We were lucky to catch up with Lisa Botto Lee recently and have shared our conversation below.
Lisa, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Do you think your parents have had a meaningful impact on you and your journey?
Here’s a shout out to you Mom and Dad. You did an awesome job as parents and bringing me into the world of art. I was born in northern New Jersey and hale from this wonderful family of artists. I am proud to carry on this family tradition as the fifth generation of artists that date back to mural painters in northern Italy. I have been living in south Florida for over twenty-two years and my studio overlooks the everglades. My parents met at the Art Students League in NYC. My Dad spotted my Mom in the gallery and it was love at first sight. They have been incredible role models and I can’t thank them enough for their love and teaching me everything they know about the artworld. Throughout my childhood, they took my family on many road trips throughout the country that seem to involve every art museum and fabulous exhibition they could find. From Niagara Falls to the Rocky Mountains, I loved it all. One of my favorite places to visit was Yellow Stone National Park. To see moose, black bears, buffalos, elks, eagles, mule deer and antelopes up close in their natural settings was so exciting to me. As far back as I can remember, I was drawn to my father’s studio. I was captivated by watching him paint and draw. I loved the smell of the paint and wanted to learn from a very young age. My father, Richard A. Botto is an equine artist who paints champion thoroughbreds and specializes in harness racing. My mother and Nana inspired me with their beautiful watercolors. They were all art teachers as well. I am grateful and blessed to be born into this artistic family. They are my heroes.
Lisa, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am a representational artist that paints portraits and wildlife. My childhood experiences took me in a natural direction of what I love to do today. Whether I am painting people or animals, eyes are very important to me. My aim is to bring you to their presence and draw you into a sensitive perspective of their world, even if it’s a grizzly. I also do commission work and welcome it when I can. Portraits for all occasions and family pets. Sometimes, I am asked to do memorial portraits for families in which I consider a true honor. Throughout the year, I continue to exhibit in national and international competitions.
There are many hours, hard work and challenges that go on behind the scenes of the life of an artist. It takes many years to hone your skills. It is a process that is always evolving. I will forever be challenging myself to see how far I can take my art. Not everything is worthy of a frame, but every once in a while, something special happens. Not too long ago, I found out my painting ‘Beyond the Window’ will be going up with SpaceX in a time capsule on the moon. I entered an international juried exhibition called “Shelter” which was in direct response to the global pandemic seeking works that evoked shelter, solace, and safety. This was done in collaboration with 33 Contemporary Gallery and PoetsArtists platform. This terrestrial catalogue called “The Nova Collection” will exist as part of a lunar edition nickel time capsule headed for the Nova-C lander launching with SpaceX sometime in 2022.
I am also an art Instructor at the Coral Springs Museum of Art. Working with students of all ages and levels is extremely rewarding to me. Some of the classes I teach are Intro to Drawing, Portrait Drawing, Figure Drawing, Still Life Drawing and Oil Painting from a Photograph. In the summer, I will be teaching cultural camp programs for students ages 5-17. One-on-one private classes are available. To register, sign up through www.coralspringsmuseum.org or call 954.340.5000
: Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
My mission is creating meaningful narrative art with people and wildlife. It’s the story that intrigues me and what is happening in the painting. I am more curious to create sensitive, inspiring and powerful pieces that challenge me. Co-existence between wildlife and the human experience throughout time fascinates me. All nature plays an important role in keeping our ecosystems thriving. Iconic species such as the American bald eagles, grizzly bears, and gray wolves, are among the most famous ambassadors of the natural world, but bees, fish, owls, and all species are no less important for our survival. We need to nurture these wild communities, and as an artist, I am moved to paint them to bring their attention to the forefront as a gentle reminder of the natural world around us. Human interactions with wildlife are a defining experience of human existence. Art influences society by translating these experiences across space and time. It builds bridges between diverse cultures. I envision a future in which people coexist, respect each other’s space and appreciate these majestic creatures. I love the quote by philosopher Aristotle who wrote that “Art not only imitates nature, but it also completes its deficiencies.” As an artist, I want to fill those pockets. Art from yesterday, today and the future is a gift to our world.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
When someone connects with my art it’s really rewarding, and when they do, I am grateful. Social media is a wonderful tool because it gives artists the chance to be seen anywhere in the world with the click of a button. What I love about art is that it speaks to people of all ages, backgrounds and countries. Its language is universal.