in her garden and painting on her canvas.

Palombo?s inspiration for Irises and Pussy Willows (above, right; oil, 36×30) came when a neighbor surprised her with a glorious bundle of pussy willows from her backyard tree. “I already had the irises so I thought, Why not pair them up with the pussy willows? I found a few sprigs of something yellow in my own garden and a painting had its start.” This is how most of her paintings emerge—spontaneously and organically. “I don?t spend too much time thinking or planning my next piece,” explains Palombo. “My subjects are all part of my daily visual diary. If it comes across my path and I find it interesting or beautiful, it eventually finds its way on the canvas.”

She begins her still life paintings by finding a couple of objects and setting them on a table that receives lots of natural light or one that?s lit artificially for dramatic effects. After deciding which table is most appropriate, she starts adding to the collection of objects. “If I don?t know what a grouping needs, I?ll start searching outdoors in my garden or around my house,” Palombo says.

Then the painting begins. She blocks everything in with a light wash of brown sepia on canvas. The light areas are kept white. Adding color as she goes, Palombo builds up the surface. Her paints are scattered on her painting table in somewhat of a color wheel order while she works fast and intuitively. Her broad brushstrokes reflect freshness and energy. “I like to put down the paint thick, like icing on a cake. I also enjoy putting one stroke next to another, as in mosaic. When you step back, it all pulls together, but when you look closely it?s almost abstract.”

Inspiration seems endless for this artist. “Between traveling to scenic places or simply overlooking my studio garden, as well as the changing seasons and various times of day, there?s no shortage of beautiful images to record.”

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