Liz Hentschel

I read somewhere that art begins at that point where living is not enough to express one's own life.
And I agree completely, because there has always been in my essence the need to express my inner feelings, of understanding and representing the world around me, in visual terms.

I always wanted to be a painter.

Ever since I was a girl, I remember myself painting the things and beings that surrounded me: my dolls, the flower vases of my mother, the objects in my room... at some point, when I was about 13, I began to do my first portraits, asking my brothers and sisters to pose for me and trying to make sketches of my school mates; during my classes of Biology amd History, I took great pains to illustrate the lessons with my best possible drawings. I even made my first intents to paint myself in the mirror, which I realized was a tremendously serious endeavour.

Liz in her studio in Tepoztlán.

But this didn't stop me. Throughout my school and university years, where I studied and finished the career of Social Anthropology at The Universidad Iberoamericana in México City, I continued painting. I became a researcher and teacher, I did long fieldworks in different regions of Mexico, I wrote a book; later on, I married and raised two children, was a housewife and a mother, but I never abandoned my dream. I painted still lifes, landscapes, the portraits of my children, the traditional  feasts of my country, the markets of Mexico, architectural motives that catched my eye...

At the same time, I was attracted to observe and carefully study the works of the old masters. With the loving support of my family (my parents, grandmother, aunts and uncles and, above all, of my late husband), I began to form a marvellous collection of art books, which became a part of me until this day. Rembrandt, Dürer, Raphael, Kaspar David Friedrich, Turner, Botticelli, Vermeer, El Greco, Velázquez, Monet, Cézanne... each and everyone of them was a guide for me, a mirror where I searched for beauty, perfection and my own identity.

 

My first media were the most simple ones: pencil and charcoal, then watercolors and pastels. Oil painting came later, when I realized that I needed to learn a more sophisticated language to express myself, a proffessional teacher who would introduce me into the secrets and theory of such an admirable and difficult technique. This teacher, fundamental for my Art education, is Lenin Rojo. At this point, I became aware that it was important to explore the human forms and anatomy, so I attended for years a Workshop of live Nude Drawing. How important would this be! To cultivate the art of painting cannot consist only of idealism and romantic elements, but there has to be a rooting in the praxis of the real, physical world, a scientific dimension. Among other things, this is what I learned from the Nude studies. Then came the observation of the expressions of a face, the deepness of a landscape, the chromatic behaviour of colors, the composition, the contrasts of light and dark, of cold and warm tones, the transparency and opacity of pigments... a whole world of knowledge that can only be attained by long years of experience.

 

To complement my formation, I attended other classes , like for example the workshop "Outdoor Portrait Painting", with Professor Cedric Egelis of Cape Cod, US.A. He taught me how to handle a palette knife. I followed a Japanese calligraphy course with the painter Kunio  Iesumi. And more recently, I learned the technique of the egg tempera and the application of gold and silver leaf with Alicia Wiechers, who introduced me into the detailed and complex world of the Byzantine icons and the Renaissance methods of Fra Angelico and Botticelli.

 

At this point in my life, my interests had expanded, painting more subtle themes like religious images, angels or mythological figures. And then one day I found myself portraying imaginary representations of songs that touched my soul somehow. The first song that I made a painting of was "Alfonsina y el Mar", composed by Ariel Ramirez and Félix Luna. It tells about the inner world of the Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storny, which I shared deeply at that certain moment in my life.  I am an incurable romantic.

"Alfonsina and her Sea", by Liz Hentschel. Oil in wood on crete.

Then came another song by José José, one of my most beloved Mexican troubadours. It was a phrase of his song "El Volcán" that struck me, 'igual que una mar en calma, igual que un golpe de mar...'. Combined with another phrase of Francisco Céspedes, which says: 'las lunas de este sueño que he inventado contigo' , it resulted in my  painting entitled "Two Moons".

"Two Moons", by Liz Hentschel.  Pastel on Cansson paper.

Surrealism had entered my threshold.

 

From then on,  I began my collection of the songs of the Beatles. I had followed and loved them for so long, since my adolescence!  And suddenly, an inner voice said to me: I have to pay an homage to these fabulous guys who have given me such happiness during my whole life!

 

It began with "Eleanor Rigby ", whose lyrics had always intrigued me and transported me to a magical and mysterious realm. What did Paul McCartney mean with his strange phrase '...wearing a face that she keeps in a jar bay the door'? This idea was revolving in my mind for many, many years (10 years to be exact), until I finally knew how to depict this character.

"Eleanor Rigby", by Liz Hentschel. Oil on Canvas.

By then, I didn't know, or even guess, that this would be the first piece of a whole collection! But after finishing "Eleanor Rigby", I felt compelled to paint "While my Guitar gently Weeps", a song which I had adored for decades. First, I didn't know  clearly how the painting would look like, but one thing I knew for sure: it had to include a portrait of George Harrison and it absolutely had to be in blue-greenish tones... that was the color in which I had always visualized this fantastic song as I listened to it.

"While my Guitar gently Weeps", by Liz Hentschel. Oil on Canvas.

And on and on it went. Ideas flooded to my mind. Which would be the next one?

 

That was the way that I painted "Across the Universe", "I'll follow the Sun", "Nowhere Man", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Let it be" and all the rest of them. I finished a number presently, but I am still working on more, which I will present to you in due time.

 

I love life, colour, beauty in all its forms. And, like Shirley McLane once said , I am a compulsive sharer. That's the reason why I paint constantly and continuously.

And that is why I made this Web Page: to be able to share my emotions of a lifetime, the result of years and years of pursuing my inspiration, the search for the unperishable in the perishable, the expression of my love for the art of painting, and for life itself, which is the biggest gift one can have.

 

                                                                                                                                                                     Liz Hentschel

                                                                                                                                                       Tepoztlán, Morelos. México

"Dark Accents" (Self-Portrait) by Liz Hentschel. Oil on Canvas.