Artist Portrait: Lisa Wells

Sugar Skull Wallet by Lisa Wells

Good morning! A few years back, I did a short feature on a musician that I knew, and reviewed an album of his. I'd like to do a little more of that, as I love art, music, and anything creative in general. This artist's portrait is about Lisa Wells, a personal friend of mine, who's into making art of many mediums. I had a chance to sit down and talk with her, and I'm going to share that with you today.

Magic Woman by Lisa Wells

Hi Lisa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I’m a Nebraska native who’s just recently relocated to Portland Oregon. I received by Bachelor’s of Studio Art with a K-12 teaching certification from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since graduating, I’ve had a lot of different experiences from teaching English in Thailand to helping build a cob house at the Gypsy CafĂ© in Oregon. I love being surrounded by the natural world. I have always been very interested too, in sociology, psychology, ontology -the fields that pose existential questions and spark the imagination. 

What inspired you to start making art? What inspires your art now? 

I’ve always created art. As a kid, it was almost a compulsion. I’d space out in the middle of math class and come to moments later to realize I’d drawn all over my desk. That never went over well. Over the years, a lot of inspiration has come from the natural world and then throughout college it was very existentially-focused. Currently, my work has taken a couple paths: there’s the more heady academic work and the lighter, utilitarian project. My drawings and hand-painted leather items are inspired by the desire to offer art that is playful and easy to access. They feature the kind of designs, subjects, and bright colors that have delighted me since childhood. Most recently, I have been inspired by my work on a sorting, and researching project concerning an extensive collection of antique engravings and lithographs from the mid 1800s to the early 20th century. It’s a lot of Art Noveau work and naturalist library prints. Look to see this new influence in my upcoming leather paintings and drawings.

What is your favorite medium? 

Hmm, that’s a hard question. I really love 3-dimensional art because of the endless possibilities- It’s very outside of the box. I did a sculptural piece where I painted a 6’ x 6’ wall and then mounted plaster casts of faces along with tassled curtains. There is so much I long to explore in this medium. You can use sound, light, tangible objects, time. It’s heavy stuff but totally open. Painting, though, is soothing and very meditative. I can do it anywhere which is great for my current situation working and living in such a small space. I can just focus on how the colors interact with each other and on the repetitive, yet exacting motion of the brush. 

What kind of art are you currently making? 

I’m currently doing a lot of hand-painting on vintage/lightly worn leather. It feels great to give something new life and to be able offer more affordably priced items. I’ve also done some drawing, and currently offer custom drawings of pets. A lot of the work is very representation yet stylized and design oriented. They’re the more commercial sort of pieces that one can wear or hang on the wall, but of which the artistry can still totally be appreciated. 

Is there any kind of preparation, mentally and physically, that you do to get ready to create? 

I have to be at peace with my self. My conscious and subconscious minds have to be on good terms. That means I need to address worries, distractions and any other cognitive clutter before I create. I try to be in a meditative state. Whatever I’m drawing or painting I intensely contemplate. I often unlock great new insights while in this state. 

Is your art for sale? If so, where can we find it?

You can find my art for sale at 

also check out my other work at


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