Portland-based painter Lisa Golightly takes familiar scenarios and abstracts them, producing figurative portraits thick with brush strokes of acrylic and nostalgia.
Drawing from her background in photography, Golightly’s work celebrates the unplanned and the in-between: whether that be friends caught in the midst of conversation or a body in motion between water and sky. Growing up with a father who was a painter; Golightly admits that she always cast “an envied glance” at painting, particularly when studying photography at college. “While I enjoyed photography and how it forced me to look at at the world,” she explains, “there is definitely an immediacy that comes with painting.”
Often working from found images, Golightly presents sun-bleached views of beach days and moments by the pool, lusciously watered lawns and suburban streets full of children. The faces are ambiguous, but the scenes feel strikingly familiar. “In the beginning I used family photos,” Golightly explains to us, “and in college I experimented with my own photos, painting on an image and then using that as a negative to print from.” Now she draws predominantly from found or purchased photographs of faces unknown to her: “While the imagery is something that could be from my own life,” she admits, “there is a freedom that I find when I don’t actually know the story or the people in the picture.”
Her work revolves around memory and how photographs have the potential to metamorphose what we remember. The figurative nature of her works lends itself to the blurred edges of memories and recollected stories from summers long past: “I think a painting lends itself to a viewer more when they have to fill it in and finish the story”, she explains.