Realism portrait of a child
Lisa Egeli, "Scott," pastel, private collection

This is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who will be joining us on the faculty of Realism Live, a virtual art conference taking place November 10-12, with a Beginner’s Day on November 9.

Lisa Egeli: A Portraitist with a Soft Spot for Landscapes

by Laura Vailati
Art enthusiast and Editor at Miami Niche

Lisa Egeli’s passion for art runs in the family. Daughter and granddaughter of notable artists who have made art their profession, Egeli credits her father with the wonderful quality of life he was able to provide for his family, and her mother the ability to have supported her husband along the way, by making the family environment a work of art.

Egeli is known for her established career as a portrait painter – many of her works are preserved in private and public institutions, including the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Maryland State Senate. She maintains that it is up to the artist to act as an intermediary between the subject depicted and posterity, to whom the portraits’ tributes will remain.

Realism portrait of Thomas Mike Miller
Lisa Egeli, “Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.,” 2001

To fulfill this task and for the truthful realization of the portrait, she conducts a number of in-person sessions during which she performs preparatory charcoal sketches, takes photographs, and, especially in the last sessions, interacts with the subject in a way that captures the emotions and nuances. Aspects that are difficult to perceive visually but that are equally necessary for characterizing the subject, she says, “I want to know what they care about and how they look when they are thinking about different things. Otherwise, they are only mannequins.”

If, for Egeli, portraiture is “an art form that gets right to people’s hearts,” equally fundamental is the consideration of naturalistic landscape art.

Realism landscape
Lisa Egeli, “Together,” oil, 24 x 36 in.

“I’m very passionate about nature,” she said. “I’m pretty much a country girl and to paint nature is also a way for me to incorporate this passion into my work.”

Indeed, a love of nature represents a long-standing playmate for her. Like her father, Egeli was born and raised in a small town where she had the opportunity to draw and paint while spending a lot of time outdoors. The particular approach to nature, which she consolidated over time, later led her to become an avid traveler in constant search of unspoiled landscapes where lush nature is the undisputed protagonist without the interference of the human figure, which tends instead to define the story.

A frame from a post-dive painting in Rangiroa, French Polynesia
A frame from a post-dive painting in Rangiroa, French Polynesia

She has an intimate ability to elevate to poetry the landscapes that capture her attention, in the brushstrokes that follow the harmonious rhythm of nature – sometimes long and dense other times short and veiled – and also in the ability to translate the perceived atmosphere into images. Observing Egeli’s works one has a sensory experience that bypasses the visual and in which one seems to be able to perceive the sounds and scents perceived by the artist herself.

This ability is the precious fruit of a long process of analytical and emotional observation that began when she was still a child and which allowed her to refine her senses and enables her to render equally poetic the articulate lightness of a seagull’s flight to the sense of the gravity of a silent snowy landscape.

Lisa Egeli, “Turning,” oil on canvas, 16 x 12 in.
Lisa Egeli, “Turning,” oil on canvas, 16 x 12 in.

The process of observation, together with Egeli’s passion for travel, has enabled her to combine the curious spirit of the traveler with the emotional spirit of the artist. The result is an immersive connection with the place visited that allows her to convey her own vulnerability.

Vulnerability represents an essential human component for Egeli, given society’s tendency to increasingly alienate itself from nature: “This is one of the reasons why I paint places, it’s not just for me because in this way I try to capture a little bit of the essence of the place, bringing other people to take care for it,” she says.

Lisa Egeli, “Silk and Wool,” oil, 20 x 40 in.
Lisa Egeli, “Silk and Wool,” oil, 20 x 40 in.

Mentioning some of the artistic sojourns she has made throughout her life, Egeli believes it is inspiring and refreshing to share her views with artists who have had different paths, approaches, and directions than her own because, as she says, “Our world, the art world is a very big world and there is space for all of it.”

Lisa Egeli will be among the faculty members of Realism Live 2022, for which she is planning a demonstration that focuses on making the initial stages of a painting. This is a part that the artist considers crucial to the proper execution of the work since at this stage the emotional and pictorial components must be properly combined, and about which she says, “I am interested in people understanding my approach to the painting: what I focus my attention on and in which way.”

Visit (Publisher of Realism Today) to learn about opportunities for artists and art collectors, including Art Retreats – International Art Trips – Art Conventions – Art Workshops (in person and online, including Realism Live) – And More!