Reprinted from the WILLIAMSON COUNTY SUN.


Visually impaired artist paints what she feels


It has been said that when a door closes, a window will open. That seems to be the case for Georgetown artist Lisa Fittipaldi.

Mrs. Fittipaldi enjoyed a career as a financial analyst and licensed certified public accountant at an area hospital. But in 1993 a disease destroyed her optic nerves, robbing her of all but about 30 percent of her eyesight and leaving her legally blind. The door to her career suddenly closed.

Two years later, a window opened when Ms. Fittipaldiís husband, Al, brought home a set of watercolor paints to occupy her time. Having no formal education in art other than attending art shows with her husband, Ms. Fittipaldi began to paint. "I began painting as a hobby, something to keep my mind off of life's stuff," she said.

Even though Ms. Fittipaldi cannot see color, depth, dimension or print, it was clear to her husband that she had talent. She describes what she can see as "like a television with bad reception." She is able to detect the shimmer of light and varying degrees of darkness.

In an interview last week at her Georgetown studio called Blind Ambition, Ms. Fittipaldi wet her finger and touched a yellow paint square.

"Feel that. It feels light. There is really no texture to it," she explained. "Itís a light yellow - thatís as bright as itís ever going to be." She did the same thing with other colors, explaining each colorís texture.

"This one is red, but it has some brown in it. Feel the gritty texture?" Just as Ms. Fittipaldi can tell the colors by their texture, she can feel how much paint she is using by the weight of her paintbrush.

"Iím really getting much better," she mused. "I used to paint pans and squares at first, then animals, then abstracts. Now," she said proudly, "Iím trying to do people. Iíve only been painting them since October."

Ms. Fittipaldi does not use photographs when she paints people simply because she cannot see them. She paints her subjects by Ďfeelingí their features which she stores in her mind like a videotape.

"Everything I do is based on real people," she explained as she painted two clowns. Considering she cannot see depth or dimension, this painting suggests otherwise. The depth, dimension and coloring is so clear and concise that, even from a distance, the clowns seem to jump off of the canvas. Ms. Fittipaldi paints only in watercolors.

Although she didnít begin to show her work until this year, Ms. Fittipaldi already has found international acclaim. She has shown her work in South America and Canada among other places. Ms. Fittipaldi is amazed at her quick success. "You just donít get many first-year painters that are able to show their work. It just isnít done."

Some of Mrs. Fittipaldiís first paintings are hung throughout her house as if to serve as a reminder of those early days when she was just beginning to paint. 

"Sunshine Sisters" by artist Lisa Fittipaldi
"Sunshine Sisters"

There are the first abstracts, the first flat paintings, the first people. And then there is the painting of Maleficent, Sleeping Beautyís Witch, richly detailed and spectacular in color. Even the early paintings show a talent and evoke emotions from deep within, which is a goal she aims to achieve with each of her paintings, she said.

"I donít want to be considered a visually impaired painter who is good, I want to be a good painter who happens to be visually impaired," Ms Fittipaldi said.

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