My clearest memory of kindergarten is of standing at an easel loaded with newsprint, coffee cans full of tempera paint in front of me and a large soft round brush in my hand. I loved the bold colors — red, blue, yellow, black — and the flow of the silky medium as it left the brush for the paper. I fell in love. With a few interruptions brought on by childrearing and a career, I’ve been painting ever since.

As a child I lived close to one of Los Angeles’s art collections, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. My best pal and I used to jump the fence and roam the gardens. When we got hot we'd head to the galleries. It stands to reason that the masters of 18th century English portraiture became early influences in my work.

And although I paint in a realist style, I also draw inspiration from 20th century artists such as Marc Rothko and Milton Avery. Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell and Johannes Vermeer also live in my pantheon.

I am inspired by my garden, my grandchildren, the landscapes we pass along the road and the ones we find inside our homes. As I work on a painting my mind swirls as often I'm not sure exactly what draws me to the subject. I attempt to find resolution by writing down my thoughts in my blog. It helps bring me clarity.

Moving to New England has allowed me to return to the thing I fell in love back in kindergarten. I have dived in, completely soaked. And although I have been painting all of my life it is only now that I am realizing how integral it is to my happiness. Painting has been my solace and my joy.  It is where I both lose and find myself.

Lissa Banks