Lisa Tornatore | Artist


If you find yourself drawn to art that you relate to or feel emotionally moved to think about, a little edgy, and definitely untraditional, than you are in the right place. My art touches on psychology, social issues, women's issues, and my own spiritual journey, as well as some fun and cheerful works in-between. I work in a variety of different media, but printmaking is my favorite. I work and show in the Chicagoland area and have been creating art since I was very young. My favorite story from when I was little, is when I carved into the woodwork of our home. Ha ha! My mother wasn't too happy about that one. Anyhow, I love art and creating. I welcome you to take a look around and to enjoy my work as much as I enjoy creating it! Visit my Blog or Facebook Page for info about my art and upcoming shows or events!

News & Pet Portrait of Your Furbaby


It's been a while, but as many of you know, I am working on ramping up my art business right now! I am working on some new art, adding a pet portrait by commission option, creating some new versions of my old art, looking into printing on fabric, and also doing some research on how I can make my artwork more sustainable and less of a load on the environment.

As part of this growth, I am excited to announce that I will now be offering monotypes of pets! This is due to the popularity of the monotype I did of Mowgli, my dog. I have gotten a lot of compliments on it and suggestions that I offer portraits in addition to all my other awesome work. ;)

The idea is to capture the feeling of your pet, not a realistic representation, that is why I will be spending time listening to your stories and getting to know your pet. It is a very special opportunity to not only capture your pets personality and feelings, but also to have a colorful piece of art in your home that not only memorializes the feelings you have about your pet, but really means something to you. 

I recently had a friend ask me to do a portrait of her cat. I was honored, but then I found out that her cat had passed away about a month ago. I was saddened by her loss. It is important that we take the time to remember our pets in a special way and to really enjoy and capture those special moments of our pet while they are still alive. 

To help save all those great memories, I am offering to do a pet portrait photo book in addition to the portrait. Many of us are so busy with our lives and all those photos just end up filling memory on our computers, but this is a great way to create a keepsake of your special family member. The memory book will include photos of your pet that I took, as well as some of your favorites and a short synopsis of your pets life based on our conversations! Plus, it will have the certificate of authenticity and a blurb about my creative process while making your pet's portrait at the end of the book! 

More information on pricing etc is in the Services section of my website. Please email, Facebook Messenger me or text me if you or anyone you know are interested! 

Have a great rest of the summer and I look forward to interacting with all of you much more on my Blog, Facebook, & Instagram in the coming months!

Art & Food Thank You!

Thank You For Your Support

Contents apart, but always in my heart

Thank you to those who shared in the Art & Food night I had. It was nice to see everyone and share my art. This was a significant showing for me, as this is the first time my color version of Continents Apart, But Always In My Heart print is on displayIf you were unable to visit, please drop by the cafe to enjoy some delicious organic food and my artwork. It will continue to be on display for a while longer. 

Purple Sprout Cafe
341 E Dundee Rd, Wheeling, IL 60090
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Tuesday - Friday
10 AM - 9PM Saturday
10am - 6pm Sunday

Art & Food

Art On Display At Purple Sprout Cafe

Come on out and enjoy some delicious, organic food and my art on display. I have 3 prints on display at Purple Sprout Cafe, including a color version of Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Raining Fish and a color version of LOVE. Also, on display finally for the first time in color Continents Apart, But Always In My Heart.

Purple Sprout Cafe
341 E Dundee Rd, Wheeling, IL 60090
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Tuesday - Friday
10 AM - 9PM Saturday
10am - 6pm Sunday

Printmaking Processes Series 3


THE TRANSFER - image to plate

In order to transfer my images to my plate, I use a red carbon paper. I place the carbon paper between my plate and my drawing and traced the lines on my drawing to transfer my lines to my zinc plate. I then carved up the plate. The thing to remember is that the images get reversed onto the paper when printing the plate. If there are countries, letters, or something that will be noticeably incorrect if flipped, then the image needs to be reversed before coping onto the plate. Most of the time I don't really worry about the image being flipped. I didn't have any text in the image, so I dismissed that issue and made a HUGE mistake!

