From a young age I saw myself as an artist.

I spent time making things in our Cleveland kitchen with my mother, a dynamic and talented woman who painted, wrote for the local newspaper and entered art shows, among other things. Our walls held paintings by local artists.

I often looked through the old sketchbooks on our coffee table filled with fine pencil drawings from the 1800s by my Norwegian great grandmother. I absorbed these influences and further deepened my love of art in excellent art classes both in high school and in college.

Drawings from 1888 by my great grandmother Eugenie Fougner Lassen, born in Bergen, Norway.

My connection with art continued when I studied art in Washington, D.C. As a graduate student in painting at American University, I was influenced by the emphasis on drawing from life and from exposure to art history. My classes sometimes took place at the Phillips Collection, a private museum started by Duncan and Marjorie Phillips. There I could study master Impressionist, Post-impressionist and other works in person, up close.  Then, as a graduate student working in the museum, I furthered my love of the work from this modernist collection. Some of my favorite artists include Cezanne, Van Gogh, Bonnard, Matisse, O’Keeffe, Marin, and Hopper.

I became an art teacher in 1987, starting at a private boarding school in Katonah, NY, continuing after moving to Atlanta in 1995, and retiring after teaching 14 years in an outstanding public high school in Atlanta.  Currently I teach art online, at art centers and in my studio.

Young children and teens are particularly free and fearless. I try to adopt that fearless attitude when it comes to my own work. 

I’m interested in many questions that art proposes. How does something become art?  What does it mean to be an artist? Thinking about these issues has informed my art practice and my teaching philosophy through the desire to delve more deeply into the why of art.

Lisa Guyton