Inspired response Exhibition Curators Statement by Lisa Goesling

Across The Board by Lisa Goesling

Across The Board by Lisa Goesling


In the Victorian era, designers, came up with the term, “Horror Cacu”, (fear of empty space) to counter the Victorian idea of putting knick-knacks in every little space that was empty. In the 20th century, that concept became “less is more” which guided the minimalist movement of the latter half of the century. The idea is still with us today.

Steve Jobs made a fortune by utilizing the principle of “Form Follows Function” in building his corporate empire (which is ironically neither ‘less’ or ‘empty’). Empty white space became synonymous with wealth and good taste.

There is another stream of thought though that extends back to the dawn of time, which involves the beauty of visual complexity. Greek vases from the Geometric Period (1100 – 800 BC) Persian carpets, Middle Eastern Arabesque Islamic art from ancient times to the present, Renaissance woodcuts and certain paintings, Alchemical etchings, Arts and Crafts book binding, Illustrated manuscripts and much more, are all wonderful examples of another way of thinking.

The Persian rug with 300 knots per inch is prized for its detail. In this exhibition, David and Lisa explore the idea of the complex with amazing results. The viewer is confronted by the beauty of the visual elements and the mystery of how they did what they did. In the case of both of these wonderful artists, we ask ourselves “How on Earth did they do that?” As we try to understand the complexity of what we are looking at, we begin to see the overwhelming beauty of the artwork itself. Like all great detailed objects, the beauty lies in the relationship between the parts and the whole.

Enjoy the experience. It is not often you will see anything comparable.

Written by Steve Sherrell, Gallery Curator

A SEGMENT FROM MY April 11, 2016 Podcast Interview with Sergio Gomez of Art NXT Level and 33 Contemporary by Lisa Goesling

PODCAST #75, available for free on iTunes:

In this episode, Sergio Gomez interviews Chicago-based artist, Lisa Goesling.

Lisa was awarded an Artists Residency with the Studios of Key West for 2016. She was one of six artists awarded a two year Residency from 2010-2012 at the Merchandise Mart of Chicago. Her art appears on the cover of NY Times Bestseller, Column McCann's novel, TransAtlantic, (Norwegian edition) which won the 2015 D&AD Award of Excellence in London, England. Domenic Iacono awarded Lisa Best of Show in the 2014 Less Is More exhibition at the Mitchell Gallery in Annapolis, MD. She is featured on the Cable TV Show, Artist to Artist, is a multiple Award Winner through Manhattan Arts International, exhibits throughout the United States and has her art in private/public collections throughout the world. 

Sergio: I am really excited to have Lisa Goesling on our program. Hi Lisa, how are you today?

Sergio: Well, first of all, I want to thank you for being a part of this Podcast. I am really grateful that you accepted our invitation. We are very excited that you start setting up your show tomorrow, we'll have it all ready for Friday. The exhibition is called, Same Difference and it's in the Art NXT Level Projects/33 Contemporary on the 4th floor of Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. The opening reception is on April 15th and we invite all of our Chicago friends to join us. You are giving an artist talk at 8:00 p.m., correct?

Sergio: We are going to talk about your show in a little bit, but before we do, I always like to go back in time and talk a little bit about your history. Tell us where you grew up, and how you decided to become an artist?

Lisa: Well, I grew up in Skokie, I turn 60 in June so that gives you an idea of the era I grew up in. My Mom was a fashion illustrator and my Dad was a trained Baritone. We were always creating art and singing around the house. He used to sing with Danny Thomas in the war, and put himself through law school singing. It was a creative household, kind of crazy, but fun!

I tell people that my first collectors were the neighborhood kids. I would create coloring books and sell them outside instead of lemonade. I'd set up a table, my feet didn't even touch the ground, and I'd sell all of my coloring books and then I'd rush back inside to make more. 

I started taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at twelve. I loved doing sculpture and painting and all of that kind of stuff, and wandering the halls of the museum. I guess you can say that art was always in my blood.

Sergio: That's fantastic! Tell us a little about where you went to school after that.

Lisa: Well, I went to NIU for two years for design and then I transferred to the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, it isn't even there anymore. I studied Graphic Design for my Father's sake, he was afraid I'd be living out on the streets if I went into painting, that was a big concern of his!

Sergio: Yah, yah!

Lisa: I was an art director for many years, and a graphic designer. I really think it helped me with what I do now, I have no regrets.

Sergio: How do you describe what you do? Your art is really detail oriented and your pieces are just beautiful, such detail! Tell us a little about the medium that you work with. 

Lisa: Right, you know I had cancer back in 2006 and I was looking for a way to get lost while I went for treatments and doctors visits. I discovered scratchboards. They are hard boards covered in a layer of Kaolin clay, which is used to make Porcelain. Then they are covered in a layer of India ink. All you do is use an X-ACTO knife or a tool and etch away at the ink, the image appears in the clay. When you talk about limitations, some people would be miserable with this medium, but for me, I get lost in the details. 