Rolling plate, paper, and blankets through the press

I carved up the whole plate. I etched the plate by dropping it into a bath of copper sulphate. After waiting a short time, (times varies on each plate based on the amount of detail and how deep the lines are wanted) I removed the plate from the bath. The plate is now etched, which means that it has grooves eaten away by the copper sulphate, where I planned to put the ink to print it.  I then inked up the plate. I used a small piece of cardboard and scooped out a small amount of thick black etching ink and ran the ink along the entire plate covering the plate in ink. I then wiped away the excess ink, leaving ink in only the grooved areas. I was then ready to print, so I wet my paper. Wetting the paper losses the fibers so they can sink deep into the grooves of the plate to catch the ink. I put my plate on the press bed and layered my paper on top of it and the press blanket on top of that for cushion. I rolled the bed through the press and it came out on the other side. I raised the blankets and my image was printed onto the paper. I removed the paper only to realize that the US and India printed backwards. Unfortunately, I had to scrape the entire plate to remove the countries from the plate. I had to make a photo copy of the drawing, flipping the image and then re-transfering the countries to the plate. The way it turned out, India is first on the left and US is on the right, which is reversed when looking at a real map. Also,because of my limited space from having to switch the location of the two countries, I ended up having to omit some states that are on the northeast side of India, but I figured, it is there for symbolic purposes not for geographic reasons, so it would be understood.

After scrapping out the countries, I had to burnish the plate, which is a sort of like polishing the plate to rid it of any extraneous rough marks that could catch ink when printing. To burnish, I use a very smooth metal tool called a burnisher. I put a few drops of 3-in-1 oil on the plate and rub the plate with the burnisher until all the marks are gone. It took me a very, very, very long time to burnish out all the marks, and the thing about this method is that I had removed some of the zinc in scrapping, so the areas where I scraped and burnished are slightly lower than the rest of the plate. This can make it tricky to ink the plate evenly, especially for a beginner. Thank goodness I had some experience under my belt! 

Registering the paper

I then repeated the printing process to check my image. Yay! My countries were now facing the correct direction. So now, I needed to transfer this image to my 4 wooden plates. First, I use a shellac to seal the wood. Then  I printed the image onto the paper and made sure I put the wood plate in exactly the same place where I had the zinc plate and laid the freshly printed paper onto the wood plate in exactly the same place as it was when I printed the zinc plate. We call this registering the plate and paper. Then I rolled it through the press. The fresh wet black ink on the paper transferred to the wood plate when I rolled it through the press, so when I removed the paper my image was on the wood plate. This gave me a guide to where I need to cut the wooden plate. I did that for all 4 wooden plates being careful to register them as best I could.

Next Up...

THE EXECUTION...Read about the final processes to carve, ink, and print leading to the final art. 

“ART FOR A CAUSE” Exhibition 10/2-10/4

October 2 & 3, 2015, 6:30pm to 10pm
October 4, 2-6pm.

Indoors at the Buffalo Grove Community Arts Center, 225 McHenry Road, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

Please join me and other artists at “Art For A Cause!” This show features me and 20 artists who have donated our entry fees to the American Cancer Society for Pediatric Cancer Research. Come out and support the cause!

Also featured are the Buffalo Grove Singers for their 23rd Annual Choral Concert as they premiere their commissioned song that was featured on the Today Show, "Truly Brave" that served as an impetus for them to raise over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society and Pediatric Cancer Research.

Please note you do not have to buy a ticket to the show to attend the art event, but if you'd like to hear some great singers, you can get tickets from

Printmaking Process Series 2


First off, I'd like to explain a bit about what an edition is and why I felt that this sketch would make a great print edition.

