When the youngest of Laurie Fisher’s three daughters was in middle school, Fisher finally had the chance to give in to a long-felt urge—to paint. She had always had an interest in arts and design and had been involved in a few creative cottage industries but no formal training. Invited to a painter friend’s house to try her hand, Fisher was instantly hooked. “I didn’t intend to start painting as a life passion, but I had an itch that I felt I needed to scratch,” she says. “It’s been very organic. One step at a time, one ‘yes’ at a time. I feel like one minute I was painting at my friend’s house and the next I was in my studio in Portland.”
The bright studio overlooking Casco Bay and the Fore River is where Fisher now creates her abstract oil paintings, which have been featured by Serena and Lily, Anthropology, and most recently Portland Art Gallery. “I was so fortunate that Emma (Wilson, gallery director) reached out to me. I love large paintings and they have the space to display them—plus, it’s so beautiful,” says Fisher.
Abstracts were not her first thought, however. “I remember being on Monhegan with my husband waiting for the ferry, and watching someone sitting on a hill painting Manana, making these big bold brush marks. That’s how I thought I wanted to paint landscapes,” she says. “I didn’t intend to make a shift into abstract work, but suddenly I wasn’t painting anything recognizable anymore.”
While Fisher’s work often features bright, cheerful colors, she didn’t set out to paint “colorful, happy, things,” she says. “I like color relationships and almost pushing boundaries with putting colors near each other that sort of vibrate,” she says. The architecture of a painting is also important. “I’ve always come back to stripes and color blocks, and bands of color, and they kind of morph around.”
Having a spacious studio apart from her home in Cape Elizabeth allows Fisher not just the physical room to paint, but also the “room of one’s own” made famous by Virginia Woolf as necessary for women’s creativity. “I have to be painting to figure out what I’m doing next,” Fisher says. “I know that intellectually, but each work will come to a place where I don’t know what to do, so it just has to simmer for a bit. Because she paints in oils, which require drying time, she usually has several paintings on the easels at once—this also gives her the chance to step back and ponder her next move. “A color will come to me as a resolution for one painting, but it will end up being the resolution for a different one. It’s like this big puzzle all the time.”