Some of Liza Fillmore’s greatest works are no more than a half-inch square. The watercolor and acrylic artist paints her tiny naturescapes as a way to deal with the world’s suffering.
“I can neither be a hero or a voice in the landscape of our times, but I can paint,” she said. “As Mother Teresa said, ‘We can do no great things, only small things with great love.’” Working in her rural home studio south of Traverse City, Fillmore paints detailed scenic views of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Fishtown and other northern Michigan landmarks.
Most are miniatures, but she also does a collection of larger works, focusing on angels. Professionally Fillmore is a project manager for a Traverse City tech firm, but took up painting five years ago. Her paintings are sold both matted and framed, or as brooches, pins and necklaces.
HOW I GOT STARTED
I come from a family that is both creative and inspiring. Artists, musicians, writers, craftsmen, gardeners … you name it. So being creative is very natural; a driving force. I took art classes at Saginaw Valley State University where I majored in sociology.
I am a Celtic harpist, with more than 20 years of experience, but when I discovered that painting was my own creation, opposed to music where I played the notes of another’s tune, it was a like a light turned on.
I discovered that people loved these little scenes. That was the turning point. I will never give up the harp or my gardens, but art is something so internal. It is something I can create in miniature – the world as I wish it could be.
THE STORY BEHIND MY ART, MY INSPIRATION
It is the beauty of our natural world: the dunes, the lakes, sunsets and beaches and rolling coastal waterways. I wanted to share this beauty with visitors to Northern Michigan. So if one of my little paintings reminds them of a favorite place, or view or summer day, then I am happy.
I paint to create the world as I wish it could be: beautiful, surreal, and peaceful. There is always a boat sailing home at the end of a long summer day, or starting out, always a walk on the beach, a garden path or a cozy cottage view. These small joys that make our lives complete.
WORK I’M MOST PROUD OF
My collection of wearable art. These are tiny creations that can be worn on the go so the wearer can be reminded of a happy day in Northern Michigan!
YOU WON’T BELIEVE
All of my art includes an ancient Celtic symbol, the Awen. Dismayed by the often total disregard of core values for many key players in modern society, I use this symbol on every piece of art to remind me to live in truth, wisdom and love. The Awen is a Celtic symbol for inspiration, truth, wisdom and love.
MY FAVORITE ARTIST
All art is creation, so it is hard to pick favorites. There are so many! Beauty is everywhere, but Claude Monet, Josephine Wall, Georgia O’Keefe; local artists Mary Baines, Ruth McGrath, and my beautiful aunt Audrey Gladden are just a few that come to mind.
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS
Deepak Chopra said, ‘If you really want to see your maker, become a maker yourself,’ which means go ahead and create. God is creation!
We are but candles. ‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared,’ said Buddha. So be the light, share the beauty and wonder of creation!
MY WORK CAN BE SEEN/PURCHASED
Evergreen Gallery in Traverse City, Greta’s in Leland, the Dennos Museum Small Works Show in May in Traverse City and at Dood’s Jewelry & Gift Gallery in Ionia. My work is also available at tcartists.com.
Clockwise from top left: Liza Fillmore working on her miniature landscapes. Wearable art. A handful of art. Some of her works feature angels.