An edition is a group of identical impressions or prints. In some cases there may be more than one edition.  A trial edition or proof is one in which the artist may print a group of images for himself to see how things are looking during the process.  An edition is usually labeled in the bottom left hand corner below the image. The format is to write the number or sequence of the impression as printed over the total number of prints in the edition. i.e. 1/23. So that would be the first impression printed of 23 printed total at the that time. Most hand printed editions are limited due to the amount of images that can be run from a plate before the plate will begin to warp or wear away. Another reason they are limited is to add value. The more editions made the less value the prints will have. Many times artists may choose the change the state of the print before making another edition. This means the artist has changed something on the plate or matrix causing a change in the printed impression. This creates a new edition and does not devalue a print bought from a previous edition.

Another area of confusion is when people hear the word print, they may assume that it is the same as a giclee prints. Giclee a french word meaning to spray or spurt liquid, in this case ink, is a commercially or digitally printed image of an artwork. These are NOT hand printed or hand plated. These are the ones you may see labeled A.P., B.A.T. etc. These are images of the real artwork, sometimes touched up by the artist or painted on top of to add value.

So the beauty of a hand printed and hand plated artwork is that all of the work is done by the artist, therefore in an edition of say 30;  there will be slight variations between images making each one almost like an original artwork. This is what makes each piece or print so special and beautiful! Some printmakers will even skip the whole idea of an edition and just keep changing the state of the plate or print it in different colors, so each print from that plate is different and a unique print.

Back to why I chose this piece for a printing edition verses say a painting or other media...

When I finished my drawing, I thought that many people might be able to empathize with my feelings, so an edition of many to go to those who felt and understood the idea would be perfect. Being able to create more than one of an image is a benefit of printmaking verses any other fine art media.

 A variety of different  plates all carved up and ready to be inked and printed. Photo by Nancy Strahinic.

A variety of different  plates all carved up and ready to be inked and printed.
Photo by Nancy Strahinic.

After my drawing, the next step for a print would be to create a master plate, a plate that I will use to tranfer the image to multiple plates. It is usually the last plate printed in a multi-plate process. I knew I wanted this project to be very colorful, but also have some delicate details as well. From experience I knew that wood relief prints worked really well for multi-color projects, so I chose to use 4 woodblock plates one for each color: Blue, Green, Orange, Red. Then, against the odds, I chose a zinc plate for my master plate, because my drawing had a lot of delicate areas that might not show up as well on a wood plate.

I say against the odds, because there is some risk of the images not matching up properly, due to the fact that the paper must be wet to print a metal plate. When paper is wet, the fibers stretch and contract, causing the paper to get larger or smaller, so it may be a challenging process to make sure all the printed images from all the plates are printed on top of each other in the right place. 

Next Up...

THE EXECUTION...Read about I carved up all my plates and some the bumps and I ran across and how I solved those issues. 

Printmaking Processes Series 1


After my first trip to India and meeting my family for the first time, well let's just say a lot of firsts happened on that trip to India, I felt a great love for my family and discovered a new love for the Indian culture...almost like a hug. Yes, that was it! I wanted to hug the country! How do I portray a hug? Lately, I had been doing a lot of work on the heart, and I knew that feelings such as love are felt strongest from the heart. I wanted to incorporate that into my work, so I came up with the idea of the heart with the veins reaching out with love and hugging my family in both countries. 

When I was in India, I discovered that the marigold flower is everywhere, which was surprising to me, since the only place I had seen so many was in my home town the Marigold capital of Illinois, Pekin. I knew right away that was not just a coincidence. I wanted to include that in my work as well, so I nestled my heart in the marigold flower. 

I learned about Ganesha while I was there and his story. There was something very welcoming, kind, fun, and whimsical about him that I loved. I felt I could identify with him very easily, and it wasn't hard to feel his presence, since he is everywhere in India. He also found his way into my artwork as well. More about Ganesha

The butterfly from my childhood also found it's way into my work. The story about how it met me while I waited for the bus on the first days of school and how my mother swore it looked like we were dancing together. More about my butterfly story...

