Her story is a testimony of overcoming limitations and spiritual strength. She was a C.P.A., who was working for a very important international company when she completely lost her eyesight, and at the same time she lost her job. It could have been the end of the world for anybody. For Lisa, this was the beginning of a new and better life. She couldn't be a Chief Accountant anymore, instead Lisa became an outstanding painter.
Interview by Marisa Darnel
ARTIST INTERVIEWS: Lisa, can you tell us about the media and the techniques that you work with?
Lisa Fittipaldi: I began painting in the summer of 1995 two years after I lost my sight. Being totally blind and without benefit of an education in art, I have had to develop techniques to teach myself how to paint. I began as a watercolorist and successfully learned to distinguish by feel the differences in the primary colors. Then I taught myself shape, form, design and commitment to the painting. As a self taught artist I am constantly striving to improve my technical abilities and increase the complexity of the images I create.
Since 2000 I have been teaching myself to paint in oils. For me oil painting is like painting in the dark. There are no physical boundaries to help me gauge where the object is on the canvas and there are no tactile boundaries for distinguishing the color of an object. Given the limitation of not being able to stand back and analyze what is occurring on the canvas, to correct the flaws or gauge the outcome, I just try to improve a little at a time and enjoy myself while doing so. I approach a canvas as a finite space and begin each painting by blocking out all the nonessential elements with a base coat of acrylic or oil paint. I leave the essential parts of the painting to last.
Before I begin a painting I make certain that the “finished” painting is securely seen in my mind. I rarely work on one painting at a time as I find that boredom with a theme or an idea causes me to abandon a painting for months. The majority of my paintings begin with the primary colors and white. Later on in the painting I will add an additional secondary color to introduce a dark or a shadow in the painting. I let the painting breathe about two or three days before attempting any corrections and this helps to ensure that I have not wiped out any brush strokes and not eliminated any item in the painting that my mind desires. Eventually the painting has taught me what I needed to know, and it is deemed finished. I now have acquired the knowledge to utilize, and mix, several types of medium in the same painting, such as oils, watercolors, acrylics and pastels. I paint on many surfaces both textured and smooth like canvas, papers and boards.
"December in Paris" by Lisa Fittipaldi. © Copyright Lisa Fittipaldi. All Rights Reserved.
"The Red Garter" by Lisa Fittipaldi. © Copyright Lisa Fittipaldi. All Rights Reserved.
A.I.: Your paintings have so much diversity and they hold a very unique style. How do you get the ideas for the themes that you do?
A.I.: How long does it take you to complete such realistic and vivid paintings?
I’ve been told that I’m supposed to answer this question by saying, “a lifetime.” However, when I begin to work, I begin six paintings at a time. Paintings generally take several months since my concentration is vital to finish each painting. I have found that if I attempt to rush the process the images rapidly fade but if I work on several canvases at a time the final outcome is more personally fulfilling.
A.I.: Your work has received a lot of praise in Europe and South America. You have traveled a lot taking your art to different countries. Would you share with us some of the feedback that you have received from there?
LF: Each time I have
traveled somewhere in the world, the images of those experiences are
A.I.: You have been interviewed by People, London Daily Telegraph, The Miami Herald, among many other publications. How do you feel with the success that your talents have received?
LF: The world
considers me to be a success because I have overcome extreme hardship
and survived. I am extremely honored that the news media has chosen me
as a positive role model
"Day Dreaming " by Lisa Fittipaldi. © Copyright Lisa Fittipaldi. All Rights Reserved.
"Olé" by Lisa Fittipaldi. © Copyright Lisa Fittipaldi. All Rights Reserved.
"Just For Kicks" by Lisa Fittipaldi. © Copyright Lisa Fittipaldi. All Rights Reserved.
A.I.: Lisa, can you tell us about "Mind’s Eye Foundation": how you created the organization and how it is helping other sight impaired people?
A.I.: What kind of technologies exist today to help people who cannot see?
LF: The Mind’s Eye Foundation provides screen reading software, scanners and computer systems. However, there are literally hundreds of other devices available for the blind and visually impaired each with a specific purpose in maximizing independence for activities of daily living. Some of these devices are mobility and orientation aids like walking guides systems. Other devices available are audio descriptive to enjoy the television or cinema, mobile communications, talking calculators and watches, speech recognition software, braille translation software, and special computer accessories.
LF: Presently, there is a museum tour of my paintings entitled “Blind Ambition” traveling throughout the United States. This is a retrospective showing the transition between my years in watercolor to my present paintings in oils. Accompanying this show is an interactive display which examines blindness and provides some insight into creativity and what it is like to be blind and paint. This year, I will be touring the country on a lecture circuit in the United States. I am also helping to raise funds for children’s hospitals. Later this year I am eagerly anticipating my first European speaking engagements and Gallery opening.
A.I.: Would you tell us about your expectations in regard of your career and your philanthropic organization?
LF: My ultimate expectation is to continue to paint and grow as an artist. I have been invited to write a book on color theory and art for the Artist, and to coauthor and illustrate a bilingual book for children on the subject of blindness with the proceeds going to the Mind’s Eye Foundation and blindness prevention organizations. I will, of course, continue to raise awareness and money for children who are blind and visually impaired.
A.I.: What is a day in the life of Lisa Fittipaldi like?
LF: I own a bed and breakfast in San Antonio Texas so my day begins at 7 am with baking bread and muffins for the guests. After breakfast is served, I usually sit down with the guests for a bit of conversation. Around 10 am I usually go directly to the studio and begin to paint. Sometimes I help my husband with the tasks necessary for maintaining and conducting the business. I usually paint between four and eight hours a day. In the evening, after painting, I usually attend Yoga classes or utilize my exercise equipment at home. At around 9 pm my husband and I have dinner and we spend some quality time together. He always reads to me from the newspaper and we do the crossword together. Then it is off to bed to get some well needed rest before another day of muffins and guests and painting.
A.I.: Thank you very much, Lisa!
More information on Lisa Fittipaldi and her paintings may be found at www.lisafittipaldi.com