Local Artist Liza Hathaway Matthews Takes Her Art to New Spaces and Places

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Liza's painting

It was on a bitter cold but sunny afternoon when I sat down with Baltimore-based painter, Liza Hathaway Matthews in her Woodbrook house overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Roland. A 1999 grad of MICA, Liza’s been getting a lot of press recently: two of her paintings appear in the February 2015 issue of House Beautiful and textile company Cotton & Quill has picked up her designs to produce fabric and wallpaper for interiors.  As an painting major with a minor in interior design, the Garrison Forest alum is living proof that sticking with your passion, despite working full-time and raising three kids, can lead to success.

She shares with us how she got her start, how she manages her busy life, and what inspires her work.

Brightside Road matthews' house

BFB: How did you get your start?

LHM: I attended MICA for painting and interior design, and then started working at a commercial interior design firm. I found that it really didn’t keep my interest, and so I took a different tack and started doing fundraising for the United Way.

BFB: That’s quite a change! Did you continue to paint?

LHM: I painted when I had time, but I also had three children, so my painting time was very limited. I worked on the decoration of our houses, so I kept my hand in. As the children got older, and I changed jobs, I found more time to paint and started getting back into it. When we moved into this house over the summer, we converted one of the rooms into a studio where I can work without worrying that I am in the way of things… and I can spill paint on the floors and not worry too much!

BFB: What media do you paint in?

LHM: I use mostly acrylics, some oils and even Crisco Oil! I tend to use kitchen utensils rather than paint brushes. And by that I mean off-set knives, spatulas and the like. I like layered paintings, and applying the paint using kitchen utensils helps it go on in thicker layers and makes it easier for me to manipulate it. Regardless of what I paint, there’s always a little bit of green in it!

It’s a new thing, but I am trying to incorporate gold, silver or pearlescent paint into my work. It creates such a reflective surface and makes the paints shimmer. These paints give the painting depth and texture and create interest.

liza's paints

BFB: Where do you show your work?

LHM: I have had shows in some of the local galleries and shops. Last summer, I held a show at the Antiques Exchange and In Watermelon Sugar in Hampden. I’ve also had some of my paintings in model homes in Bozzuto Homes developments, so that’s been great exposure. I also work with an art broker who brings my work to new clients.

I am now working with interior designers, some local and some national. Celerie Kemble in Florida had a spread in the February House Beautiful Magazine, and two of my paintings were featured in one of the rooms. And I work with Hillary Thomas in Los Angeles. I frequently lend things to designers to show to their clients on approval.

I also accept commissions. I work with the client to decide primary colors of the paintings, and on dimensions and subject. Sometimes, instead of one large painting, I will create a triptych or a diptych. It frequently works better in the space, and it makes a statement.


BFB: Everyone’s on social media these days. What about you?

LHM: Ha! Of course, I am! I have a very active Instagram account (link) and try to post something to it every day. It’s very gratifying to get instant feedback on my work. And I have a website, www.lizahathawaymatthews.com, where I try and showcase some of my recent works.

BFB: Can you talk a bit about your style?

LHM: I love botanicals and flowers. I am working on a technique for marbleizing, hence the Wesson Oil! And I am wild for Chinoiserie – I do a riff on the traditional Chinese paintings of flowers on silk. I like layers and textures and depth in my paintings. I also love collages, bits and pieces… I do the backgrounds as sort of a water-colored wash, or I marbleize them, and then do the painting, adding to it in layers and colors until it’s finished.

BFB: What other projects are you working on?

LHM: I am working with Cotton & Quill, an Alabama-based textiles company. We are turning some of my prints into fabrics. They would make fabulous sheets and bed linens! I am also producing giclée prints of my works.


Meg Fielding

Meg Fielding writes the local interior design and lifestyle blog Pigtown Design. She enjoys dual citizenship with the US and the UK.

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