In Conversation with Lisa Ormsby

  • 26 September 2018
  • Sarah Holden

An abstract mixed media artist, Lisa Ormsby has quickly become one of our most popular painters at The Little Gallery. With a keen affinity for her natural environment, it's no wonder so many of our visitors develop an immediate connection with Lisa's work. In anticipation of seeing her new paintings for our upcoming Labour Weekend exhibition, 'I See...', we talked with Lisa to learn more about her background and artistic practice! 

Tell me about your introduction to painting.

I grew up in Titahi Bay, Wellington, and I was introduced to the love of art at a young age as my Mother loved to sketch and paint.

Do you have any memorable stories from when you were starting to paint?

In 1998 my son was doing a fine arts course, and he arrived home one day and asked if I would like to do a painting together. That was the beginning of my journey as a painter. In 2000 I attended art classes at the Waikato Society of Arts in Hamilton, which was a great place to paint, learn and share with other artists. A memorable moment for me was in 2003 when I entered one of my paintings into the Waikato School of Arts Awards and won 4 different awards for my painting - that was a great boost of confidence for me. In 2001 I gave up my job in the hospitality industry to pursue art full time, which I feel blessed to have been able to do. At the time I didn't know of many artists in my area so I mainly travelled up to Hamilton to connect and network with other artists. In 2007 a group of artists and craftspeople in our district from Pio Pio, Te Kuiti, Waitomo and Otorohanga got together to form a group called Creative Waitomo; we get together once a year and exhibit.

You live in Otorohanga - what do you love about living there? Can you tell me about your connection to the Coromandel?

I love the relaxed lifestyle of Otorohanga, and with Hamilton just up the road its not to far to travel if there is something on in the arts.

I myself don't get over to the Coromandel too often but when I do, I take in all the breathtaking scenery it has to offer. I can see why people from our area love to spend their summer holidays there and later retire to that part of the country.

You often use lots of mixed media which gives your work a very rich layered quality - even though they can be quite simple compositionally, I find I can spend a long time looking at the layers and layers, strokes upon strokes on paint and collage. How did you arrive at this process of painting - can you tell me about what influences your composition, colours, moods? 

I would say I am a pretty down to earth personality - I enjoy my garden, I love rocks and stones, different shapes in a landscape, looking up to the sky to see a new skyscape above me daily... Anything that has been formed naturally through time stimulates my creative mind. The colours I use in my paintings can sometimes be determined by the season we are in at the time, but I suppose a lot of my paintings have an element of what is around me in the natural world. I tend to just pick up a paintbrush and go with the flow; once the base colour is laid down I'm usually on my way and the painting just grows from there. I enjoy doing my strata style paintings as they make up their own little scenes, and it's only when you are finished and viewing the painting, that it can give you a feeling of somewhere that is familiar to you, or makes its own story. I want my work to give out a positive energy to the viewer; I don't paint if I'm not in the mood or feeling unwell. I enjoy a person's feedback on what they might see in a painting, it might be a picture or ocean scene, or maybe just a feeling they get from the piece.

Why do you paint – what does it mean for you?

Painting has become such a big part of my everyday life; if I'm not physically painting I'm thinking art, looking and loving other artists' work.

What do you want the viewer to take away from your work?

I would hope my artwork would give the viewer a different way of seeing, where they might see one thing in the painting one day, and maybe see something different the next time they look.

What do you love about exhibiting in The Little Gallery? Could you talk a little about the community of artists in the Waikato?

The Little Gallery represents all their artists well through social media and host events during the year. Since exhibiting my work in both the Tairua and Whangamata galleries, I have had lots of great feedback from people who have seen my work.

I am lucky to have a great group of artist friends who I network with from the Waikato, including Julie Whyman who is also an artist at The Little Gallery. I'm really thankful to Julie as she introduced my work to the gallery owner Sarah Holden, and she also delivers my work to the galleries for me! 

Can you share anything on future projects or directions with your work?

I don't really have any future projects in mind, but maybe one goal would be to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit and go wild with the paint, but most of all just keep enjoying my work and growing as an artist.

See Lisa Ormsby's latest paintings at our upcoming Labour Weekend exhibition, 'I See...' - join us for the official opening at The Little Gallery Whangamata from 4pm on Saturday 20 October, and from 4pm on Sunday 21 October at The Little Gallery Tairua!


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