Sawdust Artists


Lisa Rainey


Rainey Lisa



Lisa Rainey, an oil painter from Laguna Beach, California, works in a colorful, vibrant style best described as impressionistic realism. Growing up in Bend, Oregon, Rainey cultivated an early appreciation for nature and beauty and an instinctual fascination for art. She began drawing and painting at the age of 10 and was encouraged by her parents to take private art lessons in junior high school. After her family relocated to Santa Rosa, California, she discovered Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD), where she eventually received her Bachelor of Fine Arts  (B.F.A.) degree. It was here that she fell in love with color and the luscious medium of oil paint.

Laguna Beach—with historic artistic legacy and idyllic landscape and light—was the ideal place for Rainey to hone her creativity and call home, and she eventually found herself returning there after brief seasons living in other parts of California and Chicago. Rainey loves to paint people, still lifes, and plein air landscapes, but her forte and favorite subject is flowers, especially those of the bright, bold, and beautiful variety. Her work includes large, close-up views of white hydrangeas; pale peonies; bright sunflowers; and delicate daisies, and she often pushes reality to match her dynamic vision. Rainey’s infectious joy and vitality are conveyed through the energetic alla prima style through which she expresses herself: painting directly from life, “all at once,” to quickly capture the essence and immediacy of what is seen. Rainey feels pure joy in the process of creating, and her paintings are fueled by her affectionate openness toward life, especially people and nature. She desires to express her own view of the world, and wants to capture what is so often overlooked.

Recently, her instinct is to move in close, to capture something in the person or object beyond what is immediately seen. The artist’s faith in Christ is one of the main catalysts in her life and art. She believes that great art can direct our attention to something higher, and for her art is a form of worship: appreciating creation through devotion to detail, observing the harmony and beauty surrounding her, and using her art as an offering of gratitude to God. According to the artist, Van Gogh—one of her favorite painters—put it best when he said, “Now I equally believe that everything of a moral, inner, spiritual, sublime beauty all derive from God.” Rainey often feels a sense of order and completeness during the painting process, especially when problem-solving and paying close attention to the nuances in people and nature.

In addition to being a professional artist, Rainey has been a connector in her local arts community for many years. From 2007 through 2010 she ran Rainey Fine Art, a gallery in Newport Beach that was featured in the fall 2009 issue of Newport Beach Magazine. Representing both established plein air painters in the California tradition and emerging contemporary painters, she showed work and organized exhibitions ranging from representational to abstract. Rainey used the space not only as an exhibition venue but also as a creative hub for other art forms. She built art studios in the gallery and worked and exhibited alongside local painters. Rainey also hosted figure-drawing and paint nights, poetry and music events, and more.

Over the last several years, Rainey has exhibited at various venues and open studios throughout Laguna Beach, as well as in the Balboa Art Walk, in Newport Beach. In 2017, Rainey’s color design was included on the cover and in the pages of Jo Situ Allen’s The Accidental Naturalist (Brooks Street Books, Laguna Beach, California). In addition to creating her own personal work, Rainey regularly teaches art to young students and adults. Currently she is an instructor with the LOCA arts-education program in Laguna Beach, while also offering private classes out of her studio in Laguna Canyon Artist Studios.