Sergio: And you can do that for hours and hours, right?

Lisa: Hours and hours, I have no idea what time it is!

Sergio: How long have you been working with the boards then?

Lisa: Since 2006, with this particular medium. I was always creating, painting, doing my own artwork. 

Sergio: And you have many of these boards in the upcoming exhibition? We'll talk about that in a minute. Besides the boards, you'll be presenting other types of work, can you tell us about that too?

Lisa: Some of the work is from my Interaction series. There's three different series that I am working with. Spontaneous Combustion, the Interaction series, which is a whole bunch of little characters, actually they were what made up my coloring books when I was a kid, they sort of come out of me, they are all over the house! In this particular series I drew on clear acrylic panels. When you layer the panels and look through them, they become abstract drawings. You'll see that in the show, they are fun to look through.

Sergio: Right, so you are installing them in a pedestal base so that people can look through them from either side?

Lisa: Yes, you look through them, you kind of have to look closely and then you suddenly start to see characters with personalities evolve. 

Sergio: What are some of the pieces that are going to be highlights in the show?

Lisa: Good question, there is one where I incorporated both my nature Eco-Psychology direction with my Spontaneous Combustion series, it's called Out With a Bang. The background is filled with all of these crazy designs, and the foreground has my nature drawings.

Sergio: And the exhibition that we are talking about is called, Same Difference, right?

Lisa: Yes, that's right.

Sergio: And that's because it has all different bodies of work? In the proposal you talked about your work with Eco-Psychology. Can you tell us a little about that?

Lisa: I can, it's actually an amazing thing, and it's real, something that people actually study. The idea of how we feel when touched by nature. It doesn't necessarily mean that we have to be out in a forest, just seeing the visual of something from nature can transport us, a flower for example can make us feel relaxed and better about things. It is the connection between nature and ourselves. 

Sergio: Your work is heavily influenced by that, a lot of your pieces incorporate natural elements, details of plants and flowers. I love how some of them become quite abstract. There is one in particular that I really love, it is a leaf, almost like a dry leaf in the fall with all of the tiny little cracks highly magnified so it becomes abstract. It is a really beautiful piece!

Lisa: Thank you.

Sergio: Tell us a little bit about these pieces, do you collect samples?

Lisa: I do collect, I have bins and bins of actual specimens, dragonflies, etc. You know what is so fascinating to me, the same patterns that show up in a dragonfly repeat themselves in that lacy leaf! 

Sergio: Oh really?

Lisa: Yah, the same kinds of shapes and patterns appear in both. You'll find that throughout nature, repeating designs. It doesn't matter if it's a butterfly or whatever, you'll find the same fundamental designs. 

Sergio: Yah, that's fantastic! Some of those pieces are really, really beautiful! You can almost hang them in any direction, although you always have them up and down, but they can work any way. 

Lisa: You can, or group them together so they form complex designs.

Sergio: In terms of format, some of them are square, which is very approachable. But then you have some longer, taller pieces that you might have them a triptych or diptych. How did you work with those in terms of the images that you are working with?

Lisa: You know, I never design or sketch first, I kind of just jump right in. I really don't actually plan how things are going to evolve on the page. The Spontaneous Combustion ones just kind of happen, they are all really spontaneous I guess. I think that it creates an energy that I don't get if if I plan too much.


Insights from the World of Scratchboards by Lisa Goesling by Lisa Goesling

Friday, November 22, 2013

 Inside of an Iris by Lisa Goesling

 Inside of an Iris by Lisa Goesling

















Cover Image Artwork used on: Transatlantic  by New York Times Bestseller, Colum McCann

Inside of an Iris, Lisa Goesling has been a featured artist on our blog as well as the recipient of two Ampersand Art awards through Manhattan Arts International.  Lisa shares her experience finding Scratchbord.

"If you are an artist, you understand the feeling of getting totally lost in your art. That happens every time I make a mark."

I discovered Scratchboard's in 2006 while undergoing a cancer diagnosis. They are portable, non-toxic and only require only a simple tool to elicit the most incredible details. Scratchboards are a hard surface covered in porcelain clay then a layer of black ink.

Magnifying glass in hand, I study my subject, and then jump right in, layering line over line to create dimension. By varying the amount of pressure I put on the tool, I create nature’s contrasts, values and texture all with the humble line. I prefer to work from the real flower, weed or leaf, but I am careful to photograph them in case they perish before I have completed the piece. My art has been compared to various famous artists who were also consumed with creating values and textures through line."


Lisa Goesling’s Black Claybords of floral compositions have a Dürer-esque level of detail and care. The residency is a good show and I’m glad it’s a little hidden; it’s worth the searching. For those interested in process, it’s there. If you have to know why, the artist is there to discuss it. If you just like poking around in someone else’s stuff (and who doesn’t?) you can do that too. And if you want to see a cross-section of how six Chicago artists take a common medium and run with it, you’ll most definitely get your fill.

