Artist Interviews 2021

Lisa Paskel-Rees  
By Laura Siebold

Lisa Paskel-Rees is no ordinary artist, but a woman of many facets. As a self-taught artist, she followed her intuitive calling to paint, trading her former profession as a yoga teacher for a new creative outlet. Her work asks the question “Why am I here?” – and invites the viewers to find answers. Lisa told us about her experiences in the art world as a newbie artist, her personal thoughts on selling art, and the importance of creating art for oneself. Lisa also reveals how the pandemic has had a positive impact on her art, as she sources from an even wider array of emotions and “a much more loving, empathetic, and compassionate space” for creating now. Lisa is based in Los Angeles, California.

"Wild Ride to Bliss" on Amazon

You create both realistic, as well as abstract paintings, but we can also find common Western elements (like the American Flag, John Lennon’s face) and Buddhistic elements like lotus flowers and a Buddha statue. Which role do specific cultural elements play in your art?

I would consider the expression of the Art that I create to be more abstract in its physical appearance then realistic. The realistic expression lays in meaning and emotion of the Art Piece. My most work thus far seems to inspire us to question our existence, “Why am I here?” Also for us to question and then try to understand the duality that we experience being Spiritual Beings in Human Form. The representation of images, (or one could say- perceived ideals/ideas), such as: Lennon, Buddha, Lotus - etc…, suggest the spiritual wholeness, or the ideal of Enlightenment. We can also consider these images along with more abstract images and colors in the paintings as the journey towards the wholeness of our beingness. Many of the lines and more linear images of these paintings suggest the industrious, material, and consuming parts of being human. The insatiable part of us that continues to take and consume ignorantly. This part of our being that does not consciously experience the unity that binds one and all, but instead, greedily and insatiably takes, trying mindlessly to feed and comfort the discomfort from the emptiness that exists due to lack of true connection. Essentially, we could call this, Nature and Industry. Neither is for or against the other- simply the experience that we find ourselves in- in Western Culture- well quite honestly, everywhere with the exception of a sparse and few, Indigenous Peoples. The Flag in the Lennon painting is broken by the tears of this time space experience. Covid, Greed, Fear- The Death of Lennon- The Lyrics of Bye Bye M. American Pie- on the flip side of this- Hope, Awakening- you see- always some duality. But, one must first wake up from the slumber of ignorance and ask oneself, “Why am I here?” These paintings that I create offer an invitation to Love. To love oneself, to love another. Not in the cultural traditional way, but with a deep meaningful connection within, to the Divine Self- the Soul Hearted Self-Our Inner Being Self. (More info on that can be found in the book I wrote called, Wild Ride To Bliss Lastly on this question, I often hear people express through this past year and a half, “I want to get back to normal.” My thoughts, my feelings, “First, what is normal? And, if our normal was working, why are we in this mess?” Each painting has three parts. The Industrious Cultural Expansion of the Material, the actual Nature (I am referring to Earth, Water, Sky Etc…) in our world, and The Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment-essence of us all.

We are curious about your background. When and where did you decide to dedicate your life to art?

In July 2019, I nearly drowned in an incident while surfing in the Indonesian Ocean on holiday. I came out of that experience knowing I had to paint. I have never taken an art class and I really have no interest in doing so. Prior to becoming this exploring artist, I have taught Yoga since 1985 (I was 19 years old). I have founded and owned eight Yoga Studios in the past called Yoga Shelter, and one called, Mama’s Yoga House. I am no longer affiliated with these studios and rarely do I teach Yoga anymore. I used to be referred to as Mama P, as I taught to over a million and a half people yearly. I no longer identify by these things and titles. I am the Author of a book called, Wild Ride To Bliss. This is a tool book to help one find their own path to their truth, abundance and joy. I have been channeling and articulating Collective Consciousness ever since I can remember. Some people call this Psychic- I call it non-resistance to the all pervasion energy that is everything. I have also had the honor to travel and study with many great Gurus, Shaman and Healers. I have a degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Postural Integration Body/Mind Work. I am the proud mother of two amazingly magnificent daughters from my previous marriage. I am recently married to a wonderful man who has brought with him my wonderful stepdaughter and son in law, and most recently, our beautiful granddaughter!

