It occurred to me that being an artist was more than just a lifestyle choice when I realized that not everyone thinks the days of the weeks have specific colors.  Aha!  There may be something to this right-brain/left brain stuff.  The main problem for me was acknowledging that there were two warring people in my head/heart: the science girl and the painting lady.

As a physician I wrote everything down: patient's symptoms and their children's names. As an artist I tend to be a bit more casual. I have loaned people paintings without making them sign anything. I have even mailed my work to faraway places without a receipt.  I'm not proud of that. But the disparity in activity describes and defines the actual division that exists between whoever I am at one moment and whoever I am at the next. And it is consistent.

Which brings me to the point of this essay.  I love to paint. And I am a casual and somewhat lazy painter. I do just "enough".  The same way I want to meet and know you and make you laugh, I do just enough work on a painting so that you have to bring some of yourself to the canvas. Then it becomes an unconscious conversation between us.  Of course, I didn't know this at first and I didn't consciously set out to create this give and take.

The explanation of my style came to me as I tried to understand why I love some art and am unmoved by other art.  I like the stuff where you can feel and see the artist painting, the sense of life, just happening:  the spontaneity, the head thrown back in laughter, the immediate smile of recognition.

So the real explanation can even get a little deeper. If we share and you smile, I am loved and am welcome and my world is immense.


When I first started painting, my work was figurative, which means to me I had humans in the paintings.

They were cafe scenes or people in fields picking flowers or self-portraits, (the poor man's model). I loved to paint people arranging flowers as they became part of the bouquet, partially hidden by a giant arching leaf, a face so close in to the rose you didn't know where the flower ended and the arranger began.

But people weren't satisfied. They wanted specific likenesses.  They want to know what they are looking at is really someone they know.  To me the portrait isn't about the face, or the likeness.  It's about the entire space within the frame.  All of the corners are as important as so-and-so's nose.  So I've come to terms with the demands of portraiture and my "integrity".  I do the likeness and I love it, but then I have my own secret fun.   "That chair isn't really orange or crooked!" "I don't remember that rug jumping around like that."  "Are your feet really that big?"

I want my portrait to be paintings first and portraits second.  Margrit Mondavi, who commissioned the 50 chef paintings I did for the Robert Mondavi Winery said, " A portrait by Rise is a painting that someone other than just your mother would want to have."     

Rise Delmar Ochsner