- John Coyle Steinbrunner:

The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals, Albrecht Durer, woodcut on laid paper, c 1497

The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals, Albrecht Durer, woodcut on laid paper, c 1497

Unless I am creating a commission, I tend to work on several pieces at one time. That way if the detail becomes too overwhelming in one, I turn to another with a different set of challenges. I have worked on boards as small as 4”x4” all the way to 30”x50”. The smaller boards go everywhere with me, I never know when I am going to be inspired! I haven’t tackled my most recent order yet, a 20”x20” Scratchbord on one side and an Aquabord on the other of a 6’ deep wooden box. 

My art has been compared to various famous artists who were also consumed with creating values and textures through line.

Scratchbord has introduced me to so many fascinating collectors from as far away as New Zealand. Being a juried artist with the Illinois Artisans program led me to a recent invitation to display my art from September 2013 through March 2014 at the Daley Centers’ Cook County Law Library in Chicago. I was awarded an Artists Residency at the Merchandise Mart from 2010-2012 through Tony Karman, (expochicago) and the Chicago Artists’ Coalition. I am a featured artist with Dick Blick and Ampersand Art and have had multiple honors through group and solo exhibitions. My current solo exhibition, Just Scratching the Surface was supposed to end at the end of September 2013 but has been extended. 

Additionally, I offer demonstrations and workshops throughout the area. Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago purchased some of my art a few years ago. They now arrange for me and other artists to display our art and create together with cancer patients and others with chronic diseases. It is interesting to see how hesitant people are initially with the Scratchboards. They worry about making a mistake; I always tell them that anything goes. After a while they are transported through the details and forget about their troubles for a while, just like me.

Some different uses of my artwork include my art appearing on Argentina’s Encendido’s Wine Labels, and the upcoming gift set of New York Times' bestseller Colum McCann’s book,Transatlantic















Wine Labels designed for Encendido Wine, Argentina

In addition to reviews with the Examiner, Fear No Art and several other publications, host Enid Silverman interviewed me for Cable TV show, Artist to Artist in November 2012.

I count my association with Manhattan Arts International as one of my most rewarding experiences. I applied to “Celebrate the Healing Power of ART” because I love to connect with other people committed to the spiritual side of art. I was honored to learn that I was the winner of three awards, an Award of Excellence, the Jill Connor Critic’s Choice Award and the Ampersand Art Materials Award.


'Lisa Goesling’s floral etching on Scratchboard reaches into the dark abyss of space while defining the depth parameters with lyrical petals and foliage seen on iris blossoms. “Inside of an Iris” is a dissection of the various surfaces that piece together this multi-layered flower. By approaching her subjects on different visual levels, as seen here, Goesling commits to gray-scale bringing the viewer into the subtle tones of layers. Blossoms and stems unwind in a circular pattern as if arranged upon a flat surface. Yet Goesling’s use of lyricism in line suggests a series of per formative moments that spin boundlessly.'  -Jill Conner, New York Editor of Whitehot Magazine as well as Editor of On-Verge/Alternative Art Criticism, collaboration between the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and CUE Art Foundation. She is a contributor to Afterimage, ArtUS, and Art in America, Interview Magazine, Performance Art Journal and Sculpture Magazine. She has provided editorial assistance to Dorothea Rockburne."

More Insights from the World of Scratchbords will be featured in upcoming blog posts.
More of Lisa's work and blog:
Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Encendido Wine Label by Lisa Goesling

Encendido Wine, label designed by Lisa Goesling

Encendido Wine, label designed by Lisa Goesling


Lindsay Bremer

What’s in a label? Encendido partnered with Chicago Artists Coalition to find a local artist to develop a label that would bring to life the meaning of “encendido” (passionate, turned on, switched on). CAC worked with five artists to gather design submissions and ultimately, Lisa Goesling’s original grape leaf graphic was selected. Lisa said her “initial intent was to draw the leaf up close, concentrating on all of the fabulous details. However, what evolved was not only a multi-layered leaf, but if you use your imagination, what you can see is the topographical relief of a vineyard and rolling hills.” Lisa utilized an etching technique called scratchboard to create the image, and each scratchboard is an original work of art. Lisa’s label design involves every sense. “Drinking a glass of wine sparks your senses of taste, smell and sight. You can even hear it when it is poured. What I was able to achieve was a sense of touch through the embossed main arteries of the grape leaf. An immediate tactile feeling is created the moment someone reaches for a wine bottle, the first step to a truly memorable wine experience.” We are so pleased to showcase Lisa’s beautiful artwork on our bottle. Its dynamic style conveys the energy and zeal we hope is provoked by Encendido.

Manhattan Arts International:Interview with Artist Lisa Goesling by Lisa Goesling

Interview with Artist Lisa Goesling

An Exquisite Interplay of Elements that Tell A Story, October 28, 2013

Interview by Renée PhillipsArtwork is copyright protected by the artist. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without the artist’s permission.

