GUEST ARTIST: “Expression Is The Need Of My Soul” – The Art Of Liza Gonen

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

expression is the need of my soul
i was once a vers libre bard
but i died and my soul went
into the body of a cockroach
it has given me a new outlook on life ”
Archy & Mehitabel – Don Marquis (1878-1937) 

Unlike Archy, I have no idea who or what I was in a past life, but in this reincarnation, my artistic soul resides in a woman who lives In Israel, with her spouse and three young boys, living together in our house at a moshav (village area).

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Lioness – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

My name is Liza Gonen, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself and about my art. I was born in 1977 with the soul of an artist, I was always into art and painting, ever since I was a little girl. In high school, I studied art and graphic design. Later, I studied graphic design & interior design, got my ‏‏‏‏practical engineer degree and worked for some years as a graphic designer and as a kid’s room designer for a major furniture company in Israel.

Painting & Watercolor

My painting style and medium changed several times over the years. My start was very expressive and almost abstract, I explored different kinds of materials and techniques, and my painting style became highly realistic at a period when I painted exclusively with oil paint on canvas.

Though my painting technique got better and better, I felt that emotionally I drifted a little bit apart from my art.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Giraffe – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

I started painting in watercolors, it helped me to regain my soul, and it all happened by chance.

My first son was born, I was left with less free time to paint. With my second boy, that time shrank even farther and with my third baby boy, I started to cynically call myself: “Late Night Painter”. (somewhat like the use of the phrase “Sunday’s painter”)

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Zebra – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

What’s more, I wanted to keep my kids away from a living surrounding filled with toxic mineral spirit’s fumes and paint which may be a hazard to their health.

Watercolors were the perfect choice, dries fast, dilutes with water, and takes little space.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Cheetah – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

With watercolors, I rediscovered myself. I found new freedom. You can never totally control the medium, sometimes it does as it pleases. So many “happy accidents” which showed me the way to a deeper emotional expression.

Painting Animals

I don’t see myself as a wildlife painter or an animal painter; it is probably just a phase. In the future, I see myself painting a diversity of subjects, but at present in my art, wildlife does take a big role.

I wonder what would it be like if in the next life my soul will go into the body of a lion, or an antelope. How does it feel to be an elephant or a deer?

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

African Elephant – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

Here comes to mind a memorable scene from the movie “Highlander” an 80’s cult film classic. Where the older immortal Ramirez (Sean Connery) teaches the younger immortal Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) how to mentally connect with a wild deer, and in some way, actually become the deer.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Maybe all of us already have some distant memory of being a wild animal in a past life.

I’m just kidding, I don’t really believe in reincarnation, it’s just a metaphor. But the animal portraits that I paint, are actually self-portraits, I paint myself, or at least, an aspect of myself. I paint the lion in me, the deer in me, the bird in me.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

White Tailed Deer – Heaven & Earth Series 31x41cm

I believe, for that reason, many people can relate to my painting because, they are as well, a part of their soul, which is just like that animal that they see in the painting.

Earth Wind & Fire

The fire is the life force, it can also consume and bring death. In the Savannah, the fire of the lion might be the doom of the antelope.

I use colors in a symbolic fashion, as well as a visually expressive part of the painting.

The earth and the air, together with the fiery life force, symbolizes spiritual or mental elements in all living beings.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Axis deer – Heaven & Earth Series 31x41cm

I made the deer in this painting like an earthly sculpture bursting from the ground, his head and horns like tree branches growing upwards, stretching to the sky. A kind of a merge of the deer, with the heaven & earth.

Color and subject both have a symbolic part and expressive role.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Rhino – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

The watercolor medium, like water, has a flow, a mind of its own. It allows for an artistic dialog for me the artist (the creator) with my art (the creation).

For me, These elements feel very powerful together.
Oh, my… I really love to paint.

Process & Materials

Let me tell you a little bit about my painting process:

Every painting starts with reference material. I always prefer to work from my own taken photos. If I need to use reference material other then my own, I will choose to work from videos rather than still photos. From videos, I can get a better feeling for the animal which I paint, its movement, and life force.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

When I have a clear idea, I’ll dive right in, but sometimes, I’ll make a sketch then color it, as a study for the actual painting.

Usually, I’ll start with a very solid drawing done in graphite, on a quality watercolor paper.

Sketch by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

On top of the drawing I build many glaze layers, first considering solidity in form, and when I have it nailed, I let myself go free, purring my soul onto the paper.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

10c. Forever Young Axis Deer – Heaven & Earth Series 31x41cm


I Mostly use Magnani Acquerello Toscana, it’s a 100% cotton, 300gsm, acid-free, cold pressed watercolor paper. It has a nice texture that takes the graphite well. It preserves the details and does not smear.

