Author Archives: Isabel

The Shape of Things

The crazy thing about being a somewhat realist painter is I am not painting things (people, birds, dogs, marsh grass, buildings) I am painting shapes. We are not a camera and the process of painting is kind of like magic. An painter looks at their subject and interprets what they see in to shapes. The size, color, shape & value of the shapes magically creates something we recognize. It always amazes when it turns out. Happy painting, happy seeing! Isabel

You can find this oil painting, Kite Flyer II 30″h x 15″w, at Sandpiper Gallery at Sullivan’s Island, SC

Creating Relationships

Can You Hear Me Now?, 8"x10", oil on canvas, $575 © Isabel Forbes 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?, 8″x10″, oil on canvas, $575 © Isabel Forbes 2015

You will hear me say again and again, “make your life a work of art”. That’s my mantra, my mission, my guidepost, my dream. The edges between life and art are becoming more and more blurry.

In painting, the relationships begin between the four edges of my canvas. Creating relationships between shapes, colors, texture, values and edges makes a painting strong.

These are the relationships I thought I was creating with my paintings.

Today I see there are also other important and powerful relationships in my paintings and have come to find out this is why I really paint. Creating relationships with people.

Here are a few of the stories.


Beach Colors, 15″x30″, oil on canvas, © Isabel Forbes 2015

A man visiting Spartanburg bought a beach scene painting. The painting was a colorful collection of shapes describing a day at the beach (N Litchfield Beach). The focal point was a woman with a red hat sitting in a lounge chair. The man bought the painting because it reminded him of his wife who passed away from cancer. She used to wear a red hat while lounging by Lake Tahoe.


Heintish Walker, 20″x16″, oil on canvas © Isabel Forbes 2015

An older gentleman bought a painting of Heinitsh Walker Drug Store. His Maternal Grandmother used to take him there for an ice cream. Unknown to him at the time, his birthmother, who was an unwed mother and had to give him up for adoption, sat anonymously at a nearby table watching him.


Station 22, 12″x24″, oil on canvas, © Isabel Forbes 2015

There was a painting I made of Station 22 on Sullivan’s Island. A young man bought it for his wife as a Christmas gift because that was where they visited the beach for the first time and where he proposed to her. He emailed me a photo of her opening her gift. Her eyes were watering over, so touched by the thought of her husband giving her this painting.


Penny Lane the Crab Hunter, 11″x14″, oil on linen, © Isabel Forbes 2015

The commissions I have painted of places or of family members, furry four legged and other, have introduced me to some people I now consider dear friends. Just recently a friend who had commissioned me years ago to paint her dog wrote to tell me how grateful she was to have that painting because her sweet dog had passed.

I’m sure every painting has a story for each person. Many stories I’ll never know.

These are the relationships that really make a good painting. My heart now knows this is why I paint.

Self Portrait

urban landscape, window scene, spartanburg sc, venus pizza

Waiting, Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 30″copyright 2014 Isabel Forbes

Recently I was part of an art exhibit where artists were invited to paint a portrait of themselves on a 30″x30″ canvas.

I really found this idea a fun challenge. After many thoughts came and went I landed on the idea of painting myself in one of my own paintings.

The window scene is from a local Spartanburg, SC USA restaurant/landmark named Venus Pizza. Several years ago this was the subject of one of my paintings and I loved how the window divided up the space.

Gallery East Self Portrait art reception

Gallery East Self Portrait art reception