Featured Member: Lisa Ober

Lisa Ober, "Oddball"

Oddball. Oil Pastel

Lisa Ober has been a professional artist for over 25 years, specializing in oil and pastel portraiture. While her love of painting people continues, in recent years she has been captivated by still life painting and is particularly intrigued by reflective and transparent objects. Lisa co-owns Ober Anderson Gallery in Clayton, Missouri.

Regarding her approach to painting, Ober says "How would I paint that? The question sneaks increasingly into my daily interactions. Whether I am painting people or objects, the challenge and joy of painting is to accurately and realistically render my subjects while retaining the uniqueness of the human touch behind the paint."


Portrait of a Boy

Portrait of a Boy. Oils

Who are your favorite artists?

I've always loved the works of William Bouguereau, and I am mesmerized by his techinical skills and impressed by his ability to paint flesh like no one else in my opinion. Other artists whose work I admire include Johannes Vermeer, and yes, Norman Rockwell. In recent years I have begun to appreciate the work of living painters like Jacob Collins, Duffy Sheridan, and William Whitaker, as well as hyper-realistic still life artists such as Neil Hollingsworth, Steve Mills, Jeffrey Larson, and Jason De Graaf. They "wow" me! While I appreciate many different areas of art, I keep coming back to my first love: realism.

What media or materials do you most enjoy working with?

I love moving between oil painting and soft pastel painting. There is a richness to oil painting that simply cannot be matched. With oil painting, much more effort goes into planning a painting and much more patience is required. When painting with soft pastels, I find the medium more forgiving and more immediately rewarding—which is great for someone who has the inability to deny gratification. I believe I could say I adore working with soft pastels. Materials have improved so much over the past few years with the availability of new papers, boards, and primters. There are also some amazing new handmade pastel brands available as well. Pretty exciting!

Lisa Ober, "Pastel of Woman"

Pastel of Woman. Oil Pastel

What inspires you?

People inspire me! Great artists inspire me. Beautiful things inspire me. Simple objects inspire me. Words inspire me. Lately I've become fascinated by reflections. Most of my still life paintings contain reflective objects for that reason. I get lost in the beautiful distortions of color and shape in the metal and glass and I love observing how incredibly unpredictable they can often be. I think I look at almost everything and wonder if I could paint it beliveably. It's almost distracting. You might think that I am trying to figure out which of the two knives, four spoons, and three forks are appropriate to use at a nice restaurant, but I am actually looking at the crazy reflections and wondering how I might paint them.

Lisa Ober, "Portrait of Child"

Portrait of Child. Oil Pastel

A lot of your work is portraiture...how did you first become interested in painting and drawing portraits? What are the most challenging aspects of creating a good portrait?

I first became interested in portraiture as a small child. My grandmother was a self-taught portrait artist who painted in a designated studio space (set aside ONLY for painting). That seemed like a dream world to me! From the age of about five on, painting people was what I knew I wanted to do. The biggest challenge in portraiture is getting a likeness, and I believe that hinges on getting the eyes right. Certainly, the overall facial proportions are important, but if the eyes miss the mark, your painting is doomed. YOUR lovely daughter just became a lovely little girl who simply resembles your daughter.

Lisa Ober, "Office Party"

Office Party. Oils

In addition to your artistic practice, you also co-own Ober Anderson Gallery in downtown Clayton. How did you come to the decision to open a gallery?

I wish I could ay that I always wanted to own a gallery, but that isn't true. When one of my partners suggested we open a gallery, I had trouble justifying the overhead and time away from the studio. But the space was beautiful and the location so perfectly suited for a gallery that we took the "leap" and I was beyond thrilled at the outcome. We've had terrific support from other artists and this has opened up all kinds of opportunities for us. It also gives us a way to showcase other talent in our area as we host guest artists each month.

Lisa Ober, "New York Old York"

New York Old York. Oils

What is your personal definition of art?

We'd probably all agree that this is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Having said that, I would suggest that a piece that is skillfully created, thoughtfully conceived, makes me ask questions, and/or moves me to appreciation, could well be art.

For more information about Lisa Ober and her work, please visit her website at www.lisaober.com.

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