Lisa Goesling creates art that is etched out of Black Scratchboard. It is influenced by her strong sense of design, paying close attention to the interplay of shapes, textures, contrast, line, and the focus or ‘story’ of each piece. She is one of six artists awarded a two year Artist’s Residency through the Merchandise Mart and the Chicago Artist’s Coalition. She is a juried artist with Illinois State Museum/Illinois Artisan’s where her art is exhibited in three of their galleries.

That’s not all. Goesling was awarded three top awards through Manhattan Arts International’s “Celebrate the Healing Power of ART” juried competition. Her artwork, “Inside of an Iris” was given an Award of Excellence, a Jill Conner Critic’s Choice Award, and the Ampersand Art Materials Award. More recently, in our “Art that Lifts Our Spirits” Ampersand once again chose her art to receive their special featured artist award. Suffice it to say her extraordinary artistic abilities continuously receive accolades.

A one-person exhibition of her art “Just Scratching the Surface” is currently on view at Envision Art Gallery,  3020 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL, through November 10, 2013.

As one of the many admirers of Lisa Goesling’s talent, it gives me tremendous pleasure to present this interview with her.

RP: Lisa, when did you first become interested in art and why?

LG: Art is ingrained in me. My father was a trained baritone, as well as an attorney, and my mother was a fashion illustrator. I am always singing while creating!

RP: Beyond your family providing the genes and nurturing who or what most influences your chosen style?

I would have to say that the ancient art of Asia is my hugest influence. Gong-bi means “meticulous” in Chinese. By strategically placing brushstrokes and deep colors on a page, detailed stories were told through fine art. Japanese artist Tawaraya Sotatsu of the Edo period, (early 17th century) was influenced by the Chinese. He created detailed scenes of nature on screens that were both functional and beautiful. Tawaraya was known for his repetition of lines and contours creating movement throughout his art. 

RP: What current art work or art project are you working on?

LG: I create seven days a week and generally have about six pieces going at the same time. When one becomes too overwhelming, I take a break and tackle something new. (Unless I am working on a commission, of course.) I just finished working on six 3D vases with hand painted drawings across the surface. Those will go into a show in November. I am currently working on my largest Scratchbord to date, 30”x60”, the working title is "Orchid on Steroids".

Orchid on Steroids by Lisa Goesling. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without the artist's permission. 

Orchid on Steroids by Lisa Goesling. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without the artist's permission. 

RP: Your commitment to your art is admirable. It is no surprise that you won special awards in two Manhattan Arts International juried competitions. What do you consider to be the best and/or most accurate comment you have received about your art?

LG: The one word that I hear most to describe my art is, Exquisite.

RP: Lisa, what do you consider to be the most unique aspects about your art that distinguish it from any other art today?

LG: Most people are intrigued by the details, which begin by my studying nature with a magnifying glass. I tend to break everything down into shapes. How does each element work together to create the whole?

My art is often confused with photography or prints from etchings. I spend a lot of time educating people about my medium, Scratchbord. While we’ve all dabbled with them when we were young, creating my art on boards covered in porcelain clay and India ink hopefully elevates Scratchbord to a completely different level.

I love the delicacy of the details and the dimension developed by layering line over line. One minute I am etching away at the ink, and the next my image magically appears in the clay.

RP: Living in Chicago you have access to great art exhibitions. What artist, work of art or exhibition has had the most significant impact on you and why?

LG: An inspiring exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, called "Awash in Color": French and Japanese Prints" was filled with so much detail and form. It was evident how both cultures were influenced by each other through the beautiful woodblock prints. The Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibition, "Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity" tells the story about how art both influences and is influenced by the world around us. Through the eyes of Caillebotte, Degas, Manet Renoir and Seurat, we see the beauty that inspired them to create.

RP: What advice do you like to offer to an aspiring artist?

LG: Keep trying. I think the biggest difference between a successful artist and one who isn’t, is that the former never gives up. If they don’t get into a show, they pick themselves up and try again. And most importantly, they keep at it. The more art they create, the better their creations. Taking responsibility for our lives and recognizing how fortunate we are to be artists is key.

RP: What advice can you offer a first-time art buyer or aspiring collector?

LG: You hear it all of the time, but you must be inspired by the art/artist. The art should speak to you, and keep speaking. I still hear from people who have bought my art. They tell me that no matter what kind of day they have had, they pass my art on their wall and it makes them feel good.

RP: What upcoming exhibition(s) do you have scheduled for 2013 and/or 2014?

LG: Just Scratching the Surface – Solo Exhibition - Envision Art Gallery,  3020 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL, through November 10, 2013.

