Lisa Goldfarb paints extraordinary pet portraits and outdoor scenes – influenced by expressionism, her love for animals and being an outdoor enthusiast. She also gave one of the funniest, surprising and inspiring interviews yet.
A graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, Lisa Goldfarb is probably best known for her pet portrait paintings, which have been commissioned by world-famous artists and celebrities. Her art work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in Germany, New York and California, and she’s been profiled on A&E Television and German television.
On top of that, Lisa inspires us by being enthusiastically supportive of other creators, all her outdoor sports activities, her sense of humor and positive attitude, and by helping senior citizens with technology. Yeah, Lisa Goldfarb is pretty awesome!
We became friends with Lisa back when all of us still lived in Brooklyn, New York. Despite Lisa being from Allentown, Pennsylvania, she always seemed to be the epitome of a Brooklynite – a true fine artist with a sassy sense of humor.
After a stint in Augsburg, Germany, she’s been thriving in Santa Monica, California, for about a decade. She almost has us convinced we should move there next… because through her activities, stories and images, Lisa makes LA appear to be an outdoor paradise (vs. a big city or huge parking lot, depending on your attitude).
Last but not least, Lisa makes an excellent case for something we’re trying to convey with Happier Place: nature is not only found in the countryside, but also in the city. You just have to go outside and find it – as she does. Even if you don’t have a park, a beach, mountains or a trail nearby, Lisa’s paintings of city scenes show us that pieces of nature that can be found all around us.
What do you do?
My favorite thing to do is go on really long bike rides. I’ve completed two century rides this year raising money for MS. I skate every Friday with the Friday Night Skaters. Meet us at 9pm at the Santa Monica pier for a 2-hour tour of the West Side!
I’ve pretty much hiked every trail in the Santa Monica mountains. I really like to be active, and I enjoy experiencing the same place or route at different times of days and seasons and imagining how I would paint them. Sometimes, I actually do paint them; other times they just stay locked away in my imagination forever.
I have a lot of momentum doing animal portraits, mostly of the canine or feline variety with the occasional rabbit, chicken or lizard. I especially love lizards! I also paint a lot from the scenes I encounter on my adventures.
This week, I painted a funky house with amazing Christmas decorations that was just calling out to me. I just finished and shipped out a dog commission today.
Yesterday, I started a new large painting with figures. It’s different than what I usually do, and I’m excited to work on something new.
I also do tech support for seniors and really enjoy helping them make sense of the crazy new world with too many small buttons.
Why do you do what you do?
I try to do what I’m good at, what excites me, what feels good…and of course for Facebook likes. Ha ha.
My father said: “Successful people do what they’re good at.” I was lucky that a love of art and the outdoors was cultivated and encouraged by my family.
Drawing, painting and long treks in nature were always part of my life. So there was never a question of who am I and what should I do? I always was an artist and nature lover.
General Happy Place category?
Basically, I’m happiest when I’m in motion; getting a lot of exercise while enjoying someone’s company and experiencing new surroundings. I enjoy sharing my experience. Exercise releases endorphins and makes me high. And I like novelty.
I’m also really happy if I’m in a location where I can come across wildlife, specifically reptiles and amphibians. One of my favorite things to do is go “herping” with my brother, Jack Goldfarb, who is a famous herpetologist and an amazing photographer especially of the scaly and slimy kind.
I’m also always happy to watch a beautiful sunset.
Specific Happy Place locations?
I’m lucky that I live in Santa Monica, so I don’t have to choose between the mountains, beach or city. I like the variety.
I’m most happy when I’m skating or biking really fast on the beach path when there aren’t too many people on it, hiking in the Santa Monica mountains with a friend and not seeing anyone else on it, or kayaking in Malibu.
Nothing like other people to ruin my happy place. Although I do like visiting new cities and walking them from end to end. So I guess I would say: my happiest place is in-between places!
My least happy places are in a crowd of people, in an elevator, on an escalator, in a noisy bar/restaurant or rock concert, in the perfume section of a department store, any place where people are smoking, clothing stores, hospitals, prisons, Disney Land and the Vegas strip.
What do you always bring out into nature with you?
It depends on the length of my hike. If I’m out for an hour or two, I just put on some sun lotion, sunglasses and put some money, my id and iPhone in my pockets. For a longer or hot hike, I bring a small pack with water, a Clif Bar and a piece of fruit, a layer or maybe a hat – if I remember.
Do you have any Happier Place tips?
Wear comfortable, supportive sneakers. Bring water and sun protection.
When I ride my bike, I put a tea bag in my water bottle for some caffeine along with a couple of teaspoons of sugar and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Why pay money for all those expensive energy drinks?
I always wear padded bike shorts and arm warmers/sun protectors. Also: When riding a bike with your tight padded bike shorts, regardless of your gender, do not wear underwear!
I love my Pearl Izumi windbreaker bike jacket. I like to keep my iPhone and ID in my front pocket. I like that it has reflective material on it, so cars can see me; and it has sleeves that you can zip off when it gets too hot.
A dream destination (in space or time)?
I want to go see the fjords in Norway. I would like to take a week and hike from hut to hut. I also want to ride my bike cross country or some sort of painting/wandering road trip. I also want to hike all the high peaks in the US.
Words of Inspiration?
“If you really, really want something, you’ll find a way… otherwise you’ll make every excuse.”
– Lisa Goldfarb
“Be persistent and don’t forget to ask, ask, ask. It’s a numbers game, someone will say yes eventually!”
– Lisa Goldfarb