The colors are lifted really well from this paper. The water takes enough time to get absorbed in it, so I can easily put something down and then wipe it off if I changed my mind.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Liza Gonen - Doodlewash

Antelope Nyala – Burning Savanna Series 31x41cm

I use Winsor & Newton artists’ watercolors, these are very pigmented and have nice granulation. When it dries every spot is unique and irregular, a world of its own.

I also use Mijello Mission Gold watercolors, they mix with the water so well, and can cover large areas really fast, they too are highly pigmented and keep much of their vividness after they dry.

The Mijello watercolors are less granulated than the Winsor & Newton colors and so can be a better choice for some areas of the painting.

A New Outlook

My PictureOnly recently, I came to know about the artistic community on the internet.

So many amazing artists, such an abundance of creativity. I found inspiration through the art around me, I received so many kind words and a lot of encouragement.

I discovered Doodlewash®, and I was stunned, such a wealth of minds, artists, educators, art lovers, what a treasure.

Me and you, we are so fortunate to live and work at such exciting times.

Liza Gonen

Recommended12 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Mary Roff 5 years ago

    So much emotion in your beautiful paintings. The animals really touch the heart and soul.

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      Thank you so much Mary, One of my motivation in art is to connect with your heart and soul.

  2. June Hadaway 5 years ago

    Fantastic colors and art

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      You’ve made me blush.
      Now my cheeks have color as well.

  3. David Cohen 5 years ago

    Dear Liza…
    Your art is spectacular. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us.

  4. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Your work is so beautiful, and truly echoes your philosophy of a connection between all things!

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      Thank you Sandra, And i’d like to echo your complement back to you. 😉

  5. rona 5 years ago

    So talent my love💜 so beautiful.

  6. coyotespirit 5 years ago

    Liza…energizing art and insightful perspective on life! Good job!

  7. Ellen Levi 5 years ago

    Amazing work! You’re very talented…

  8. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    Your animal paintings are fantastic.

  9. Susan Cuss 5 years ago

    There is power and beauty in your paintings,all with a touch of mystery. Fabulous! Thank you for sharing your story and process.

  10. Teri Casper 5 years ago

    Fascinating story and love your animals that look better than the real ones.

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      Teri i am happy that you liked, somethings in art we strive to transcend life, but like Picasso said: “Art is the lie, which reveals the truth”.

  11. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

    Liza, I am mesmerized by your art. it’s rich with color and detail but also wild with emotion. I feel the spiritual power of each animal. You pull each animal out of the paint the way that sculptors release their work from marble or wood or whatever medium they’re using. I think this is why your art doesn’t look tortured but free and energetic. Very inspiring.

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      Thank you, Sharon, My painting process, for the most part, is indeed like an amalgam, of freedom and control.
      I always feel the freedom, and when I start with a sketch I do it lose and free.
      The first step of the actual painting is very controlled, I really do think of the subject as a three-dimensional living sculpture, I keep it tight on the paper, but inside everything starts to boil.
      The next step takes courage. At this point, the painting can be easily ruined. It takes a leap of faith. (Like the leap of the cliff, at the end of the Highlander scene).
      The courage to be free.
      Most frightening but also the most rewarding phase of the painting process.

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

        Now I understand why your art looks so alive – the exhilarating leap off the cliff shows.

  12. Liza Gonen 5 years ago

    Teri i am happy that you liked, somethings in art we strive to transcend life, but like Picasso said: “Art is the lie, which reveals the truth”.

  13. Very nice paintings and your drawings are fantastic, Liza.
    I totally agree with your conclusion about the power of social media in connecting artists nowadays, that is the rocket fuel!

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      Thank you very much Violeta.
      And thanks for the marvels of technology, which made this communication possible.

  14. Nay Aung 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your passion and expression!!!You have a very energetic style!!!

  15. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    your work is truly stunning and the life you add to the animals with watercolor, the movement expressed with the splashes of color is so wonderful.

  16. Liza Gonen 5 years ago

    You are kind Jennifer, thank you so much. 🎇🎅🎄🦌

  17. Janneke Booister 5 years ago

    Thank you for showing your artwork and the soul that produces such beauty! I enjoyed every bit of it.

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      It’s my pleasure Janneke, I am so happy that you enjoyed it.

  18. Pamela Smith 5 years ago

    The soul of these animals is reflected through the way that you paint,thank you for sharing your insight..

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      I am glad that you see it that way, This kind of make us, “Soul-Mates”.

  19. MMcBuck 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your inspirational story, and your beautiful watercolors! Makes me want to visit the zoo to take photos! 🙂

  20. Sandra Gilbert 5 years ago

    Wow, your paintings are beautiful. Looking at them makes me itch to grab a brush and have at if myself.

  21. Liza Gonen 5 years ago

    Thank you so much. 🌷🌼🌹🌻💐❤

  22. museorigins 5 years ago

    These paintings are so beautiful. And your story too Liza

    • Liza Gonen 5 years ago

      Thank you museorigins, I am so happy that you liked it.

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