Lisa Shelton’s self-portrait, All Dressed Up, is her first attempt at portraiture. The canvas version and the real Lisa are shown here on a cold November day, outside the Owen County Art Guild. Although she’s been an artist all her life, Lisa began painting only a year ago and All Dressed Up was done recently, eight months after she took up painting.
An oil on canvas, Lisa painted it using a “selfie,” a term used to describe a photo taken of oneself using a smart phone. “The day I took the picture,” she said, “I’d been cleaning my house and had found things I’d forgotten I had. I started putting them on—dressing up, which I love to do—and taking pictures of myself. I used the selfie to find out if I could paint a portrait. My goal is to paint a portrait of my late grandmother for my dad, as a gift.”
When Lisa, a pre-school teacher, joined the art guild, and then the Partners in Painting class a year ago, her artistic interests already included playing the cello, creative writing, sculpture, sewing, knitting, and photography. As a ten-year-old, she remembers picking up a Polaroid Instamatic and taking her first picture, in which, according to her Great-Uncle Gerald, she’d cut the heads off the people. Nevertheless, for Lisa, it had been the most exciting thing she’d ever done and, she said, “As a teenager, I got my hands on a camera that used real film!
“I love photography so much because I want to share the beauty of the world with people who think they don’t have time to look, to see it. I’m a photographic opportunist—I stop and capture anything that makes me go ‘Oooh!’” The subject of Wailing Tree, a black & white, 8 x 10 photo, grabbed her attention in that way: the tree looked as if it were in agony, mourning in a graveyard, in the fall of 2012.
“Art, for me, is emotive,” Lisa added, “it’s not about perfect technique. If a piece of art connects emotionally to anybody, it has fulfilled its purpose. Broken, another of my oils, was my response to somebody—somebody I care deeply about—whose heart had been broken. And I had the opportunity to see this piece of art connect with another soul. To witness that moment—when my work touches somebody—is amazing. It is an honor.”
Lisa also creates tie-dyed clothing, what she refers to as “wearable art.” She loves the medium because, she said, “It’s always a surprise! You bind it, dye it, and you have to wait twenty-four hours to see it. It’s like Christmas every time I wash out a new item and see it for the first time.
“Something I love about being a pre-school teacher,” she added, “is that I am immersed in art every day. I also get to share the love of art with the children in my class. We paint, sculpt with play dough, write stories—it is a wonderland for the creative. I had the title of the messiest teacher they had ever met. Then, later, I got the phrase “you can paint with anything” attached to me through one of our in-services. One of the things that drives me crazy is that, when you walk down a hallway at a school or preschool, and all of the art on display looks just like the one next to it, you know those kids were not allowed to express themselves but, instead, told how to do it right!
“Art is an extension of who I am. I use more than one medium to express myself because, if you feel blessed with a creative spirit, why would you ever want to limit yourself? My question to you is, ‘Why not?’”
Lisa Shelton’s artwork is a part of the holiday show at the Owen County Art Guild; the guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN. Her artwork, as well as those of all the artists featured in this series, can be seen in color online at http://www.lauraleffers.wordpress.com. The guild’s phone number is 812-829-1877; Lisa can be reached by e-mail at: email@example.com.