Lisa Dragani comes from a family of artists. Her mother and grandfather were both painters, and art has been an important part of her life since she was a child.
“When I was really little, my mom would always encourage me to go outside,” Lisa says. “She would get big pieces of paper and acrylic paint and have me go out in the yard and paint. I loved it, and she loved it because it got me out of the house.”
In high school Lisa took classes in graphic design. She originally planned to focus on that when she came to James Madison University four years ago, but she soon realized her real passion was for painting.
“It's a messy thing, but it can be clean, and it's a form you can play with a lot. It's just the medium I'm most comfortable in.”
When it comes to painting, Lisa has tried a little bit of everything. For a few summers she painted pet portraits, getting several commissions from local pet lovers who wanted to immortalize Rover. When she paints for herself she enjoys doing still life's and landscapes. She is inspired by abstract and surrealist artists, such as Salvador Dali, although she herself isn't a big abstract painter. At JMU she had the opportunity to try other art mediums, such as metal and jewelry working, but nothing appealed to her the way painting has.
|Lisa and her piece at the JMU Undergrad|
Lisa's favorite piece got into the JMU Undergraduate Show this past spring, a juried collection that allows students to showcase their work. For this particular piece she put a bit of a twist on the traditional canvas.
“I went to the woodshop and had the teacher help me make a 3D base,” Lisa says. “Kind of like a skate ramp, so the center is closest to the wall, giving it a kind of panoramic feel. I did like a weird drip oil painting of Richmond, with the reflection of Richmond on the James River.”
This painting was one of the few Lisa has been really satisfied with. Pieces can take weeks, if not months, before they are finished, and even then there have been pieces that Lisa has considered painting over and starting again. But it is when she finishes a painting, and is really satisfied with it, that Lisa is happiest.
But painting doesn't always end with a perfect finish. Everything from disliking a still life model to working on a tight budget can present an obstacle for art.
“Honestly, the hardest part for me is patience,” Lisa confesses. “I consider myself a very patient person, but I've been working a lot with oils and it takes a long time to dry. If you do something you don't like you just have to sit there and take it. You have to realize it's going to be on there for a while and you have to come back in a few hours to fix it. Sometimes you're sitting there hating a mistake and time goes by and you find yourself liking what you had hated, even finding things you love about it.”
Lisa has a variety of plans now that she has graduated from JMU. She got a job working at a winery, hosting wine tastings part time, which will give her time to continue painting and look for the kind of work she really wants. Pet portraits were fun, but she doesn't want that to be the only kind of painting she does. Websites such as Etsy allow artists to sell their work independently, and Lisa plans to create an account to share her pieces.
Lisa's big dream would be to someday open up a coffee shop and bakery, where she can showcase her own art as well as the work of local artists. Baking is another one of her passions, and she hopes to go to culinary school this fall and take some classes. Coffee, muffins, and beautiful art? You can expect to find me writing in the corner with a big cup of coffee. Until then, Lisa will continue with her painting, and she can only get better.
|One of Lisa's paintings that would be|
perfect for her coffee shop.