Emerging Artists | Lisa Ober

Spotlighting everyday objects

Lisa Ober, Palette to Palate, pastel, 18 x 24.

Lisa Ober, Palette to Palate, pastel, 18 x 24.

This story was featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Popsicles, lollipops, and billiard balls—these are a few of the things that inhabit still-life paintings by Lisa Ober. The Missouri artist is known for bringing a fresh eye to the world of everyday objects. “Still-life painting is freeing, frustrating, and fun,” Ober says. “Subjects can be almost any color, are readily available, don’t move unless I rearrange them, and there is an endless supply of material.”

Ober studied graphic design and illustration at Washington University in St. Louis. During her sophomore year she began painting portraits for extra money. The process was so enjoyable and lucrative that after graduation, rather than enter the “hot” graphic-design field, she continued painting portraits for several decades. Eventually, however, she longed to also work with more color and more control over the final results.

While Ober still paints commissioned portraits today, about 10 years ago she began exploring the still-life genre. To her surprise, not only did she love creating the various tableaux, she soon began selling most everything she painted. Today her pastel and oil still lifes garner kudos and win awards. For two consecutive years Ober has been a winner in the annual Pastel 100 Competition.

The immediacy of pastel and the purity of its pigments appeal to Ober, and she feels more connected to the creative process when she is gripping a pastel stick rather than a paintbrush. “The pastel is an extension of my hand, and there doesn’t seem to be much distinction between my hand and the surface,” she says. “It’s the perfect medium for those of us who have difficulty delaying gratification. Oil painting requires more patience, but oils have a special depth and richness to them that can’t be duplicated.”

For Ober, paintings can be inspired by a title that suddenly pops into her mind. Or they may originate when an object catches her eye and suggests an intriguing narrative. “Whatever it is that inspires a particular painting, my goal is to generate conversation, make the viewer revisit everyday objects, or be awed, as I am, with what light and color can do,” she says. “And if viewers laugh a little, that is fine, too.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff

OA Gallery, Kirkwood, MO.

Featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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