The Painting Process that Heals by Lisa Bartell
My oil paintings are consistently influenced by the retrieval of traumatic memories and represent a journey of personal healing. Looking back on my body of work, I can see how the style changes from one series of paintings to another is an obvious and gradual transition reflecting my own internal transformation.
“Faces Real and Unreal”, begun in 2002, is my first series of oil paintings. This work is an expression of the internal division of self caused by childhood trauma. Each painting is of a female child and a representation of myself at various ages. Through this work I was able to let go of past experiences and feel more complete as a person.
“Flora Transformed”, the second body of paintings, is informed by the concept of internal reality as continuously shifting to greater or lesser degrees. This work is a personal expression of how drastically my reality was altered due to the recall of repressed memory, but also universal in expressing the commonality of experiences which change reality. There is a transition in style of exaggerated and distorted line and form combined with a more organic and abstract composition. The painting process became one of never knowing what the end result would be. This process is symbolic of the ongoing and unknown transitions of internal reality.
Currently, I am working on two series of paintings, “Acceptance” and “Outside of Normal”. Each painting in the “Acceptance” series represents an emotional effect of a memory. I have been creating this work from an emotional distance, as the journey of healing seems to have been primarily achieved. It was interesting to notice, after the completion of each painting, a more intense feeling of freedom from past trauma. This series has directly led to the “Outside of Normal” paintings. After so many years of feeling so outside the norm of reality, I wanted to explore the idea that there is no such thing as normal.
We have all had experiences that make us feel on the outside of some falsely defined perceptions of what is considered normal. The imagery and composition is now a whimsical expression of internal reality. The figures are strange characters in a world of their own making where they can create an illusion of self as if in a play. Objects can be found in unexpected places and fantastical worlds can be created as far as the imagination will travel.
See Lisa’s website for more images of her terrific artwork!