Having a successful career, what we might refer to as a “day job,” and also being a successful artist on the side is a special kind of blessing for those who are so fortunate. The time and talent required to excel in art seems as though it would be a full-time job all by itself; however, at least three artists with ties to the Midlands have achieved the happy balance of pursuing other careers while maintaining their artistic flair.
Artist and Entrepreneur
As a child, Lisa Rice rode her bike across town in Newberry to take art lessons from Mrs. Scurry in a back room that had no heat. “I must have really wanted to take lessons,” Lisa says with a laugh. Her first lessons focused on the use of pastels, which she has enjoyed most of her life. She was also influenced by her father, Ferdinand “Ferd” Summers, an architect. “He could draw very precisely,” she says. “I felt like he probably didn’t let that artistic side of himself come out, but it was something we talked about, and I always admired his architectural handwriting.”
Lisa paints landscapes using oils. “My art is very realistic,” she says. “If I take a photo of a scene, that’s what the painting will look like.” When she decided to take lessons, she called Elizabeth “Emmy” Bronson in McClellanville. Elizabeth is a master oil painter and instructor who focuses on commissioned portraits, still life, maritime, landscapes, and figures. Lisa says, “I called Elizabeth and said, ‘Look, I am too old for group classes. Would you take me on as a personal client?’” The two have been working together every week for years, even during COVID-19, when they met via FaceTime. “She’s a wonderful instructor. I’ve learned so much.”
Several years ago, Emmy talked Lisa into doing an art show together. The show had an unexpected consequence for Lisa. “I got home to my studio and didn’t have any paintings. All my babies were gone! I have to admit, I was very sad. I haven’t had another show since,” she says with a laugh. “I’m not your typical artist. I don’t want to give them up.” Meanwhile, Lisa continues to expand her style, playing around with new colors and also still works with Emmy. The two are revamping for the new year and figuring out where Lisa should take her work next.
Lisa balances her love of art with her passion as a business owner and entrepreneur. Lisa’s daughter, Ann E. Rice Ervin, is an attorney at Motley Rice law firm in Mt. Pleasant, following in the footsteps of her father, Joe. After Ann E.’s 2009 wedding, all the planning fun formed lasting memories and provided a source of pleasurable reminiscence for mother and daughter alike. Their shared interest in wedding planning coupled with Lisa’s belief that Ann E. needed a creative outlet led Lisa to purchase Southern Protocol Bridal when it became available in 2016. They enjoyed helping brides and debutantes find the dress of their dreams so much that they bought Maddison Row two years later and merged the two into what is known today as Maddison Row South, located in downtown Charleston.
“We’ve been great as a mother-daughter team,” says Lisa. “We see eye to eye on a lot of things. We like to say we are in the business of love, and that’s a happy thing. It provides Ann E. a creative and joyful outlet outside of her plaintiffs’ injury law practice, and it keeps me young at heart.”
The duo enjoyed being a part of the wedding industry so much that they expanded their enterprise to bridesmaids and mother of the occasion by purchasing Bella Bridesmaids in Columbia and Charleston. “Bella Bridesmaids in a woman-owned franchise out of Chicago,” says Lisa. “It is truly amazing to be part of such a wonderful group of women entrepreneurs. We have learned so much and met so many great folks in the wedding world.”
Mark Nussbaum works full time for Hoffman Mechanical Solutions, where he sells commercial heating and cooling equipment to schools, hospitals, and businesses. He and his wife, Andrea, have three daughters — Fiona, 4; Sable, 2; and Sienna, 7 months. To say the least, he has a very busy life. Still, he finds time for art. “It’s a challenge but definitely something that’s a priority,” Mark says of his talent. “It’s something I’m trying to steward and grow.”
Mark was drawing images before he could write. “My maternal grandmother, Elaine Wieneke, was an artist,” he says. “I was exposed to painting and drawing from my elementary years as she taught me the fundamentals and provided space to explore them.” He did not begin to paint seriously until he was in high school.
At Collin College in McKinney, Texas, near Dallas, Mark met the person who would most influence his art path and launch the honing of his artistic skills, Marilyn Todd-Daniels. “Dr. Daniels was in her 80s, retired from decades of making her living as an oil painter. She was a hoot and had such a love for the medium. Her commitment to teaching her students made a real impact on me. I was in — hook, line, and sinker.”
While living in Dallas, he was exposed to many art exhibits. He was motivated by 19th century landscape artists and figurative artists, such as the Hudson River School painters, JMW Turner of Great Britain and French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, among others.
