Eleanor Fisher paints with glass. Not as traditional stained-glass artists do, rather she repurposes glass pieces in a novel interpretation of art, echoing a new twist to impressionism. The glass is sourced from friends, glassblowers, and a glass wholesaler. Skillfully, she cuts each piece and individually carves the thousands of shards with snippers, then affixes them with hot glue to a canvas she’s conventionally painted in acrylic or in oil. A luminescence exudes which only glass can produce. The result is what she calls “glass-shard painting” that is layered, textured, and reflective.
For over 40 years, Dr. Fisher had been a psychotherapist with a thriving practice on the North Shore. In 1991, surgery removed a tumor from her brain. She says, “I was just happy to be alive.”
Miraculously, her recovery was speedy, and she returned to her office within six weeks. However, bodily and cognitive changes were profound. She became more dexterous. “Prior to that I never created any art,” she says. “I was clumsy as a child. Certain movements I just couldn’t understand. With brain trauma, certain unknown behaviors occur afterwards.” She took up boating and golf.
Synesthesia stimulated her sensory pathways, heightening her sense of color. “I love light. I feel colors. Colors have a life to me.”
Throughout her recovery, one word kept recurring in her thoughts: Paint. “I went to Salem and bought art supplies and started to paint anything that came into my head. Butterflies were my first painting.”
Fisher began to educate herself, reading art books and studying the Old Masters. She learned color theory, and continued to paint traditionally for 24 years.
About four years ago, as she tells it, she woke up one morning in tears after a jarring dream. In it, she heard the likes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Renoir speak to her saying she’d learned enough, “now go smash glass and we will guide you.” Glass shards became her new paints.
First, she sketches in pencil, then fills in the background and the subject with paint. “Ninety percent of my works are done with palette knives to build up texture.” Next, she begins the delicate—and hazardous—task of adding glass. She works with bare hands except when using her two diamond-tipped saws. “I bleed a lot,” she says. A painting could take months to complete because of all the detail. But most often she works simultaneously on several.
Among the glass pieces she often will add everyday items: rings, earrings, other jewelry, doll’s hair. “Many things have multiple uses. You know the Yankee saying: ‘Use it up and have use for it’.”
Her sprawling Diamond Hill home in Lynn overlooks the ocean where she draws out emotion from its glittering, undulating surfaces and the sunlight shining on it. It’s more inspirational than palpable however. A good portion of her works depict women, idealized through her mind’s filter. “I was influenced greatly by Eleanor Roosevelt—her courage and her ability to get things done. The women represented in my paintings are parts of all the women I know.”
In their rendering there’s a certain nod to style and elegance of an age gone by—smart, flowing dresses, big hats with flowers or plumes, mink swathed around shoulders—genteel women right out of Edith Wharton’s world. While she mostly works from imagination, three years ago she began painting with live models, “unique, talented, and artists themselves.”
Recently, she’s created animal portraits—cats, dogs, and birds—with a facetious touch. In a canine series her dogs chew on cigars. “I love whimsy,” she says. “Sometimes a cigar is just a good smoke.”
Fisher’s home is also her studio and gallery, and she invites people to view her artworks by appointment. For more information, visit www.eleanorfisher.net.