Cook County Law Library 50th Anniversary at the Chicago Daley Center, through March 2014. My art is on display at the 29th floor Law Gallery, 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago, IL

Streeterville Artisan Market, Chicago 2013, November 9 – November 10, 2013. Selected to show art at Northwestern University’s Lurie Center, 303 E. Superior Street, Chicago, IL

Beauty and the Beast, Swedish Covenant Hospital, February 1 – 28, 2014, a two-person exhibition with artist Len Upin at the Swedish Covenant Art Gallery, 5140 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL

View "Artist to Artist" Interview on Cable TV, an interview and demonstration of Lisa Goesling's art with host Enid Silverman

Visit Lisa Goesling's website: 

Read a Featured Artist article about Lisa Goesling by Karyn Meyer-Berthel on the Ampersand Art website

The Heart of the Arts by Dorcas Tirhas by Lisa Goesling


Chicago is a city that celebrates the arts,  filled with interesting architecture and a lot of good food and friendly people. It is also where many of our students have gone, and will continue to go, through the Overseas Immersion Programme that SOTA has with the Chicago Arts School. During the March holiday I was there and in the few days that I had, I managed to walk about downtown to Millennium Park to see "The Cloud", which I REALLY wanted to see, and the other artistic installations of the city. It was nice to just enjoy Chicago for what it was and soak up the sun that I had brought with me from Singapore;the week before I arrived it had been snowing. The grid-like streets made for easy navigation and the generous dottings of Starbucks Coffee shops became my landmarks (and free Wi-Fi stops!).

The architecture evoked some sense of the past as well as movement to the future and made me wonder what it was like in the 1930's, because the Year 3's would be studying "Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck, in the coming term 2. (See, the curse of a teacher is that we always think about our students even when we are on a 'break"…that's how much we care!) But one very memorable part of the trip was a moment where the Arts and Academia came together. I attended a "Healing Art Therapy" session at the hospital with my sister. I was in Chicago primarily for my nephew's memorial service and this was a session my sister signed us both up for-and I am glad that she did. Not just from a personal aspect, but also from a professional one. The artist running the session, Lisa Goesling, was introducing us to a "Scratchboard", a board made of Kaolin Clay covered in a layer of India Ink. The artist uses a tool to scratch the ink away and this reveals the white clay underneath. Variation in pressure and stroke will produce different values, (depths) of exposure and images can be created and color added if desired. 

She discovered it as a way to deal with her 2006 cancer diagnosis. On her website she says: "Choosing something beautiful to become absorbed in and concentrating on the details, proved to be the perfect way to deal with her cancer. The idea that adversity teaches us to turn the negative into a positive is a great analogy for transforming these black boards into thriving works of art."

She let us jump straight in and try using the medium. I must admit, I was am not an artist in the most plain sense of the word and while the experience was interesting, it frustrated me a little that I couldn't really do anything close to the works she had there. I stopped after a while because I felt it just wasn't working. 

Queen Ann's Lace by Lisa Goesling

Queen Ann's Lace by Lisa Goesling

One of the pieces Lisa had created is featured on her business card. Queen Ann's Lace-a weed. This was the same flower mentioned in the poem, "Cut Grass" by Philip Larkin that the Year 3 students could choose to do for their Poem Book IDU this year. I readily piped in about what the students had researched into the weed; it's short life, the Queen that it was named after who had lost all but one of her fifteen children and how people thought of it to have contraceptive properties. My sister had also been reading a book about Queen Anne from a historical point as well. Lisa had done such a delicate scratchboard of it and I was looking at it from a literary perspective. 

It was a real "Ah-ha!" moment where study of a poem, students' discussion of imagery, history and art all melted into one interesting point. And this point I made an effort to tell my classes once I returned. I told them about the experience, showed them the pictures and let them see that Art and their academics are very relevant together.

From my seven days in Chicago, what I would want to share with our SOTA students, is that the experience of traveling is one that enriches the pool from which you can draw inspiration, express your idea, meet new people, find exhilaration from learning new things and experience excitement when points of commonality are found.

I really encourage students to travel when you can, even locally, and to realize that much of what a writer does is to paint these experiences and sensory encounters in words. Use your art in ways that intersect with your studies and your life outside of SOTA. But most of all, use your art and talents to become better people and help those around you-to give back to the community and help other people. Perhaps this is what makes art valuable and what is truly the "Heart of the Arts".

Mrs. Dorcas Tirhas

Review by John Coyle Steinbrunner, Fear No Art by Lisa Goesling

B & W Orchid by Lisa Goesling

B & W Orchid by Lisa Goesling

Excerpt from interview with 2010-2012 Merchandise Mart-Works on Paper Residency Artists 

Lisa Goesling's Black Scratchboard of floral compositions have a Durer-esque level of detail and care. The Works on Paper Residency is a good show and I'm glad it is a little hidden, it's worth the searching. For those interested in process, it's there. If you have to know why, the artist is there to discuss it. If you just like poking around in someone else's stuff, (and who doesn't?), you can do that too. And if you want to see a cross-section of how six Chicago artists take a common medium and run with it, you'll most definitely get your fill.

