Lisa Young at Kennedy Gallery in Portsmouth
Morning on the Marsh
Lisa and Rob Young with Travis Roy
NOTE: Travis Roy, paralyzed below the neck in a crash during his first college game as an ice hockey player at Boston University, painted with the brush in his mouth. He was the founder of the Travis Roy Foundation, an organzation to benefit people living with spinal cord injuries.
Art was the Answer
By Lisa Young
“There are times in our life when we choose our challenges and other times when the challenges simply choose us. It is what we do in the face of those challenges that defines who we are, and more importantly, who we can and will become.” Travis Roy
My friend, Travis Roy, told me art was a good way to work through problems. “I can’t even draw a straight line,” I said. He ignored me and went on to describe the ways art helped after his hockey accident. He talked about how painting helped him be present. “I feel incredibly peaceful after an art session,” he said. “You should check it out.”
It was November 2018 and a group of us had gathered at Travis’s lake house in Vermont for one of his legendary dinners. After our conversation, I took a closer look at his colorful artwork. It was hard not to smile.
Two years later and eight months into the pandemic, like everyone else I struggled to understand the new normal. Compared to the trials of heroic nurses and doctors, I couldn’t complain. But I had questions: Would my husband be laid off? Would my son attend college in his bedroom? How many Zoom meetings are safe in a day? Whose idea was it to get a puppy?
I make light of it now, but I’m pretty sure I had a panic attack. Shaking and unable to breathe, I sat down on the couch. My eyes locked on the only piece of original art we owned. Staring at the peaceful mountain scene, Travis’s words rushed into my pounding head: I feel incredibly peaceful after an art session.
I jumped up and rummaged through junk drawers until I found the kids’ acrylic paints. The old, crunchy brush felt great in my hand as I copied each line of the painting. Sitting at my dining room table, I felt more at peace than ever.
I chased that feeling for the next year, painting before, after and during work meetings. Wonderful librarians gathered art textbooks and left them with the other paper bag orders in the library parking lot. I tried acrylics, watercolors, and oils, ruining most of my favorite shirts. My discerning daughter started hanging my art in her apartment and not just because it was free. Her enthusiasm gave me the courage to donate paintings to Travis’s Foundation. The money raised in the silent auction would help people living with spinal cord injuries.
On December 17, 2021 I sold my first oil painting, Odiorne, at Kennedy Gallery in Portsmouth.
I didn’t have a chance to tell my dear friend how he inspired me to paint. Travis passed away in October of 2020. If he were here today, maybe we would go to a gallery and then out for some good food. I would tell him I still can’t draw a straight line, but it turns out they have tools for that sort of thing.
About the Author:
Lisa lives and paints in Stratham, NH where the surrounding coastline and expansive saltwater marshes provide endless inspiration for her artwork. Her oil paintings live where abstract and realism overlap.
“The pendulum swings, but the end goal never changes. I strive to infuse every composition with a sense of calm and a feeling of being present. Art is my therapy, so I like to imagine the tranquility I feel while painting being passed along to anyone who enjoys my work.”