Which is the most important source of inspiration for you? Do you have a specific procedure which characterizes your style? How do you come up with titles for your paintings?

Nature inspires me more than anything in my art. Spending time outside in the mountains, the forests, in the ocean- anywhere in Nature- is the most meaningful experience for me. Nature is my truest teacher. It teaches me of all things, including how to paint. The titles for my paintings come to me while I am painting. They seem to enter my mind from a deep voice within. I can always tell when I am not painting from an inner connected space because the title does not come and the painting feels vacant to me. In this experience, I dump the piece and go again on another day.

Your website summarizes your work as follows: “My current body of work is a deliberate expression of the duality that we face, in the experience of existing in the modern world, and the tranquility of us humans in our Soul connection. My paintings pose the question, ‘Why am I here?’”– If your paintings ask a question, where can the viewer find the answer?

Great Question. One can learn the answers by Finding them within Oneself. Notice I suggested the word Finding rather than searching or seeking. Searching or Seeking suggests that something is lost. How can the very core of who we are be lost! There are great tools and questions to experience, and many great teachers from Nature itself to other humans- great books and teachings. But nothing is more powerful than one who aligns with one’s authentic Self by getting quiet within themselves. In my book, Wild Ride To Bliss, I offer tools to help one begin the process of Finding. Not finding Lisa’s path, but Finding one’s own truth, authenticity and joy. I am still a work in progress- still Finding! As I mentioned, there are many great books and resources- in my opinion, One can gain much knowledge from reading and teachings, but wisdom can only be attained from the experience of. Find a resource that teaches you to listen and to be on your path of Finding. Don’t be fooled by the bells and whistles of things that are commercialized.

What do you appreciate about exhibiting in galleries and at art shows versus creating unique client-specific pieces? Which challenges do you face for both processes?

Being a newbie to the Art world, I am still discovering all of these things. I never intended to sell my paintings. I just painted. After a month into painting in 2019, someone contacted me to make them a painting. My first commission was for $2800. I was so floored and so excited! For every painting, I have sold since that first commission, I also give a painting away to someone who has admired a piece, or to a charity for auction. My commissions have grown since that first painting sold. I am sharing this part of what I do to hopefully inspire other artists and people in general to give away what one cherishes. I am not saying give it all away- but give to help or inspire. A great teacher once asked me, “Lisa, if you have a loaf of bread and a beggar comes to you and asks you for some bread- what would you do?” I was eager to respond, “Swmaiji, I would share my bread! I will of course give them half.” He was quiet for some moments. Unlike me at that time, he had great patience. “Lisa, you must give the beggar the entire loaf.” Wasn’t it enough to just share?” I asked. His response was something I still work on, “You can get another loaf of bread- or are you also the beggar.” I would give all of the paintings away that I create- I am torn in that duality- I have rent to pay and supplies to get. Then I say to myself, “so! I might soon give them all away.” Perhaps this is the path of art for me? Given that I never intended to sell my paintings, but now I do- I would say the most challenging piece for me is marketing myself. Most of my commissioned pieces have come from word of mouth or social media. I don’t spend much time promoting myself, as I am told that I should. I prefer to paint for someone. In doing so, I am still also painting for me. I find it exciting and rewarding to create a piece in collaboration for someone using pieces from their life in the painting. I like the experience of being in a Gallery for the collaboration and the assistance if offers for connecting with people who wish to attain art. It seems to be less challenging and takes up less of my time. I don’t mind sharing the commissions for the paintings. In fact, I enjoy it when something that I contribute to helps people make money and brings them joy. Exhibiting in art shows and fairs is more challenging because it takes quite a bit of planning and work to set up. I have only done a few of these, and aside from meeting so many wonderfully interesting people, I have to admit it is not my favorite thing to do.

