Fall share artist, Lisa Shimko, paints in a signature style with subjects that range from whimsical animals and natural elements to the abstract. Read on to discover what inspires her work.


Waterways and interconnectivity, low country to mountains, micro to macro.

(R) microscopic view of algae

I’ve always loved being “away”; in a quiet spot in the woods, on a boat without anyone in sight except the crabs and birds. Similar solace and curiosity comes in a city, gazing up close at a flower bloom or an old oak tree canopy with the worlds within.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” was an epiphany to me when I read it as a teenager.  Being able to tell a story using our surrounding reality as a backdrop but adding in surrealistic, “magical” elements was eye-opening in the sense that in art rules did not have to be followed.

Still from feast scene in “Pan’s Labyrinth”

Adding to Magic Realism in literature, some directors took on the genre in film, bringing engaging, beautiful, sometimes terrifying worlds to light.  Twisting the “rules” of our surrounded outside reality can successfully give heightened depth to psychological inner truths for individuals and/or our society as a whole.  One of my favorite’s is Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

(L) still from David Lynch’s “Rabbits” (R) still from the bear scene in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”

Speaking of film, now may be the time to mention a couple other favorite directors, David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick.  They are not in the Magic Realism category per se, but used film to psychologically render their own worlds and storytelling styles. Their movies have blown my mind since I was a kid, and are samples of what mastering a craft can look like.


(L) detail of “Mahasamvara Embracing His Consort” (Nepalese wall hanging, artist unknown), (C) center panel of “Enthroned Virgin and Child, with Angels and Saints Bonaventure, John the Baptist, Louis of Toulouse, and Francis of Assisi” by Cittore Crivelli, (R) Duchamp

(L) “NIgredo” by Anselm Kiefer, (R) “Fifty Days at Iliam: The Fire that Consumes All before It” by Cy Twombly

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has many days of my time, it’s one of my favorite places. Here I can zone in on a 15th century Nepalese wall hanging, medieval Italian altar pieces, modern abstract paintings, and chill out in a 13th century cloister or Japanese Buddhist temple.  Its beauty, thoughts, ideas, our humanity and cultures throughout the ages.


“Watermark” documentary by Edward Burtynsky & Jennifer Baichwal

(L) Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer

I’ll wrap up with saying scientists, documentaries, NPR, and music inspire me.  While I drink coffee and paint it’s common for me to be listening to NPR, podcasts, or music.  Summing up, I love learning, whether the topic is how our food is grown, world cultures, psychology of criminals, Arctic exploration, or water conservation, it’s a buffet I never tire of.  An underlying importance is how we are as humans on this planet and how we effect it. Sylvia Earle is an activist/educator scientist I much admire in her longevity of passion for saving the life of our oceans (and therefore saving us).

Music always will be a necessity in life.  In short, I’ll listen to jazz, classical, blues, pop, hip-hop, whatever the mood guides.  John Coltrane’s “Olè” is one of my favorite pieces of all time.


Lisa Shimko is one of the 2015 Fall share artists.