We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Mounteer-Watson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I pursued this as my career because I am most at peace with myself when I am painting. I am a highly intuitive person, and when painting, I feel that I am picking up on the energies that surround me. Perhaps I am too sensitive. But I use this personality trait in my work, creating pieces that are derived from my emotions and feelings about a place or situation. This also helps me articulate what I am sensing. The canvas speaks for me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always been creative and painted sporadically throughout my life. But developing a style and building confidence with one’s work requires time. When my husband’s company transferred him to Oman, in 2001, I thought we were moving to the moon! It was such an obscure country at the time. It is on the Arabian sea with huge rough hewn mountains surrounding the beautiful city of Muscat where we lived. This city has all white buildings, the colour decreed by the then Sultan. The contrast between the white buildings against the purple, umber, and burnt sienna coloured mountains is spectacular. The sea is a bright sparkling turquoise. The temperature is very hot and some days it was over 115 with 80% humidity which prevents one from venturing out. But for an artist this provides the gift of time. I spent hours in my studio converted from a bedroom looking out onto the Arabian sea. I painted for hours every day with this precious gift of time. We moved to Abu Dhabi and Qatar, each country having different vibrations and beauty of their own. Stark landscapes with straight non organic lines, but always the sea, the sea! I developed a cubist style at first, perhaps too restricting initially, but eventually as the paintings began to sell, I gained more confidence and the paintings became more organically intuitive. I never plan my paintings, I just let the canvas whisper to me, directing the palette knife, where to spread the paint. A friend of mine suggested I put one of my paintings in a local shop. It sold right away. I was amazed. I still felt I was only experimenting and was not ready to have an exhibition. But after that another friend approached the Ritz-Carlton on my behalf and the company saw my paintings and poof! I had an exhibition and sold about 20 paintings that evening. It felt surreal. When that happens for an artist it is the most incredible high, a confirmation that you are on the right track. It gives you great confidence to continue along the path. It is highly motivating also to stay in the studio! Now I live in the English Countryside and I am painting the sound of birds. It is springtime and they can be heard but not seen as they call out for mates. I paint their song and imagine their bodies as they hide behind baby shoots of green and budding pink blossoms. I take long walks and come back and paint what I saw in an abstract way. But Arabia still calls to me. I still paint those doorways, gates, and walls with secret lives behind them. I still paint that turquoise sea against a burnt landscape. Castellated images permeate my conscious, but I think these are also the ancient castles that once ruled the landscape here in this Sceptred Isle. I paint intuitively, picking up on the energies that surround me. It is as if unknown sources are calling to me. I believe that my paintings exude an energy, and have a life of their own. If I try to imitate another artist, that painting seems contrived and does not have life. My paintings tell my story and I avoid being derivative. They are always unplanned except for the colour palette which is where I begin. It is important to be free and not to be afraid to paint over a part of the painting that is fabulous. Because sometimes that part does not fit with the whole. Therefore one must be brave and sacrifice the small for the greater good! I also love painting for particular spaces, matching colours to the tones of the room so that the painting and the room become one with each other. Painting for me is who I am. If I don’t paint, I do not feel whole.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend came to visit me we would walk about two miles through the fields and visit Highclere Castle where Downtown Abbey was filmed. The countryside walks are beautiful around here. They are varied with public footpaths which lead along the woods, green fields and beautiful little village greens. I would take her to Donnington Castle and see the castellated ruins of that magical place, the remnants which inspire many of my paintings. We love our local pubs, especially The Highclere Redhouse. It is owned by a wonderful couple, Simon and Katy and they always welcome everyone with open arms. This area has a very unique sense of community and there is a great feeling of fellowship in this pub where we laugh and share our daily accounts with each other. Whenever I bring my American friends to this pub they are so heartened and amazed by this type of atmosphere. The English pub is very unique and brings us great joy with a communal belonging. Let us hope that many of these centuries- old places survive the long lockdown measure that have taken place over the past year. It would be a travesty to lose them.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I thank the people who encouraged me to paint. My friend, Doni McMahon who lives in Orange Texas approached the Ritz Carlton on my behalf and asked them if they would like to show my work and lo and behold, I had my first exhibition there! From then on, I had much success with my artistic career. I have a friend, Marion Royle who is an artist and we share many long conversations about our work. She has an encyclopaedic cache of information about art. But most of all her work is always harmonious, authentic and beautiful. Most of all I appreciate my husband, Andrew, who understands my need to create and is careful not to interrupt my flow. He is always encouraging and his love for me is uplifting at those frustrating times when the Muse stays away. Painting is all about solitude and he picks up the pieces of the mundane tasks in life so I can get on with my work. I thank all the people who have bought my paintings. Every time I sell a painting it gives me added encouragement to keep going.