John Coyle Steinbrunner

Lisa Goesling Wins Three Awards by Lisa Goesling

Lisa Goesling Wins Three Awards                                         by Renee Phillips, Manhattan Arts International 

Lisa Goesling ( is an artist living in the area of Chicago, IL. She attended NIU and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Goesling recently entered Manhattan Arts International's Celebrate The Healing Power of ART" juried competition. The jurors selected her art work amongst only 56 winning finalists from the several hundred images received from artists of every continent. 

Since its inception, Manhattan Arts International has always attracted the best artists from around the world. Its online gallery and membership program operates according to a strict application process. In this competition, Lisa Goesling's work was not only chosen for an Award of Excellence from Manhattan Arts International, she also received an invitation to join the Manhattan Arts International Membership program. 


In addition, Goesling also won the Jill Connor Critic's Choice Award and the Ampersand Art Materials Award, ( A spokesperson from Ampersand Art states: "Lisa Goesling's work is powerful and passionate; her impeccable design sense and technique in scratch art is unique for this medium. Ampersand Art is proud to support Lisa Goesling's scratch work by giving her the Ampersand Award in this years exhibition. Below: "The Nature of Design-Pattern" by Lisa Goesling. Black Scratchboard, 21" x 5" All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without the Artist's permission. 

About Her Creative Process

Goesling states, "I find the textures, shapes, patterns and repetition of nature incredibly inspiring. My medium of choice begins with a layer of Kaolin Clay, which is used to make porcelain. Once the clay is adhered to the boards, it is covered in a layer of India ink. By varying the pressure in the ink with my simple tool, (it looks like a quill pen) I can elicit a phenomenal amount of detail in the layer of clay."

In an interview she conducted with the Chicago Artists' Coalition as one of six artists awarded Studio/Gallery space for two years at the Merchandise Mart of Chicago, she told Pepper Coate: "I begin every piece subconsciously thinking about the fundamentals of design. I look at an object, generally something from nature, and examine its shape and form, determine if the lines, contrast and textures are conducive to my present medium, Scratchboards by Ampersand. I like to create from the actual subject. However, I always photograph it from different perspectives so that I have good reference material should the actual flower die before I have completed my art."

Creating art of this magnitude requires patience and technical prowess, both attributes Goesling has in tremendous supply. She states, "Getting up close to my subject and paying attention to microscopic details is critical to my process. Dimension is created by layering elements as they appear in nature."

Viewing her art in person offers an amazing experience. "The real magic occurs" explains Goesling, "when the viewer stands back to see the whole image and then comes in for a closer look. While my artwork appears simple at first glance, upon closer inspection, it is filled with such depth and intense detail that it evolves into something compelling and mysterious."

About Her Healing Process

Lisa Goesling has been painting and drawing for over forty years. She began working with Scratchboards in 2006. She explains. "That's when I learned I had cancer. Choosing something beautiful to become absorbed in and concentrating on the details, proved to be the perfect way to deal with my cancer diagnosis. The idea that adversity teaches us to turn the negative into a positive is a great analogy for transforming these black boards into thriving works of art."

Advice for Artists

For artists who may be intimidated by Scratchboard, she offers this advice, "It does take a certain amount of artistic courage to approach a medium like this, given the fact that I don't sketch or erase, I just study the subject and jump right in! It is impossible to miss the spontaneity that defines my art. Unlike drawing on paper or painting on canvas, Scratchboards force me to think backwards from dark to light."

To view more of Lisa Goesling's incredible art work, visit her website at 

You can view Lisa Goesling's winning art in the exhibition "Celebrate the Healing Power of ART"

Learn more about Ampersand Art,

Illinois State Museum Society Artist: Lisa Goesling by Lisa Goesling

Just like each piece of artwork has a story to tell, so does each artist. This is the first of a series of interviews with just a few of the 1,800 artisans in the Illinois Artisans Program. Earlier this summer, I spoke with scratch board Artisans Lisa Goesling of Palatine, IL on her decision to pursue art, her battle with cancer, and her reflections on having a family.

Growing up Lisa Goesling was surrounded by art. Her parents traveled throughout Europe bringing home precious pieces. Some were so small that Goesling would examine them under a magnifying glass. Goesling’s mother was a fashion illustrator and her father was a trained baritone as well as an attorney. While Lisa wanted to choose a fine art career, her parents steered her towards a more secure major, graphic design.

Lisa Goesling at the Merchandise Mart studio

Lisa Goesling at the Merchandise Mart studio

For 30 years Goesling worked creating campaigns, designing brochures, and books, all the while painting and drawing. In 2006 a cancer diagnosis pushed her to focus just on her art practice: “There are no guarantees in the art world. I took a giant leap six years ago. This has been the most intense concentration on my art, and I love it. I wish my dad was around to see it.”

