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A DIY Approach to Art

Alisa Landman’s open-design home combines the feel of a Soho loft and a white-cube gallery, with its chairs designed by modern architects and bright, abstract paintings illuminated by the morning sun streaming through windows that run the full length of the home. Her view out the window is not lower Manhattan, but Fincantieri’s shipyard across Sturgeon Bay adds an industrial, urban vibe.

Prior to Landman’s days as an artist, she was a special-education teacher in the Chicago area for 28 years. She also tutored about 30 hours a week and was a landlord.

“So I worked three jobs practically my whole working career so that I could come to a place like Door County and do this,” she said.

“Breathe In (All of the Colors)” by Alisa Landman.

With the paint barely dry on her last renovation, Landman moved to Door County eight years ago to become an artist. But first she had to rebuild her home after a sewer line broke and flowed into her bedroom. And then she had to redo the two apartments, and the cottage next door, which, though not in her budget, she bought anyway.

Landman grew adept at tackling projects by finding YouTube tutorials and heading to Home Depot for the needed tools and supplies. It was a long and detour-filled road, but with that behind her, “for the most part, aside from the gardening and landscaping, I return once again to my studio to paint,” she said.
Painting is a source of joy for Landman, and she isn’t happy unless there is paint under her fingernails. Her hands-on, DIY approach is evident in her art – taking classes, watching artists on YouTube and experimenting. Most of her painting is done by pouring acrylic paint onto canvas and then adding an activator.

“The activator helps to determine what’s going to happen in the painting,” Landman explained. “There are certain paint colors that are heavier than others. There are certain paint colors that flow differently than others. Then there’s this activator I use to create cells – all these little round bubbles that are in the paintings. It’s action, it’s chemistry, and if I don’t get it right, it doesn’t work.”

“Cave Point” by Alisa Landman.

Landman doesn’t do pouring art all the time. A recently sold painting had birch trees in an abstract setting, and hanging on her wall is a 48-inch-by-60-inch painting titled “Summer Sunset Dance,” which she made using brushes, scrapers, palette knives and pieces of cardboard to apply the paint and move it around.

“My whole pouring – or ‘fluid art,’ as I should be calling it – is still developing,” Landman said. “I’m still trying out new techniques. But then I also like to just take out regular acrylic paints and paintbrushes and paint.”

She expects to move to oils in the future.

“This is just where I am right now,” she said. “I don’t know how else to explain it, but I can tell that oils are going to be soon. I love the depth that you get with oils and the layering that you do with oils. That’s really appealing to me because there are certain things you just can’t get with the acrylic.”

See more of Landman’s work at alisalandman.com, as well as at The Pearl of Door County, ​​143 S. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay.