The World—As She Sees It

Caldwell artist Lisa Palombo uses bright, bold color, contrast and texture to bring her impressionist paintings to life.

Artist Lisa Palombo adds a finishing touch of paint to a print of "Tousled."
Courtesy of Palombo/Peter Jacobs

When artist Lisa Palombo was starting her career as a book-cover illustrator, her agent told her that she might get more work if she toned down her use of color. But she couldn’t do it. “It’s just too boring to use brown and black and green,” she says.

Growing up in New England, Palombo showed an affinity for painting at an early age. Her parents enrolled her in a kids’ summer program at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. Just nine, Palombo was the youngest in her class, but that didn’t discourage her. “I kept wanting to do better,” she says. In time, she completed the school’s pre-college and college programs, graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1987.

While working for publishers in New York City, Palombo lived in Hoboken, spending her days at an easel and her nights waiting tables. Surrounded by concrete, she had to go to her local bodega to find flowers to paint. Now, more than two decades later, Palombo, 46, is a successful impressionist painter, employing bright, bold color, contrast and texture to bring her work to life. “It’s just how I see things,” she says. Her work has been shown in galleries all over the country. In 2010, one of her paintings even appeared in scenes of the romantic comedy The Bounty Hunter. The Essex Fine Arts Gallery in Montclair has pieces for sale, but Palombo says her studio is the best place to see her work.

These days, Palombo paints in her bright and spacious studio in the back of the century-old home in Caldwell where she lives with her husband and their two children. She finds inspiration in local landscapes, from her own yard to public spaces such as the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair and the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit. Palombo takes photos and crops and edits them as a starting point for her work. She then interprets what she sees, using either oil paints or acrylics. “I feel I am painting the way I should be painting,” she says. Once a painting is complete, she works with a professional printer to create fine digital prints that she enhances with another layer of paint, turning each into an original work of art.

Palombo will give a live painting demonstration at her studio during her VIP Night, open to everyone who RSVPs, from 7 to 9 pm on November 22. Her annual Holiday Open Studio will follow on November 23 and 24, from noon to 5 pm.

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