Creative Process at Biddington's

Clown Bank Dinhofer painting

Illusionist Painter

CREATIVE PROCESS visits the SoHo studio
of artist Lisa Dinhofer.

Editor's Note: This archived Biddington's article was originally published in 1997, with updates added in 2005.

Lisa DINHOFER: Every object I paint actually exists; I work from life. The space I create is believable--but not real. Because I design my own space, I call myself an "illusionist" painter rather than a "realist".

Lisa Dinhofer "Clown Bank"
Painting on Panel in Antique Frame
Clown Bank Detail

Lisa DINHOFER: I was an art major in high school at Abraham Lincoln High in New York City. Leon Friend taught there. For me, drawing came first; painting came in college. Brandeis had great studios and an intense peer group. I am happy I went to a liberal arts school. I learned how to think. It's important to order your thoughts--whatever your means of expression.

dinhofer graphite drawing
Lisa Dinhofer "31 Marbles & A Mouse"
Graphite Drawing on Paper
Lisa DINHOFER: I decided I wanted to paint figuratively, so I went to University of Pennsylvania for graduate school. Neil Welliver and Bob Engman were teaching there at the time. Every week they would invite artists down from New York City to critique each student's work; it was a great luxury having weekly studio visits.

dinhofer oil on paper Chocolate Cherries

Lisa DINHOFER: Penn had adopted the color theory class Interaction of Color developed by Josef Albers at Yale. It was in this class that I lost my fear of color.

Lisa Dinhofer "Summer 2000 #3"
Oil on Paper

Dinhofer panel painting marblefield 7

Lisa DINHOFER: Early in the 20th century Cubism and abstraction started to change the representation of space. The space in my work is invented. It's flattened--like the space we see on a television or a computer screen.

Lisa Dinhofer "Marble Field #7"
Marble Field #7 Detail
Oil on Panel

detail from Dinhofer painting wings

Lisa DINHOFER: The elements in my paintings are meant to work abstractly from a distance; then as you approach the painting they resolve themselves into specific objects.

Reflection detail from
Dinhofer painting Wings

Lisa DINHOFER: The objects--such as the marbles--in my paintings are very precisely, very realistically painted. You can even tell which studio I'm working in by the reflections from the windows and the objects in the glass. But the space is an imaginary construct.

lisa dinhofer glass bank

Lisa DINHOFER: I've always collected beautiful things; I like embroidered textiles and glass objects. I love to spend hours painting the details.

Detail of glass bank from
Dinhofer painting Americana Crazy

studio set up for painting Aviary

"As her compositions become more baroque, Dinhofer, literally, does not lose sight of her purpose which has remained steady and unremitting. It is hardly accidental that her continuing preoccupation has been depicting objects made of glass. Glass, though solid, is transparent, deflecting and transmitting light at the same time. Dinhofer's bottles, mirrors and marbles remind us that light is the principal component of any great painting, from Duccio to Vermeer to De Kooning."
--Michael Boodro, "Lisa Dinhofer", Arts Magazine.

Studio Still Life Set-up for Painting

underpainting of still life Aviary

Lisa DINHOFER: Even though I work from life, my color and my space are both very contemporary. Contemporary color has an acid quality and an intensity to it. A painter like Wayne Thiebaud places colors next to one another and lets the eye blend it. The contemporary viewer accepts this separation of color. It wasn't the norm before the 20th century--though it does appear in some of David's paintings.

Painting in Progress

Lisa Dinhofer still life painting Aviary

Lisa DINHOFER: When I look at work, I often look backwards because there is little information for my kind of painting in contemporary art. For drawing, I've always loved to look at Ingres. I also like the "Luminists" like Sanford Gifford from the Hudson River School.

Lisa Dinhofer "Aviary"
Oil on Panel in Antique Frame

Lisa DINHOFER: In addition to Thiebaud, among contemporary painters, I always look forward to Janet Fish's shows. And I like William Bailey--his work is very metaphysical. My work is also influenced by writings on art and aesthetics such as: Aristotle's Poetics, Tolstoy's What is Art? and Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word.

lisa dinhofer etching Mouse

Lisa DINHOFER: I hadn't made prints since graduate school, but I returned to printmaking in 1995. It gives me a chance to explore line--it's an extension of drawing.

Lisa Dinhofer "Mouse"
Etching with Chine Collé

Lisa DINHOFER:"Mouse" combines etching with a technique called "chine collé". The chine collé collage stencil makes the shadow. I wanted the sense of movement with the mouse escaping the page.

lisa dinhofer etching Contained Environment 3

Lisa DINHOFER: My "Contained Environment" series was inspired by some old French prints I saw at The Print Fair. These etchings are created using two plates. The outer frame depicts nature at large. The inner one shows nature as captured--preserved within glass. I experimented with ink colors--mixing a Van Dyke brown for the outer frame and a cooler grey for the center plate of the etching.

Lisa Dinhofer "Contained Environment #3"

Detail of Loosing My Marbles #15

Lisa DINHOFER: "Loosing My Marbles #15" is from a series of prints that relate to my large commissioned mural for New York City MTA subway station at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. This print is a mixed-media piece. It starts with printing from an etching plate for the black and white checkerboard, then I color-print the marbles and collage them onto the grid. Finally, using gouache and watercolor, I paint in the shadows and reflections. While it is called an "editioned print" each one is handmade.

Lisa Dinhofer "Loosing My Marbles #15"
Mixed-media Print

Lisa Dinhofer in studio with paintings

Lisa Dinhofer in Her Studio

Lisa Dinhofer is represented in public and corporate collections including:
New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority Mural 42nd Street and 8th Avenue
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
New York Public Library, New York, NY
Pfizer, Inc, New York, NY
The Forbes Magazine Collection, New York, NY
Dupont Corporation, Wilmington, DE
IBM, Atlanta, GA
Cargill Corporation, Minneapolis, MN
CUNY, New York, NY
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Lisa Dinhofer has exhibited in more than 100 solo and group exhibitions including:
2005 MTA Arts for Transit UBS Gallery, NYC
2003, 2004, 2005 Denise Bibro Fine Art, NYC
2000 Pfizer Corporate Gallery, NYC
2000, 1994-1998 National Academy of Design, NYC
1999 Prince Street Gallery, NYC
1998, 1996, 1995 Goldstrum Gallery, NYC
1991 Toyamaya Gallery (solo), Kobe, Japan
1990 Sazama Gallery (solo), Chicago, ILL
1986 Schmidt-Bingham Gallery (solo), NYC
1978 Kornblee Gallery (solo), NYC

Lisa Dinhofer has received awards, grants and fellowships including:
2000 Gladys Emerson Cook Prize, National Academy of Design, NYC
1994 Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship
1988 Millay Colony for the Arts Fellowship
1982 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant
1972 Purchase Award, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Lisa Dinhofer teaches drawing at the National Academy of Design in New York City.


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

COPYRIGHT: Images and information within are Copyright Biddington's, Inc.--except where superceded by individual copyrights of the artists.
Downloading or printing for online or print reproduction of any materials without specific written permission from Biddington's, Inc. is prohibited.

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