My name is Lisa Sinicki and I currently live in Decatur, Georgia but grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. When I was twelve, a professional watercolor artist, Katherine Liu, moved into our neighborhood. My mother, who was always looking for art experiences for me, arranged for me to meet Katherine. Her work was loose, clean, and transparent—very different from the more traditional oil and acrylic still lives, portraits, and landscapes painted by the other artists I’d met.
Being a messy painter who tended toward overworking things until they turned muddy, I stared at Katherine’s paintings to try to figure out how she made them look so ethereal. I decided then and there that I was going to learn to use watercolors.
I’m 57 now. And while I’ve never figured out how to paint like Katherine, I have figured how to paint like me. And how to stop myself before my paintings turn to mud. At least most of the time.
My favorite subjects are fruits, vegetables, and quirky characters. I try to paint in a way that communicates not just what a thing is, but how I feel about that thing. I love strong color—especially purple and turquoise. I love to reimagine what I see and plop in a bit of unexpected color here and there.
Painting is still a hobby for me. I wish I could tell you that I’ve been able to establish a daily practice, but that is still something I aspire to. Over the years, I have taken art classes here and there as my adult work schedule and family responsibilities allowed. I tend to work in spurts. A couple of months with lots of painting followed by several months with no painting. I took a long break from painting from the time my daughter was born until she turned eight or so—old enough not to grab at what I was doing. But no matter what, I always come back to painting.
Over the last decade, I’ve been a fickle artist. I switch back and forth from essay writing to painting to drawing comics and back again. I addition to watercolor I have explored acrylics and oil pastels, but watercolor has always felt like my home base. We have a history together. I love how portable watercolor is—which makes it super easy bring with me when we travel.
I just went through a phase where I was watering down acrylics and using them like watercolors. It actually works and you can add more layers without creating mud. Now I’m shifting back to comics—or maybe you’d call it graphic essay.
My mother died in August and since that happened, I’ve been hearing short essays of sorts in my head that are begging to be illustrated. The first one was about how I have been wearing Mom’s underwear. I plan to write and draw more of these and then post them to my website and social media.
My goal for the year is to just create as much as I can. There is a direct correlation between how often I paint and how quickly I see improvement. I also like to work on several pieces at once and move back and forth between them. I find this stops me from pressuring myself to make any of them have to be good. And when there isn’t any pressure, the paintings turn out better.
For paper, I use Arches and Fabriano watercolor blocks and an assortment of sketchbooks. I’m partial to Stillman and Birn—especially the ring bound ones since the open sketchbook lays flat. I also have some full sheets of 300 pound Fabriano paper I bought on close out like 30 years ago. I’ve been using them sparingly—but the stash is almost gone so I may need to invest in more. I like the way the heavy paper doesn’t warp as much after a few applications of water.
I have collected a bunch of brands of paint over the year, but when I buy new, I get Daniel Smith and Golden QoR Watercolors. The QoR watercolors tend to be really bright colors and don’t fade much as they dry—so it’s easier to tell what your finished painting is going to look like.
About a year ago, I treated self to a few Rosemary and Co brushes. My favorites are the ones with longer bristles—a Chinese brush and a ½” Swordliner—because it’s harder to be exact with them—and that makes my work a little looser.Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in