Nevertheless, for a short period in his 20s, Mark put his paints aside for a while. “I was disillusioned with art and didn’t think it was worth investing my time in,” he says. Then, he went to Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, where he changed in many ways. “I grew in a fuller understanding of what it meant to honor God, and I needed to be a good steward of the skills He’d given me as a painter — not just seek to honor Him spiritually, but physically by exercising the gifts I’d received, which are meant to be used in the here and now,” says Mark. “I graduated wanting to embrace painting as a worthwhile endeavor, creating beauty and trying to stir in others the appreciation of beauty.”
That was 2013. For the past 10 years, Mark has taken painting seriously, working on landscapes and reproductions. While he has never been to painting school, he learns through videos and studying the art of others. He counts himself blessed by the support of the people closest to him.
“Between having three little kids and needing solitude to paint, Andrea and I make sacrifices,” says Mark. He gives much credit to Andrea. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her support.”
In addition to his family, Mark also enjoys the support of his employer. “Hoffman Mechanical Solutions offers me lots of flexibility and an ideal schedule for such a life, which is a blessing,” he says. In an interesting twist, his job teaches him skills that transfer to his career as an artist, helping him better understand how business works. “Artists struggle with understanding how the financial stuff comes into play,” Mark says. “Structuring a budget, project deadlines, figuring out prices, getting a frame made, coordinating delivery, how to anticipate costs — all of these are related to skills I learn weekly at my job.”
The lessons Mark has learned through his life experiences and all the support he receives help him use and share his gifts as an artist. He recently finished a Ligonier Ministries-commissioned reproduction of The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by Scottish painter David Roberts, that took him an entire year to complete. This year, Mark plans to develop figure and portrait paintings within the landscape of the Carolinas. He will also do research in Arizona on desert landscapes.
“Though it can be a tremendous challenge at times, embracing my gifts is a liberty and a joy,” says Mark. “I actually can pursue these things I love doing and not feel guilty, knowing it is time well spent.”
Art + Therapy
Lyssa Harvey closely combines her talents as an artist with her main career. As a licensed professional counselor and credentialed art and play therapist, she has spent more than 30 years helping children and families through counseling, art, and play. “I have the best of both worlds,” Lyssa says. Lyssa’s love for art began well before her career as a therapist. When she was in her tweens, she partnered with her friend, Cathy Meyerson Kleinman, and offered an art camp for kids. “We started a little art camp at the beach,” says Lyssa. “It was my first awareness that art is fun, popular, and people like it. We were young little entrepreneurs.”
Later, as a freshman at the University of Georgia, the oldest child of five was very homesick. She went to see a school counselor who told her that her parents and siblings would be fine and that she now had only to take care of herself. “That was so freeing for me. It gave me permission to be my own person,” Lyssa says. “That’s what made me want to be a counselor and to help others.” Not long afterward, she found out about art therapy. “You have to be an artist first to be a successful art therapist,” she says. “Not everyone is cut out for it. You have to have an artist’s soul.”
Upon completing her schooling, which required two master’s degrees, one in art therapy and one in counseling, Lyssa dove headlong into her career. She began in Richland School District 1, working with special needs children. From there, she added many facets to her therapist life. She serves as a licensed supervisor to aspiring therapists through the state of South Carolina. After completing their degrees, these therapists must complete 120 hours supervised by a therapist like Lyssa. She also used art therapy in hospitals through Children’s Chance, helping children with cancer and individuals suffering from trauma, depression, and addiction. “Counseling is very creative,” says Lyssa. “You’re always creating solutions to different needs.” In 1995, Lyssa opened The Art & Play Therapy Center of South Carolina on Forest Drive, where she offers traditional counseling, art and play therapy for all ages, working with children, adolescents, and families.
Lyssa’s work as a teacher and therapist is a natural partner to her love for art, specifically abstract art. “Abstract impressionism was big at the University of Georgia School of Art,” she says. Her work in Judaica Art differs from her South Carolina waterscapes, but in both, she uses bold primary colors, a choice typical in Hebrew spiritual art. Lyssa does not have the luxury of a studio, so her therapy center becomes her studio on weekends. About twice a year, she goes on week-long art retreats. “I’m a little manic during those weeks because my time is so limited,” she says.
Lyssa’s time has been well spent; her work is award winning and is represented by The Low Country Artist’s Gallery on East Bay Street in Charleston. Her latest series on canvas and paper is “Wisdom of the Wetlands,” connecting the importance of the coastal wetlands to the environment.
Lyssa loves both her worlds equally. “I couldn’t live without making art,” she says. “I feel my purpose is to help others, but art is my gift from God. My art nourishes me so I can help others.”
Lyssa, Mark, and Lisa’s work is as individual as they are. Still, the trio shares many aspects. All found their love of art at a young age. All are successful, both as artists and in other careers. All of them seek to give back using the artistic gifts they have, and, finally, all of them agree that they are truly blessed to enjoy being part of both worlds.