Artist Spotlight: Lise Winne

One wonders if there is something artist Lise Winne can’t do: to name a few, she creates pottery, paints, draws, makes her own line of greeting cards, is a musician, and used to be an art teacher and a curator. She says she is inspired by dreams and haunted by muses, and one lifetime is not enough time to make all of the creations she has flowing in her brain. Her work often has a Celtic feeling about it, and regardless of the medium, Lise Winne’s work shows skill, talent, beauty, and an ethereal grace many would envy.

Studio/Business Name: I have several businesses. Most of my art is made under my own name (my greeting cards and some of my digital art is made under Lilac/Grove Graphics). Here is a list of my businesses (registered DBAs except for my personal name): Lise Winne; Lilac/Grove Graphics (greeting cards and some digital art). Owners: Lise Winne and James Lestrange; Lilac/Goldenrod Records (CD company with some art); Saratoga Faire (music band). Owners: Lise Winne and James Lestrange, with Jeff Belding and Frank Orsini as subcontractors.

Sepia Dragonfly with Border, OSWOA, mini 4 x 6 original ink drawing

Where is your studio based? I work in many mediums, including wheel thrown pottery, so I usually work out of at least two studios. I have had pottery studios all overthe Capital District over the years. I had a pottery studio in Troy, NY for many years, overlooking the Hudson River (a wonderful view to look at day in and day out). Right now I have a pottery studio in the woods in Middle Grove, NY, but will be moving it at the end of June. My painting and drawing is done at home mostly. I tend to work on drawings and paintings in the colder, snowiest months when I don’t feel like going out of the house and wrangling with cold clay (or chapped hands!).

How long have you been creating? I have been creating since I was a child, but started making money at my art in 1988, the year of my graduation from Skidmore College. I graduated from Skidmore with a B.S. in Studio Art and then got my Master’s Degree in Art Education from College of Saint Rose.

Briefly describe what you make & your process. I make so many kinds of art that it won’t be easy to describe my process. Painting, drawing, digital art, wheel thrown pottery, sculpture, costume-making, stained glass art and graphic design are my main mediums at the present. When you are trained as an art teacher you have to know how to work in a lot of meduims to be able to teach these mediums to students. I always made what I expected my students to make and I tried to make everything well. Wheel thrown pottery-making is the most challanging medium and you have to learn from a master potter to be able to do it well. The master that I learned from was Regis Brodie with some instruction from other potters over the years. Regis always taught that it is very important to get drawing, sculpting and painting expertise as this is what adds to making great museum-worthy pottery. Pottery is not just about throwing a pot and trimming it on the wheel. There is an art to decoration, making glazes, making various clay bodies and making underglazes. There is also an art to firing and cooling a kiln. It is a very deep subject that incorporates many mediums into one medium.

Why do you create? I have to. There are always more ideas brewing in my head than I can ever create in a life time and these inspirations keep bothering me. I am literally haunted by muses.

What inspires you? Dreams, mainly. I have so many dreams where I am making something I have never made before. When I awake, I often head into the studio and make it. As much as I would like to make everytthing that pops into my head, I have to say “no” to a lot of it. I am trying (sometimes more or less successfully) to keep to the same kinds of genres that are in my music: Celtic inspired, Renaissance inspired, relationship-inspired, “Pull Me to the Sky” inspired (based on my own song lyrics — a series in art and pottery about birds and trees). There is also a little girl named Kiersten (now a bigger girl) who is a budding violinist. Like many children, she goes through phases of liking certain kinds of subject matter in her art and I follow along. My father has been a muse for my art too and accounts for my making a series of owl greeting card designs.

What are your long-term art goals? Finishing the many greeting card designs I have started but never finished because I got side-tracked by another more pressing inspiration, finishing up the clothing designs, pen and ink illustrations and watercolor paintings I started because I got sidetracked by greeting cards, and then there is also firing pots that have been sitting around for a decade because I got sidetracked by the two former activities. Sheesh! But aside from finishing projects, I’d also like to make and publish books, design some board games, do a series based on master artworks in a variety of mediums, get into more prestigious galleries and finish up CDs that have been waiting in the wings for a decade or more. Can I do it all and not run out of time (or steam)?

