Lisa Edelstein Paints Unedited Everyday Moments

The decorated “House” actress, who discovered watercolors during the pandemic, throws it back to the authentic and spontaneous images found in old family scrapbooks—a compelling rebuff to the overly doctored images of today.

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Lisa Edelstein, 56, Los Angeles (@lisaedelstein)

Title of work: Gun (2022). 

Where to see it: “Family” at SFA Advisory (45 White Street, New York) until Jan. 25.

Three words to describe it: Unedited, unfiltered, uncomfortable.

What was on your mind at the time: Making myself a coloring book out of old family photos that told a more honest story than the posed, photoshopped memories we create today.

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: The scale.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: I love telling stories—it’s how I’ve made a living all my adult life. So, for me, painting has become an extension of that. I look for images that tell a story beyond what the subjects necessarily intended to tell. Honest moments before the pose or those completely unaware of the camera. What took me by surprise is the unexpectedly intimate relationship I feel when I paint a moment of a person’s life that they never knew would be studied in the (admittedly) obsessive way I do. Sometimes I feel like a detective, wondering what a blurry object is or trying to decipher a pattern in the décor. Sometimes I feel like a witch because these are old family photos, so I know everyone’s future, even how some of them will die. Beyond all that, whether in my studio or in my trailer on set, painting is a way I can tell stories without waiting for permission from the larger world around me.

One song that captures its essence: “Dance Me to the End of Love” by Leonard Cohen.

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