Lisa Marie Bishop, equestrian artist and FEI dressage rider and trainer, does not just paint what she sees. Legally blind, Bishop’s reliance on her other senses allows her to paint the auras that she feels. Her ability to capture energy transforms into paintings of mares surrounded in clouds of purple as they sail over fences, and chestnut-green geldings extending their blue legs as they “waltz.” Elliman Insider sat down with Lisa Marie to find out more about how she combines her love of both art and horses.
Elliman Insider: You’re are a professional equestrian who has competed in both eventing and dressage. How do you balance your artistic time with time spent in the rings?
LISA MARIE BISHOP: My time in the saddle is my time in the saddle, that’s my education time. I’m an extremely focused rider; when I’m in the saddle, I’m not thinking about art at all. I have a pretty good feel with horses, I’m more of a feel rider and when I’m in the saddle I’m totally concentrated on the education of the horse.
EI: A lot of your work involves painting other people and their horses. How would you describe your artistic approach?
LMB: I am very particular about what pieces I am commissioned to paint. Having someone send me a picture hoping I’ll capture them, just doesn’t do the horse or rider justice. I like to watch the horses, I like to watch the rider. Even though my style is not life-like, the owner always still recognizes their horse. That, to me, is the coolest part because I’m seeing their horse as they see their horse. I think that the owners already see their horse’s color, but they don’t even know it until they see it on paper.
EI: Are there any changes you’ve had to make in order to continue to paint with Stargardt’s disease?
LMB: I have had to make a lot of changes; I can’t jump safely anymore since, even though I have peripherals, I don’t have central vision. There are some colors that are harder to see—yellow and blue are my hardest, and red and grey. My mind sees a color because it remembers it, but if I work too fast, I might pick the wrong color. But I’m not using my vision for painting, I’m using more of a feel. I can still see darks and lights though and when I add color and shading I can see the shadings.
EI: Tell us more about how you feel your subject’s energy:
LMB: If I’m watching someone riding in a barn, I can see the technical aspect of the ride, but if I’m looking at it from an artistic perspective, there’s something specific that’s attracting my attention to the pair. I’m no longer seeing the technical aspect, I’m seeing the connection between the horse and rider, the reason why that particular movement is so good. That becomes the energy, and that really becomes the story of the painting.
EI: What was it like to display your art at the World Cup?
LMB: It was my first time getting my work out in public. I was terrified that what I was putting on canvas wasn’t going to be accepted. But people were seeing things in my paintings and I was shocked and blown away that people saw what I saw. They saw rain, for example, without me explicitly painting the raindrops. And the best part was when school children who were visiting the World Cup were describing things that weren’t apparent—there’s a leg over there, and a color over there.
EI: What’s next for you in the studio and out in the rings?
LMB: I’m very excited that Dressage Today will be showing my opening collection in Loxahatchee, Florida in January. In addition to horses, I’m also interested in capturing city life that is reflected in puddles and I’d like to continue to explore abstract paintings. I’m also training dressage students and I have a barn in Las Vegas where I will start to teach.