So in a way it turned out to be a sort of portrait of my life up to that point. I had all these things in my head and one day I sat down and did a drawing of it. The minute I finished the drawing, I knew it needed to become a print edition.

Below is the sketch. As you will notice if you look closely, it is color coded, so that when I began my plates, I would be able to know what to carve out.

Next up...

THE PLAN - Find out how I planned out my plates to get the style of image I wanted. In addtion, learn what an edition is and it's role in art collecting.


I donated a Monoprint of Mowgli, my rescue pup, to the  Art Unleashed Auction and it SOLD! That money was donated to the Chicago Canine Rescue!
Mowgli is very close to my heart. Below is the print of him and his story! 

 TITLE: Mowgli MEDIA: Monoprint SIZE: 11X14

TITLE: Mowgli MEDIA: Monoprint SIZE: 11X14

Mowgli’s Story

We adopted Mowgli in March 2014. He was one of two in his litter with the blue merle coloring and a tail. All the rest were black and white border collie looking pups with bobbed tails like the Australian Shepherd they were mixed with. I wanted to get Anna, a fuzzy black sister to Mowgli, but she didn’t have a full tail, so I wasn’t sure. I have always loved to see a happy tail wagging. My husband was sure that Adam(Mowgli) was the right one for us. The minute they put him in my arms at 10 weeks old, I fell in love with him. We adopted him right away from the Midwest Animal Rescue.

One week later he caught parvo, a virus that can sometimes kill young pups, and we were faced with a tough decision, but we loved him so much, and it was just the start of his life, we had to try to save him. We caught it early. Thousands of dollars and weeks later Mowgli was declared healthy and able to come home to his family. I did this monoprint of him off of one of the few pictures I had of him before he went into the hospital. I missed him so much while he was sick. I worried about him and even went to visit him in seclusion, just to see him through the glass. He was and is the light of our lives!

Now we go everywhere with him. We teach him new tricks all the time! He learns so fast. Only yesterday he learned to bring us the newspaper from outside. He also helps out in the kitchen by closing cabinet doors and drawers. We are teaching him to dance and he can even count to 4!


May 2 Artists’ League Pop-Up Show and Sale

Saturday is The Buffalo Grove Artists’ League Pop-Up Show and Sale, from 6:00 to 8:30 pm in the theater lobby of Stevenson High School. Artwork available will include paintings, prints, photography, jewelry, wooden items, and hand-lettered items. I hope to see you all there supporting us local artists!

1 Stevenson Dr, Lincolnshire, IL 60069

After the Exhibit THANKS!

The Polish Arts Club show included lots of good artwork! They had a really nice ceremony and gave roses to all the participants! Also at the museum they had on display lots of Polish Historical art and memorabilia. It was really interesting to see since I am half Polish and there is so much about my Polish heritage that I do not know.  In fact, just yesterday my Aunt told me they have photos of my great grandfather at that very Polish Museum!

On display at the museum is both versions of Listen to My Heart and Continents Apart, but Always in My Heart. The later is the first time it has been on display. That picture has been like my baby for the last few years since the start of my master plate, which is what is on display. The reason for it taking so long is because I am working on a color version of it with 6 wooden plates and one zinc plate. It was very slow at first, but I am on my second to last plate. So I only need to do one more run on the press with my zinc plate to finish my edition of 30. Which is by the way one of the largest editions I have done! 

If you are in the area, check out the show! It is open until May 5! 
Polish Museum of America
984 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL

Polish Arts Club of Chicago 79th Annual Exhibition

Join me for the Polish Arts Club of Chicago’s 79th Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture on April 26 – May 9, 2015!

I am showing my heart series of images. I will be showing both versions of my Listen to your Heart prints as well as unveiling some new heart prints I have been working on. Some of you may already know, but my heart series of images, is an ongoing journey of learning for me. I hope you can come and participate my journey!

The exhibit will include a variety of artists from all over the world that work primarily in painting and sculpture, and of course printmaking!

