Contemporary portrait painters, Sonny and Lisa Moeckel, excel in the use of minimal color configurations and the art of transforming portraits into abstract realism paintings. Their unique collaborations evoke the mysterious and expressive nature of the human figure.
Lisa has focused mainly on realistic portraiture, while Sonny’s artistic style is more abstract. She has expanded into oil painting in collaborations with Sonny.
Born and raised on the reservation, Sonny (Jicarilla Apache and Navajo), had his first painting featured in The Heard Art Museum at age 13. Sonny has excelled in many different forms of art. They both attended Whitworth University. Since meeting his wife, Lisa, eight years ago, they have been collaborating on oil paintings, combining their realistic and abstract styles. They have been featured in many art shows, publications, and received awards together.
Working mainly with oil paints, their two different styles combine to create expressionist portrait paintings. They allow the painterly lines to show through in their work to display their process and each individual stroke of paint. Their paintings consist of many layers. Each layer takes weeks, and often months to dry. It can take years for one painting to reach completion. Their works express the balance between reality and distortion to display human emotion and vulnerability. Sonny and Lisa are married artists and spend most of their free time creating art together promoting collaboration in their relationship. They paint simultaneously, on the same canvas.
Chief Velarde was their first collaboration inspired by Sonny's Great Grandfather. This work was one of the paintings on display at their solo exhibition at the Lied Center for the Visual Arts at Whitworth University, their first art show together as an artistic duo. Sonny’s culture has inspired many of their works and hope to remind people of the importance of indigenous people, and the struggles they have had to overcome, both in the past and present.