Reflecting on your engagement with art, can you recall a specific experience that reassured you to continue your path as an artist?

I know within myself when I have created a painting that is of something bigger than me; meaning, it is a spiritual experience. I am aligned to Divine energy without resistance. These paintings are true for me. They need not validation. They just are. They exist from absolute connection to love. They express love, pain, suffering, truth, hope, faith- all. If there comes a time when I no longer have this experience, then I will no longer paint. Now, “Lisa who sometimes gets caught up in my own shit”- well, that’s another story. Remember, I didn’t paint to sell. But, now, that people are buying my art, I sometimes feel vulnerable and a tad insecure. I catch myself wondering if they will like it. I even have said to myself, “Who are you to sell your art for thousands of dollars- shit you’ve only been painting for two years.” This feeling never lasts very long and I find my way back to aligning with the highest of vibrations and I remind myself that I just paint. I am not about being in the results, so I just paint. And then there is peace and enjoyment in the creating and in the exploring of this art.

You started creating from natural and intuitive sources without a specific training. Can you share some advice for individuals who would like to follow their artistic calling to create but struggle how to start?

Just paint or draw or sketch or photograph etc… for the sake of doing it. Don’t be concerned about the appearance or the skill, or the Results!! Scribble, dabble, explode away and open your heart and free your emotions to the moment. So much will come forth. Don’t judge!!!

Are there any artists you would like to collaborate with in the future and why/why not?

I am always open to collaborations. Everyone has something to share. I have no particular concern for which artist that collaboration occurs. It could be Van Gough (alive) or the nameless artist on the street. Collaboration is a beautiful experience. Often it becomes more about life than the art itself.

We are curious about your future ambitions as an artist. Can you give us an insight into anticipated goals and projects?

I am excited to see what comes out of me using painting to expand, as I continue to grow and FIND my way in this artistic expression of life. I love to paint big pieces! I would be lying if I said that I don’t like selling my art now, but I would like to come to a place where I just give the paintings away. I have shared that I paint to paint and this is most important. Please don’t misunderstand; I love the flow of money, too. I love when someone buys paintings. I also love to give them away. Perhaps I will continue to do both- sell and give away- or give away… I would love to have people come to me for more personal commissions. I would love to be in more galleries. I would love to share this expression with many people. I would like to inspire other artists to give away art when they make a sale. Or to simply give some away from time to time. There are so many ways in which we can use our art to help others and to inspire people to be better in our world.

Do you feel that the pandemic has had an impact on your imagination or process of creating? Elaborate.

The pandemic has put all of humanity into a fight or flight response, whether we are conscious of it or not. It has greatly impacted me and inspired me to share and create from a much more loving, empathetic, and compassionate space. Like many people, I have felt so many emotions, from fear and anger to the deepest sadness and, then again, hope and love. The pendulum of emotions has swung massively. The vast expanse of the unknown has been both my biggest fear and my greatest refuge. It is in the unknown that I have found my deepest connection with what I consider to be my most authentic Self- Inner Being- This transparent, all pervasive, infinite Self. My paintings reflect this experience of divine connection, as well as the fear- the ignorance of humanity- impact on cultural idolization- I sometimes mock or express with passion such as in The Woman of Color Series. I purposely suggest that we are of One Race! We are Grace and Beauty. I hold these pieces strongly up in the face of ignorance that has created so much hate. What hatred we have seen over the years. What horrific behavior and painful displays of prejudice and greed. The pandemic has brought out the worst of people, and in many cases the best of us. I know one thing for sure- we vary in degree, not kind. My imagination is not at play in my art. My art is energy channeled into a creative flow that derives itself into a painting. The suggesting of Imagine(?) in the Lennon piece situated in the flag was a direct message for us to look at what we are doing and halt! For the sake of life and peace for all. The process of creating has not changed for me because of the pandemic. I have, however, accessed more emotion and used these feelings to become more. The limitations continue to lift, as I allow myself to feel more deeply for myself and others with empathy and compassion.

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