The Opening Reception is on April 26, 2015, 1-4 pm
Awards Ceremony 2 pm
Admission $5.00

Polish Museum of America
984 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Something About The Color Red Exhibition

Just a Thank You to all those who came out for the exhibition. I exhibited my Listen to your Heart print. Below is a bit about what inspired this print. 

This print was inspired by own spiritual journey. As many of you know, I am very interested in the heart and how emotions are always felt strongest as if coming from the heart. During my journey, I have done some extensive research on the heart and found that the heart has the largest magnetic field than any other part of the body including the brain. I learned that feelings we feel in our heart can actually effect the this large energy field around us resulting in external energy changes as well. It makes sense, in the case of coming into contact with another person and being able to feel or sense how that person is feeling, happy, sad, etc. This picture represents the communication between our brain and our heart, and my own journey to learn to listen to that communication and be conscience of it. Remembering that I choose what I feel and therefore can change how I feel, resulting in changes around me as well. 

2/6/2015 Art Show

I will be exhibiting 2 prints. The gold version of Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Raining Fish and my Self Portrait.Join me & the Buffalo Grove Artists’ League at:
Indian Trails Public Library, 355 Schoenbeck Road, Wheeling, IL.
Reception: Friday, February 6, 7-8:30 pm
If want to see the show, but missed the reception, it will be on display until February 26.

There are many artists exhibiting a wide array of art, jewelry, and other media. Drop by and enjoy the show!

01/14 Exhibitions

I just wanted to thank everyone who came out for my shows! I really appreciate your support! The shows included many talented artists! If you are in the area, stop by and see them.

Proof for Purchase
Show runs through February 26, 2014.
Noyes Cultural Arts Center, second floor gallery hallway, 927 Noyes Street Evanston IL.

Listen to Your Heart

EAC Biennial Student Exhibition
Show runs through February 16, 2014.
Evanston Art Center-2603 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL

 My Husband & I with a chine-colé version of Listen to Your Heart

My Husband & I with a chine-colé version of Listen to Your Heart

Old Plate Gets New Colors

I did this plate way back when I was in college, but only printed it in black. It was created as an abstract after working on a project about ostriches, hence the long bird and neck-like portions of the picture and then the legs turned in reflections of music in the water. I felt like it was such a great image, that I wanted to try experimenting with color on it and create a new edition of it. Here it is with a sunset of colors! Enjoy!


Exhibition October 2012

People, Places, Things – Art Exhibit

Hi! Check out one of my latest art works. It is called Companionship. Actually, it is of my parents sitting at the bar, but when I look at it, it reminds me of those really old couples who have been married for like 50 years and they know each other so well, that they just enjoy each others company and don’t need to talk.

The picture is a collagraph, which means it is both a layered on to the plate and dug into the plate technique. I did this one on just a piece of solid cardboard and printed it on the press.

If you didn’t get to stop by for the opening, you can still see all the great work by visiting the space during the month of October on Fridays from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm and on Saturdays from noon to 6 pm.

Petroff Photography Studio
17 N. Elizabeth St.
Chicago, IL 60645


If you are interested in buying a Lisa original not on my website yet or in the Shop, or have any inquiries , Please Contact me at

I ship to continental U.S. addresses mostly by USPS within 2 weeks of receipt of payment. Costs are dependant upon size, weight, shipping materials, and method.

Personal checks must clear before purchased item will be shipped.

All sales are final if the art work is not returned within 15 calendar days of receipt. Buyer must pay return shipping costs that include a receipt of confirmation with tracking number. Item must be received in the condition in which it was received by the buyer.

All artwork is signed. Please note that colors in some of the digital images may not match the colors of the original artwork.  All prints are made from plates made and are printed by hand, resulting in slight differences in each print within editions. Most measurements are given to the nearest inch.

Photography by Nancy Strahinic.

All reproduction and licensing rights to the artwork and images of artwork are reserved by Lisa Tornatore.