In a quiet and effective way, both Lisa Marie Kindley and Tom Rissacher convey their love for the natural world.
Although the two artists have never worked or exhibited together before, they will be exhibiting their landscape paintings in tandem at Jessel Gallery, 1019 Atlas Peak Rd. An opening artists reception is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 5, from 5-8 p.m.
The magical, soft, dreamy mood of Kindley’s paintings is inspired by ancient frescos and old European tapestries, but most of all, the gardens she has seen around the world. As a child, her imagination soared when she played in the garden that her parents created.
“It was filled with fruit trees, vegetables, flowers and berries,” Kindley said. “There was so much to discover, so many hidden places for daydreaming, within a peaceful, beautiful, protected space.”
Rissacher, a lifelong artist who has also been a surfer for 30 years, gains his greatest inspiration from the ocean and coastal formations.
“There are so many places along our coast where the sea and the rocks and the beach are not only spectacular but look exactly as they looked 10 million years ago,” Rissacher said. “It awakens in me a feeling of timelessness and awe. I suppose that is why you will rarely see people or man-made structures in my seascapes.”
“The reason I put these two artists together is because they are both soft spoken in their styles and actual personalities,” said Jessel Gallery owner, Jessel Miller.
“The wall hangings by Lisa Kindley reflect a bygone time in ancient European castles,” Miller continued. “Tom Rissacher’s delicate valley and ocean scenes speak of the quiet continual warm West Coast light. Together this show lets you float and dream.”
Kindley studied illustration at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Later, she expanded her education by traveling throughout Europe, the British Isles and Japan. While traveling she was captivated by the gardens as well as the ancient frescoes and faded tapestries of old Europe.
Wherever she goes, Kindley seeks out the serenity of gardens and then mingles her memories of those gardens with her imagination.
“I think of my paintings as poems, evoking a mood, a memory, a dream that is too magical to be captured in any literal way,” Kindley said. “The poetry emerges during the process of painting as I let the gardens and landscapes grow intuitively.”
In her studio, tucked among the trees in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Kindley begins her wall hangings by stapling raw canvas to the wall. Both sides are then gessoed, with edges often left frayed for a timeworn effect. Using matte acrylic paints, dry pigments, glazes and pastels, she brushes, sands, scrapes, spatters.
When she is painting Kindley said she always feels as though she is going on a journey. “I have no map, but I have tools,” she said. “I know there will be surprises and accidents along the way, so I let myself be guided at each step by my intuition.
To convey a way of feeling about the natural world that “delights in its intricacy and mystery,” Kindley likes to mix layers of lush foliage, blended with soft hazy landforms. Some details are purposefully visible and fully rendered while others are worn away and obscured, allowed to appear slightly unfinished.
“I think of this as celebrating the beauty of nature at all stages, from blossoming to fading,” Kindley said. “Many people who enjoy my artwork also respond to the mood of serenity, which I think develops when a painting invites you inward, to wander through its world in peaceful contemplation.”
When Tom Rissacher started surfing as a teenager, he already loved to draw and paint, so it was only natural that surfers and waves became his favorite subjects.
“In those days it was just something I did for fun,” Rissacher said. “Years later, while living in Hawaii, I learned how to paint with an airbrush and I created a business painting on T-shirts.”
Some of his most popular images were waves so he became adept at painting the “kind of perfect hollow waves” that surfers love. When he shifted away from T-shirts to painting the waves on canvas, his work began to attract the attention of collectors and galleries. He started painting larger pieces, in some cases 10 feet or more.
Rissacher’s focus now is on oil painting and he paints other types of landscapes such as forests and valleys in addition to oceans. He rarely does an airbrush wave, yet what he came to understand from his years of surfing and painting the sea in Hawaii enriches his current work.
“I learned so much about the visual effects of the ocean,” Rissacher said. “For example, how sunlight reflects off the wave face and how it penetrates the lip, creating a gorgeous turquoise translucent glow, or the way the foamy patterns form themselves into these beautiful snaky shapes for a moment and then disappear.”
Rissacher’s introduction to art came from his father, who wasn’t an artist by profession, yet he was “an extremely talented” painter and draftsman.
“Some of my favorite memories from childhood were watching him sketch. He would draw anything I requested and then he’d show me how to do it,” Rissacher said. “He instilled in me a love and respect for realism at a time when it was losing favor with the onslaught of abstraction and conceptual art.”
In his youth Rissacher spent “many hours with Vermeer, Rembrandt and favorite old masters at the Metropolitan” in New York.
“To me it seemed like a magic trick to be able to create such convincing illusions simply by smearing some paint around,” he said.
Later Rissacher was drawn to the work of the photo-realists, people like Chuck Close, Richard Estes and Ralph Goings. When he took art classes at the University of Hawaii, his “steadfast interest” in the realist style was “frowned upon at a time when figurative art was considered retrograde.”
“I am pleased at the fact that nowadays there is a robust audience for just about every style of painting, from hyper-realism to total abstraction and everything in between,” Rissacher said. “This is the way it should be.”