Lersch was raised in a small town 40 miles north of New York City,
before heading for college in Boulder, Colo. She moved to Worcester,
Mass., while her husband went to grad school, then on to Seattle
for a stretch before landing in Portland. Along the way, she worked
as a biological photographer, a freelance biological illustrator,
a graphic artist and a painter. Scrantz and her husband have been
in town just shy of two years.
Now and Zen
Not just interested in the finished product, Scrantz Lersch is also
fascinated with the actual brushstrokes on the surface to
see or feel the speed of the hand and arm that made them.
from Generalife," watercolor
"I like to think of the 'Zen moment' of painting," she
"It takes clarity and concentration to be fully present when
painting; to be able to enjoy the moment of putting paint on palette,
brush to paint and paint to paper.
"The act of putting paint to paper or canvas is as enjoyable
as creating an image that eyes will enjoy when finished."
Because Scrantz has been painting for 32 years, her work includes
a variety of different styles and media.
"A person changes and grows and has different interests over
time," she said. "But I am not only a painter, I also
draw, make monoprints, linoprints and take photographs."
However, painting offers Scrantz the chance to play with colors
ink on paper
"When layering colors, heavily or in washes, you never know
exactly what you'll get," she said, "so it's exciting
every time. I love colors and their interplay and vibrancy. But
then I also make prints and drawings that are only black and white."
Most of Scrantz's work is representational, not abstract. She paints
the world and people around her, as well as the places she visits.
"Although I appreciate biological illustrations," she
said, "I do not paint or draw in that detailed way anymore.
I have found that a looser, more impressionistic line is more interesting
Scrantz does not always mix media, nor does she prefer one to another.
Most of the time, her choice is based on what is available at the
Eden Australia," watercolor
"If I'm traveling, I may do an ink drawing or a small watercolor
sketch. If I'm really pressed for time, I'll take photos for reference.
Then, when I'm back at the studio, I expand the idea into larger
acrylic paintings," she said.
"At home, painting still-lifes, I choose a medium that seems
comfortable that day," she said.
"Every piece is an experiment that teaches you something."
Scrantz has several ongoing projects: a petroglyph series, a still-life
series, a landscape series and a portrait series.
"The petroglyph paintings are inspired by images from the
distant past, cave paintings, ancient artifacts, petroglyphs and
pictographs," she said. "And by an idea that bringing
the ancient pictures to contemporary attention is worthwhile."
With watercolor, acrylic and oil crayon on canvas, paper or matte
board, Scrantz uses a technique that suggests the passage of time.
Dancers," oil crayon and acrylic on paper
"An image or artifact is created, and over the centuries wind,
water and human contact affect the surface. Layers accumulate and
disappear, thereby changing the original," she said.
On canvas, the layering of colors is achieved by painting with
opaque color, using washes of paint, and sometimes blotting paint
off the surface. With oil crayons, the image is set down and then
scraped, blended and added to until the surface is richly covered
with layers of color.
"The still-life paintings reflect my everyday life and my
focus on the vibrant colors and shapes of commonplace things,"
Her latest landscapes are inspired by recent travels to Spain and
Scrantz has many favorite artists and is always attracted to those
who work in more than one medium.
"Ben Shawn was an illustrator, painter, printmaker and photographer,"
she said. "Both Miro and Picasso painted, sculpted, painted
ceramics and were printmakers."
Day River," acrylic on canvas
"I also love the impressionists, who were the first plein-air
painters, and Saul Steinberg's work is always fun to look at."
Last month Scrantz took part in the Portland Open Studios weekend.
This month and next, her paintings hang at DIG, a garden shop in
Portland's Pearl District, on Northwest 11th between Flanders and
Art was a big part of Scrantz's childhood. Her father was a commercial
artist and painter and her mother is a fiber artist and weaver.
"I spent hours drawing, painting, coloring, cutting and pasting.
My parents always had all kinds of materials for me to work with,"
"My father worked with printing companies and would bring
home paper-sample books for me to use for drawing or collage or
whatever. Every Christmas I'd get the deluxe, 96-color set of Crayola
crayons from one of his clients. He also owned an art-supply store
for a few years."
Scrantz was inspired to continue pursuing her interests when a
high school teacher read Ben Shawn's "The Education of an Artist"
to the class.
acrylic on canvas
College included watercolor, painting, drawing, print-making and
photography classes. Scrantz earned her B.A. in biological illustration
from the University of Colorado
Deeper than beauty
Scrantz's goal is a big one: To share her belief that in spite of
horror, injustice and inequity, the world is a beautiful place.
As she gets more connected in Portland, Scrantz hopes to find more
outlets for her art, and possibly an agent.
"I have to convince myself that love, truth and beauty will
survive and triumph," she said. "I hope to create paintings
that people love and can't live without."