Growing up on the Upper Mississippi River valley, Lisa Middleton’s bedtime stories were tales of her parents’ adventures in Australia, south Asia, and Europe, where they were backpacking and travelling as teachers in the 1970’s. Family trips in her parents’ RV to places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arizona, and Florida, were the highlight of her childhood. She always knew she would become a traveler herself. Her journey has taken her to places like Nepal, Haiti, China, Western Europe; she has lived in Seattle and Chicago, and now resides in the beautiful state of Montana. Thanks to her mom, a Mississippi historian and writer, old books and old maps were always a part of her daily life.
Lisa took an interest in art at about the age of seven, but at the age of twelve, she began corresponding with renowned “camouflage artist” Bev Doolittle who encouraged her to become an artist. Her art was always around as Lisa blossomed, and Doolittle became a big influence in her life. Other artists who influenced Lisa include Louis Tiffany and Alphonse Mucha. Entirely self-taught, Lisa started out painting abstracts using acrylic and cotton paper, which she sold on the streets of Seattle and in small galleries. She also sold some of her own renditions of Tiffany’s stained glass. At age 22, she began experimenting with painting maps, and over the course of 13 years of trial and error, perfected her skill, and now, painting historic maps is at the heart of Lisa’s art business. Her work, Father of Waters is the map on which her entire business was built. It is a beautiful hand painted map from 1887, depicting the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Delta of the Mississippi in the style of the historic ribbon map.
Choosing maps that tell a nice story, easy to read, have an interesting composition and is accurate, makes Lisa’s maps unique. She makes her own reproductions or paints the historic document itself. Lisa uses layers of watercolor and tea, pen and ink work to restore letters, and pastel and watercolor pencils to add dimension to her beautiful maps. Like very artist out there, she has a reason for creating beautiful maps. In her words, “I would like to add beauty and warmth to their [buyers] lives, and give their home a sense of roots and history. I want to remind them [buyers] of a place that they love very much, and to inspire wonderful memories and a feeling of well-being.” She also wants her art to appeal to the buyer on many levels. Bev Doolittle believes that Lisa has achieved this, stating, “Art just gets better when it can connect on many levels: Artistically, intellectually, historically, and narratively. Lisa Middleton has blended-in the old with new technology, a hard nut to crack these days.”
When not working on her next masterpiece, Lisa relaxes with her books on travel, exploration, and adventure. She also enjoys watching historical dramas. This traveler’s journey is still in progress, and her maps will take you on a journey of your own. Take the journey with her!
Great River Arts