Lydia Zoells (she/her) is a figurative oil painter based in the New York City area. Born in Geneva, Switzerland and raised in Chicago, she received her B.A. in English literature at Washington University in St. Louis and pursued a career in book publishing for five years, working at The Wylie Agency and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A passionate artist from an early age, she mainly worked in drawing media and watercolor until April 2020, when, during lockdown, she bought her first set of oil paints and fell in love with the medium. She left the publishing industry in 2022 to pursue an M.F.A. in painting at the New York Academy of Art, where she is building her portfolio.
Her current body of work consists of intimate paintings, drawings, and prints depicting people in their own living spaces. Inspired by Cassatt, Hopper, and Vuillard, Zoells turns an anthropological eye on the people of her own social world, entering the homes of friends, family and acquaintances and observing them closely. Her goal is to investigate the ambivalence of the domestic space at the intersection of feminism and labor politics. Is the home a haven or a trap? Is a couch a place for rest or for work? How are these boundaries shifting and collapsing in modern living rooms?
My eternal gratitude to Carolyn Lyford Catalano, who taught me art from ages 10 to 18 and gave me the foundation in drawing fundamentals, materials, color theory, and basic anatomy that made it possible for me to grow on my own for so many years. Most importantly, she instilled a love of the process of art-making and a confidence in my own abilities that has carried me through.
Prior to beginning my education at the New York Academy of Art, I benefited greatly from the free educational resources that other artists have shared online, as well as the book Oil Painting: The Essential Guide by Kimberly Brooks, which helped me to set up a minimally toxic home studio in a corner of my living room. Below are some of the resources that have helped me the most when I was teaching myself to paint.