During her cancer treatment Goesling discovered scratchboard, appealing because it is non-toxic and transportable. Scratchboards are coated with a layer of porcelain and then covered in ink. A metal stylus is used to etch away the black layer with detailed lines to create depth. While Goesling was going through treatment people kept sending her flowers, and she began noticing their amazing beauty.

“I’m not a religious person, but looking at the flowers I knew there must be a God. The texture and forms in the flowers are truly breathtaking!”

Working with extreme precision and detail in a media where one can’t erase, Goesling breaks down form into the smallest lines, isolating features and textures.

“I am sitting here looking at a bunch of dandelions. Drawn, they are a bunch of stars floating off the page. In this medium, simple is just not that interesting to me. I like to concentrate on something that will challenge me with loads of details. I have too many ideas. Every day I think, OK, I am here. How can I be productive today? I am not obsessive about it, but I do embrace how precious life is.”

Often Goesling is working on up to 6 pieces at a time at different stages of completion, she diligently spends between 3 and 8 hours daily in the studio. Preferring to work with the actual specimen, Goesling has plants at various stages of drying throughout her studio. She laughed as she described collecting milkweed and other botanics from the side of the road while her 89 year old Mother-In-Law sat watching her from the car, it happens fairly often. Before the object wilts Goesling will take several photos of it to work from, just in case they should die before she has completed her art. She is currently working on several large projects: a collaboration with a furniture artist as well as a grid of 12 pieces 8×8” in size. 

Home studio

Home studio

In addition to a studio practice, Goesling frequently conducts workshops with cancer and pain management patients at Swedish Covenant. It is a powerful experience for Goesling as well as the participants in the workshops. “It is not something I can do all the time. The stories I hear…I am not a therapist…it is larger than the art. One of the cancer patients said to me: You did a whole lot more with your cancer than I do with mine!”

Lisa Goesling also added her advice to other artists: “I have so many different opinions. One of the issues I have is people thinking it is cool to be a starving artist. It doesn’t do any of us any favors. We need to take ourselves seriously, and everyone else will. What we do has value.”

After speaking with Goesling at length about her work, she sent me this insight: I keep thinking about what else I would have added to my interview. I guess the one thing that came to mind is that while some artists only want to concentrate on their art and not lead a life that might get in the way of that. I found that for me, having a family along with so many life experiences, have enriched my art, not taken away from it. I don’t feel the angst that a lot of artists express through their art. And I don’t work hard at finding the meaning of life, I feel like I already found it.

Lisa Goesling’s work is featured at Illinois Artisans, Chicago & In “When Nature Talks” Members Gallery Exhibition at Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center, Rend Lake.

Marigold by Lisa Goesling

Marigold by Lisa Goesling

Pure Wonderment by International Master Bronze Sculptor Shray by Lisa Goesling

WOW, unbelievable skill and strength to control the mind during such an intense process. Fantastic talent is rare, thank you Renee Phillips, (Manhattan Arts International) for sharing-and giving us all a moment to view and experience such skill and brilliance.

To work like Lisa has to do with this medium, is a constant leap of faith, to let go of judgement while working and creating, is a profoundly difficult thing to achieve as an artist in the moment.

But once she starts there is no going back, only forward exposing the image, as if in a subtractionist method —as if she were sculpting. Just thrilling, I am truly blown away by the skill and the control, and the vast freedom that is seen as the images are exposed, stunning!

Best to you, Lisa. To the woman with few fears I would imagine, yeah again for women and our strength to persevere with such grace.

best, warmest wishes,

Shray BronzeUSA, recipient ‘Five Rings Award”

Beijing Olympics-for the arts

Award winning international master bronze sculptor, Shray: Creating Amazing Bronze Sculptures…

International Master Bronze Sculptor, Shray is one of the few working sculptors today who employs the rare Subtractionist technique for creating amazing bronze sculptures.

Chicago Art Exhibits by Jodie Jacobs, Examiner by Lisa Goesling

Broccoli by Lisa Goesling

Broccoli by Lisa Goesling

Colored Pussy Willows by Lisa Goesling

Colored Pussy Willows by Lisa Goesling

Excerpt from Jodie Jacobs Interview, Chicago Art Exhibits

Art aficionados listen up. Sure, it's fun to discover a gallery not on everyone's radar. It's also interesting to see artists at work. Up on the 15th floor at the Merchandise Mart you can do both. 

In Studio 1562, six artists whose output has made it into galleries and shows around town, are painting, etching, drawing and using multi-media to create works for their next exhibitions. 

The space became available as a juried-in-residency about two years ago thanks to a partnership of the Chicago Artists Coalition (think Hatch Projects' and Bolt Residency's West Loop Galleries and Art Loop Open) and the Merchandise Mart. 

The studio was originally called "Works on Paper" according to CAC Executive Director Carolina Jayaram. She points out that the space dictated the size and materials used.

