Lisa Free - Her Work Beautifully Evokes the St. Lawrence River

By: Liz Huff

Volume 14, Issue 9, September 2019

I have yet to discover another artist who captures the feel, and the light, of the Thousand Islands region quite like Lisa Free. For those of you who have never seen one of her paintings, a treat awaits you.  Her work beautifully evokes the St. Lawrence River in its many moods and seasons.

Lisa Free is an active professional painter; watching her at work is magical.

I recently had the chance to take a workshop with Lisa Free, as part of the 1000 Islands Summer School of the Arts.  Many local painters signed-up for this ‘Sold- Out’ 3-day opportunity, and we were rewarded with a great experience.  Lisa shared her palette, her techniques and tricks of the trade very generously, with 25 eager students at the Brockville campus of St. Lawrence College.

Lisa is an active professional painter, largely self-taught; although her mother was a painter and many of her family members are working in creative pursuits. When she is talking to a group, she almost struggles to convey her ‘lesson’ in conventional art, teaching terminology.  But watching her at work is magical.

From observing her decisions about cropping her scene, her gusto in squeezing out great dollops of juicy paint on her palette, to her thoughtful, and long observations about the location and precise hue of each application of her brush, one can learn a great deal. I came away with the word ‘subtle’ as a key for emulating the Lisa Free style – each change of tonality is minor, the small changes in the size of each shape matters, and there is no need to rush. Lisa shared many stories of her art career, the ups and downs, and bloopers we have all experienced, like accidentally ripping apart a large just-completed canvas whilst leaving the Tall Ships Village. Ouch!

Most of Lisa’s work is done in oil, although sometimes she works in acrylic to start an underpainting.  She is careful to follow toxic-free studio painting practices.  Because her pieces take ‘pondering’ at each stage, and time to dry, she will generally have several pieces on the go at once.

"Overcast" by Lisa Free

She works out of her studio at the 1000 Islands Village just east of Brockville. Sometimes she offers ‘paint night’ sessions, and based on photos on her Facebook page, I think adult beverages may be shared.  I highly recommend a closer look at the art of Lisa Free, whether to purchase a fabulous piece, to find an occasion to study and learn with her, or simply to observe ‘your’ beautiful River interpreted by a master.

Learn more about Lisa Free at
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By Liz Huff

Liz Huff is a resident of Kingston, a big fan of the 1000 Islands/Frontenac Arch region, and a dabbler in many creative pursuits including painting, rug hooking and community well-being.
Click here to view Liz Huff's previous articles. (We are glad she is back as it has been a few years since her last article!)

Posted in: Volume 14, Issue 9, September 2019, Artists

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