She Can’t Forget the Brazilian Sea

     She Can't Forget the Brazilian 

    No matter
    what, the sea always comes through in nearly all
    of Brazilian painter Denise Lion’s work, not only in the image

    but also with the material she uses. She’s easy to talk. When

    talking about her work, she says, "I’m obsessed with eyes.

    I guess it’s because eyes can tell you everything about a person."

    by: Shawn

    "I lived on the beach
    my whole life," says Denise Lion, the daughter of a naval commander who
    once lived in Brazil. "I had sailboats and instead of going everywhere
    in a car like people do here, I sailed."

    Now at a different stage
    in her life in which, instead of being out on the beach and the sea, she’s
    painting what she remembers about this former life.

    Out of Lion’s 70 oil paintings
    on exhibit through Feb. 3 at the Courtyard Theater, 1509 Avenue H in Plano,
    Texas, it’s plain to see that most have something from the sea.

    Sometimes it’s the flora
    and fauna found in the ocean depths that she chooses to incorporate in her
    work. Other times it can be swirls, reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the
    tide, or the deep blues, whites, and green swells found in each wave as it
    rises up and falls back where it belongs, slapping against the water.

    The only missing links
    are the sounds and the smells of the sea. And though it’s no secret that Lion
    misses the sea, she says living in landlocked Texas isn’t all that bad.

    "I am a happy person
    and when you’re happy you can be happy anywhere," she says.

    But it’s the sea she craves
    and even though she knows it better than most, she still doesn’t have all
    the answers.

    "I’ve always been
    intrigued by the sea," she says. "The sea is a mystery and I wonder
    what’s underneath it."

    Everyday, after Lion is
    finished with her work at her Skin Care International Spa on West Parker Road
    in Plano, she takes everything that’s happened during the day, heads for her
    home art studio, where she paints for two or three hours and rids herself
    of stress.

    "In my job,"
    says Lion, who is trilingual in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, "people
    come in and tell me their problems and sometimes I have turbulent days because
    of that. But I take it all and put it onto the canvas with bright, bright
    colors and then I am light again."

    Just as she’s content
    to live in Texas with husband Tim Lion, whom she met when she came to this
    country to attend Sacramento State in California, and their children, Bianca,
    16, and Erik, 21, she says having others heap their troubles on her isn’t
    a problem.

    If anything, she uses
    it to her advantage and says, "By listening you can sure learn a lot
    about the human spirit and the soul."

    Nowhere is the intensity
    more noticeable than in the powerful reds, golds, and silvers in "Fire
    and Ice." Done after a particular heavy day of hearing the woes of others,
    Lion says she can now look at the painting and feel a calmness come over her.

    Like most of her other
    work, it’s an abstract because as she says, "You can put your feelings
    and whatever colors you have or you like into the painting,"

    The pinkish "Come
    out and Party" image is a perfect example of everything Lion stands for
    in her artistry.

    "I have a client
    who says she’s too timid," says Lion. She then points to the shell in
    the middle of the painting saying, "She was my muse at the time and so
    I dedicated this one to her."

    Almost all of Lion’s paintings
    are of the mixed media variety, with citrines, amethysts and other gemstones
    mixed into some area of the painting, usually the eyes.

    "I’m obsessed with
    eyes," says Lion. "I don’t know why. I guess it’s because eyes can
    tell you everything about a person."

    One of these paintings,
    "Mardi Gras," says the eyes are copies of her daughter Bianca’s
    eyes. "Bianca’s eyes were voted prettiest last year at the school,"
    says the Shepton High sophomore’s mother.

    Also evident in all of
    Lion’s paintings are swirls.

    "I don’t do straight
    lines," she says.

    Sometimes the swirls have
    a calming effect such as in "Whispers." At other times they’re agitated,
    as in "Winter Storm."

    No matter what, the sea
    always comes through in nearly all of her work, not only in the image but
    also with the material she uses. Most noticeable are the ones, such as "Cat
    in Cave," where she’s chosen to mix sand in with the paints.

    She’s easy to talk to
    and when asked why she does this sort of thing, she says, "I can’t follow
    rules. A lot of people when they see my work say it’s different and sometimes
    they like it and sometimes they don’t, but I can’t help it, it’s my feelings
    on canvas."

    Nowhere is this more evident
    than in her red, white and blue rendition of "Melting Pot."

    "It’s America,"
    she says, pointing to the different figures on the canvas representing
    all the different race, creeds, and cultures within this country.

    "In other countries,"
    she says, "women have to do what they’re told, but here we’re the boss."

    Another piece, "Amazon
    Rainforest" is a kind of tribute to her native homeland’s fast diminishing
    natural resources.

    "You know,"
    she says, "Man is bigger than life and when we want to do something,
    we destroy what we need to get what we want."

    Interestingly enough,
    there was a time when she would’ve scoffed if anyone had told her she would
    someday be exhibiting her work.

    Now 43, she says, "I
    used to draw stick figures and people would laugh at my work. But I kept on."

    Her work at that time
    included that of the digital computer variety. But still she felt there had
    to be more. That didn’t come till after she divulged her concerns to an artist
    friend whom she says, "told me that anyone can paint."

    Then, the artist friend
    did what any friend would do in a case like this and showed Lion how it was

    "She kept pointing
    to some red and purple colors on the canvas, saying, `See those colors?’

    "But honestly,"
    says Lion, "I couldn’t see the colors at all."

    Gradually Lion got to
    where she could not only see the colors and the shapes, but paint them too.
    At first she says her work was flat and one-dimensional, but after taking
    lessons from her friend, the quality of her work improved to the point where
    now she paints whatever and whenever the urge strikes.


    This article was
    originally published by the newspaper Plano Star Courier –
    Shawn Floyd, the author welcomes comments at

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