"We couldn't allow toxic chemicals because of limitations of space and in respect to other tenants," says Jayaram. She explains the space became available to CAC about two years ago as a six month renewable lease. 

"It has far exceeded our expectations and time line. It's been a great partnership all around," says Jayaram. 

What visitors will see near the entrance of Studio 1562 are works by the following artists: Lisa Goesling, Mark Moleski, Alexandra Lee, Jaime Lynn Henderson, Zach Mory and Barb Blacharczyk. 


A Palatine artist who said goodbye to publishing and advertising to follow her passion, Lisa Goesling, likes working alongside her fellow artists. 

"It's a perfect fit." she says. "I love the idea of sharing space with all of this talent!"

She also likes having studio space in the Merchandise Mart of Chicago. 

"I love being in the Mart. It's an iconic building," Goesling says. "The other showrooms enjoy having us here. They say that we bring great energy to the Mart. We're amongst designers who really appreciate our art. People from all walks of life visit our space," she says. 

Visitors who stop by will see her black scratchboards so finely etched in naturalistic patterns that they resemble artistic photography negatives. Other boards have touches of colored inks. Goesling is currently exploring photography, mixed media and turning a volcanic ash mix into sculptural objects such as pussy willows. 

Her choice of materials resulted from needing something artistic that was non-toxic to occupy her while undergoing cancer treatments. "I needed an outlet, these boards are portable and all I need is my etching tool," she says.

A former art director and graphic designer who studied drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago, illustration at Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and communication/graphic design at Northern Illinois University. 

"I did not want to do advertising and design anymore. I am happy creating my own art," she says. 

by Jodie Jacobs, Examiner

Chicago Art Critic, Sawyer J. Lahr by Lisa Goesling

Composition of a Coleus by Lisa Goesling

Composition of a Coleus by Lisa Goesling

"The effect appears pencil drawn but has a living, breathing, sculpturesque dimension emphasized by the black backgrounds, creating a positive and negative space rarely seen in life surrounding floras."

Sawyer J. Lahr, Art Critic

Sixty Inches From Center - Lisa Goesling by Lisa Goesling

Lisa Goesling

Open Magnolias by Lisa Goesling

Open Magnolias by Lisa Goesling

Excerpt from Nicolette Caldwell, Art Critic, Sixty Inches From Center's article on Works on Paper Residency at the Merchandise Mart, 2010-2012

...Lisa Goesling, an artist in the Chicago Artist Coalition residency program has managed to literally create new meaning pertaining to how art fits into her life and career. Her seemingly microscopic scratchboards illustrate a variety of flowers and plant life that contrast equally the negative and positive black and white space. She illustrates such fragile and delicate images with such an abrasive technique.

We had a short conversation and Lisa mentioned to me how the residency opportunity has given her the opportunity to really explore her artistic talent in a new direction. After listening to what Lisa had to say I now realize that it truly is amazing how art affects individuals differently.

“I am an artist here and I am one of the lucky people to get to walk up to the Merchandise Mart every day and walk to the art space and be able to create. I feel unbelievably grateful to have this opportunity it came on the heals of my having cancer. That is how I started with the medium I use, which is scratchboard. They were portable and I could bring them to treatment. It would take my mind off of things and I fell in love with the way the light hits the line work I create and the way the composition is against black and white.

In addition to doing these, I also create design on fabric. I feel the more things I have my fingers in with my art the more fun it is for me. My artwork is in several galleries and design studios now. It has just been an unbelievable turn of events. I used to be an art director, graphic designer, public relations director but all I really ever wanted to do was my own art.”

Nicolette Caldwell, Art Critic, Sixty Inches From Center

Jessica Kronika - Chicago Fine Arts Examiner October 21, 2010 by Lisa Goesling

Marigold by Lisa Goesling 

Marigold by Lisa Goesling 


The Chicago Artist Coalition and the Merchandise Mart have created a space for artists. The Works on Paper Artist Residency is a fifteenth floor space where works in progress and ongoing exhibits coexist. The ongoing exhibit at Suite 1562, at the Merchandise Mart, features the works of the six artists in residence. Each approaches the idea of working on paper with a different approach. Inara Cedrins documents signature architecture in linoleum block printing.

Lisa Goesling's works in Black Scratchbpard inspired by the minute details of plant structures. Jamie Lynn Henderson explores commercial stereotypes and the fussy details of femininity with her mixed media works. Alexandra Lee works in handmade paper sculptures, exploring elements of cultural mysticism. Zach Mory works in graphite with intricate details and abstract patterns. Mark Moleski works in india ink and collage, exploring silhouettes and themes such as politics and perceptions of media.  Through these varied points of view, the resident artists share their current work.

Lisa Goesling creates a realm of intimacy with the plants in Black Scratchboards. With a delicacy she handles the value of leaves and flowers through linear textures. The subtle hints of color and lines build luminous and lyrical compositions within the dark background of the scratchboard.  She began her romance with flora years ago with paint.