Do you sell your work, and if so, where? I sell my work in juried shows, invitational solo and group exhibits, holiday art shows, at gigs and gift shops. I also used to be a curator at Fulton Street Gallery in Troy, NY (where I was very active in showing during the years I was a curator there). Presently I have work at Lower Adirondack Regional Art Council (in the members’ show as well as in the gift shop); Celtic Treasures in Sartatoga Springs, NY; Valley Artisans Market in Cambridge, NY; Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa, NY; Shaker Heritage Society in Albany, NY; and many other shops in the capital District (listed on my website). I also have a minimal on-line shop on ( and a more extensive shop on ( Currently these on-line shops only have greeting cards and small paintings, but I will be adding folk art pieces and small pottery to my Artfire shop soon.

Raven in Autumn, archival giclee print, 8.5 x 11, limited editionAdvice for other beginning artists/artisans? 
First, if you take the path of artist (or musician) you will be out of the mainstream and people who are in the mainstream will not be able to understand you and you won’t be able to understand them. However, my opinion is that it is important not to get too out of touch with the mainstream, at least in some part of your art-making (I learned this by being a musician and looking at the immediate reactions of an audience – where doing a few pieces that are recognizable, will win people over to your more wild, creative work).
Second, since the economy does not favor studio artists, you may have to do some other kinds of things in the field to ensure that you are making enough to live on, while not going too far astray: like teaching art in schools, camps and art centers; working for a well known artist; working for a gallery; working as a tour guide in a museum; working as a curator; working as a set designer, costume maker or doing the theatrical lighting for an acting troupe, theatre or opera; working in the field of art conservation; writing about art or art shows for periodicals or newspapers; taking on commissions; producing posters and CD covers for bands; producing websites; making plug-in graphics for website applications; photographing weddings and family portraits. Or if you are a studio hermit, you may find that you have to make the so-called “bread and butter items” like Christmas ornaments, mugs, $20 earrings; handmade paper; wedding invitations; small stained glass window hangings; painted birdhouses; greeting cards; candles; soap dishes; pot holders; small toys; painted and printed teeshirts; soap. I worked in many of the former professions and made all of the latter items (except soap).Exotic Bird III in emerald green and orange, archival print, 5 x 7Third, get your own website. A website is taken more seriously by the better brick and mortar businesses. Get good relationships going with shops (or galleries) in your area and then spread out from there. If you sell through an on-line venue such as Etsy or Artfire, it is always best to have your own website in case the selling venue gets a bad reputation, gets too expensive or if you want to transfer items to another selling site or you are cutting down on listings. A website works best to direct traffic to your other selling venues, on-line and off, and also displaying all of your work, even pieces that have sold or that just don’t fit in with the venue you are in.

(Lise has some personal opinions and thoughts about selling online, too:  They each have their pluses and minuses. E-Bay has the most traffic and the highest fees. On E-Bay you are also competing with a lot of manufactured goods and you can get buried because of that. Etsy’s fees are a bit lower over-all and so is the traffic. You won’t have to compete as much with manufactured items. Etsy relies on internal traffic and a search that puts renewed and relisted items first, which means that in order to sell effectively on the site, you may have to be at the computer all day or at least several times a day. Artfire works like a website in that it has a monthly fee, but it has excellent (i.e. top) google rankings for each of your items. It has less internal traffic than Etsy, but higher traffic from outside sources. At the moment, my preference is Artfire because of its google rankings, for its ease of listing, for the fact that listings don’t time-out (the way they do on Etsy, for instance), for buyers who don’t want to sign up on a site in order to purchase and for the fact that I don’t have to be tethered to a computer as often. I get more of my art done and I can tend to my brick and mortar stores and art shows more effectively too. The Artfire forums are also much more positive than I have found at other selling venues, attesting to the fact that it is a happy place for sellers. Some items sell better on these selling sites than others. For instance, jewelry, fine art and most paper goods are too saturated to count on for consistent sales. If you are willing to take a lot of time to get a following, then it may be worth it. There are other categories which aren’t too saturated like woodworking, handmade furnature, children’s toys, custom wedding invites, custom party goods and handmade plantable paper: if you are in fields like these, on-line selling can be a great asset to your business.)

Favorite thing about being an artist? Inspirations, visions and ideas that seem to come out of nowhere, but which make for a fulfilled life when implemented effectively.

All images are copyright Lise Winne.


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