Christina Lesperance is a master of all trades.
Ornate paintings of all breeds line the walls of her Westford Rd. home, as do stained glass masterpieces, treasured woodwork, self-made architecture and the sculpture of a human body.
“Once you get the bug, it’s hard to stop,” Lesperance said with a smile, laughing shyly.
The 62-year-old’s painting adventure began in 2012, when she picked up her late mother’s brushes. She’s self-taught, she noted, pointing to an award-winning watercolor painting of a man and draft horse hanging on her living room wall — her second-ever piece.
At first, it seemed hard to believe. But circling around the house’s various rooms, all adorned with similarly awe-inducing pieces — both long-finished and long-awaiting completion — it became clear Lesperance’s hands were meant for such work.
“I guess I’ve always been in trouble,” Lesperance joked of her habit to create.
The banister wrapping from floor-to-floor, the kitchen counter backdrop, the detailing on the entryway walls and the three-story miniature stone castle fountain in the front yard were just a few of the projects she lightheartedly claimed as her own.
Still, her hands aren’t the real miracle.
Lesperance was born with keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease that causes her cornea to bulge outward and creates visual impairments. She’s endured six cornea transplants — three in each eye — and at least 16 surgeries. Fans of her work, though, would never know.
Lesperance paints using a large, adjustable magnifying glass she inherited from her mother. As she pulls it down, closing in on a minuscule part of her canvas, she simultaneously reaches for a computer mouse to her right, zeroing in on the photo that serves as her painting’s reference.
Choosing which photos to paint is one of the most difficult steps. She has done portraits of humans and cats, Vermont landscapes, scenes from Mystic, Conn. and more.
Her husband, David, is a photographer. The couple goes on joy rides, often abruptly pulling over to snap pictures of Vermont barns. Lesperance takes the originals and mimics them.
Her disease scars the cornea and causes blurry patches in her vision. At two separate points in her life, Lesperance was considered legally blind, but as of last fall, her vision is better than it’s ever been.
Medical advancements gained Lesperance new custom contacts from the Boston Foundation For Sight. They stretch across the damaged scar tissue, but she still sees some spots.
Keeping busy as the Milton Artists’ Guild secretary, acting assistant treasurer and workshop committeewoman, Lesperance hasn’t done too much painting recently. But she’s excited to work on her numerous unfinished pieces soon — a European park scene, a stained glass lampshade, a forest reflection made with alcohol ink — and continue creating.
Lesperance loves to experiment and try new methods, including oils, watercolor, acrylics, sculpture, miniature masonry and alcohol inks.
To showcase the latter, she sat down last week at a table in her evolving studio. Moving three of her works-in-progress to the side, she set a lighter, alcohol spray and paints next to a rectangular non-porous panel.
It was time to set some paint on fire. Once lit, colorful paints spread uncontrollably in all directions on the canvas.
“That’s just for play,” Lesperance said excitedly. “And seeing what will happen.”
This fun, childish side of her imaginative pieces is seemingly freeing.
The artist has sizeable alcohol ink works hanging in MAG’s Art Center and Gallery and in her home-studio. She also creates “the most amazingly detailed watercolor paintings,” MAG president Gisela Alpert commented.
Artistry is a honed skill, Lesperance explained, stressing anyone can learn to paint. She’s a living example of someone defying odds with a unique approach.
“You wanna see what the limits of the medium are,” Lesperance said. “Because if there’s a limit, I’m gonna find it.”