Artist of the Week: Lisa Elley, The Knife Queen on the Cutting Edge

The French doors of Lisa Elley’s studio are always open.

Light fills the 1940’s Californian space. While Elley creates, she hears the blend of the hungry hum of hummingbirds and the distant city-buzz of Silicon Valley.

She is surrounded by diverse landscapes: Big Sur cliffs, Napa Valley vineyards, Sierra Nevada mountains, and San Francisco streets. These visions and vistas become foundations of her paintings.  

Lisa’s creativity began at a young age. Her humble upbringing, which was spent on a hilly little farm in New Zealand, characterized by a scant toy-collection and self-made entertainment, cultivated her ingenuity.

She cultivates her own energy and enthusiasm in her paintings, which is so ingrained that she calls it a part of her DNA. She paints daily, quickly and prolifically. She uses a “wet-on-wet” technique so she must paint within the time of the paint drying.

Elley has a unique mastery of the palette knife. She is so skilled that she has even been crowned, “The Knife Queen” by a Facebook fan. She jokes, modestly: “my knives have a hold on me, I actually have very little to do with it!”

The colors and lines in her paintings are lively and conversational.

She describes her artistic process for making the birch tree landscapes: “after the initial explosion of color – dazzling cadmium reds, yellows and oranges, combined with luscious cerulean and French ultramarine blues – you will then notice leaves falling, and being blown around, helping to draw you in and feel like you just have to be in that birch forest, experiencing the smell, sounds, and visual beauty of our amazing planet.”

Just as her paintings invoke movement, Elley herself is constantly in motion; she loves to travel. She delights in exploration, meeting new people and sharing stories. “My travels often manifest in my art,” Lisa says.

For Elley, painting is a life force.

“Painting makes me feel worthwhile, gives me an immediate inner thrill, immense feelings of joy, touches my aspiring heart and makes me want to become a better person,” she says.

Capturing the all-encompassing quality of light is one of Elley’s main goals as an artist. 

She poetically describes the assortment of lighting in which she finds inspiration, be it “dappled afternoon sunlight peeking through tree leaves, the stark shadows of an ancient European building, or the harsh reflection of the sun off a snowy mountaintop.”

See more of Lisa Elley’s art on UGallery, and be sure to follow her on Instagram.