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Meet Nancy and Lisa Cupolo

{From the 2024 Spring magazine}

Written By WENDY HOBDAY HAUGH  |  Photos PROVIDED  |  Artwork by Lisa Cupolo

Two years ago, Nancy and Lisa Cupolo of Ballston Spa released their first collaborative children’s book: A River’s Journey. 

An imaginative and brilliantly illustrated story about the magic of nature from a river’s point of view, the book inspires children and adults alike to seek out and appreciate the beauty of the natural world. Written by Nancy, and illustrated by her eldest daughter Lisa, the Cupolos hope that their book will guide children’s innate curiosity about science and the environment. 

Usually, the text of a story precedes the illustrations. But in this case, Lisa’s artwork not only came first but, unexpectedly, became the impetus for this joint project. Lisa’s artistic journey began on Christmas day 2021 when her father gave her an art set with a sampling of several different types of paints, including acrylics, watercolors, and oils. Up until then, art hadn’t played a significant part in Lisa’s life. But Frank Cupolo thought his daughter might enjoy painting as a creative outlet—and, as it turned out, his hunch was absolutely correct! On the dedication page for A River’s Journey, Lisa Cupolo thanks her father “for gifting her a set of paints for Christmas in 2021, which unleashed a talent she didn’t know she had.”

Once Lisa began dabbling with mixing colors and creating different textures, she was hooked. “After experimenting with different media, I found I really enjoyed working with acrylics,” she says. “Over the next four months, I really became entrenched and created more than 200 paintings. I’d get up early, around 5 A.M., to paint before heading to work. Then, I’d come from work and paint some more.” 

From the start, Lisa—who has a B.A. in English Literature, works in sales, and has recently begun her own business, Intuitive Arts—demonstrated an instinctive flair for color and texture. “I liked art as a child,” she recalls, “but didn’t do much with it. In fact, a middle school art teacher told me I wasn’t good at it!”

But over the past two years, Lisa has come to realize that structured art classes simply aren’t her thing. “Self-taught has worked for me,” she says. “Art is supposed to be something you do for you. That’s why I started painting. I didn’t think I was any good at it. I just did it for fun.” Pleasantly surprised by what she created, the artist now participates in craft shows and sells her canvas prints and notecards on her Intuitive Arts website. 

Lisa masterfully mixes brilliant, eye-popping colors, and her fluid brushstrokes evoke a wide range of moods. As a result, her nature scenes come alive on the canvas. “Lisa’s paintings are vibrant in color, contrast, and texture,” Nancy Cupolo muses. “Each piece is unique, earthy, harmonious, and free-flowing. There is a pervasive atmosphere of joy, happiness and hope to Lisa’s work, and children and adults, alike, sense that energy and excitement.” 

Rather than beginning to paint with a set idea in mind, Lisa has learned to relax, trust her intuition, and see where her paintbrush takes her. “Kids don’t analyze or plan ahead. They just pick up a crayon and start drawing, and that way works for me. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to worry about a set plan or matching colors. It’s exciting to just use your intuition and see what develops.” 

Awed by her daughter’s creations, Nancy Cupolo was inspired to write a rhyming story based on a series of Lisa’s nature paintings. “I began with the river because we’re all on a journey on the river of life. A river is always flowing, sometimes moving quickly, sometimes slowly. It can change course, but nothing can stop it from flowing. I begin my story by wondering: What does the river see? Children often see the world through the objects around them, so the river speaks in our book.” 

With over 45 years of experience in education, Nancy was well-equipped to write her first children’s book. Energized by the experience, she went on to release two books for adults in 2023: Lessons of Hope & Resilience: A Parent/Teacher Guide for the story, A River’s Journey, and Through the Child’s Eyes: Looking at Life through the Lens of a Child (a parenting ‘cookbook’ for success). Both books include Lisa’s inspiring illustrations.  “Collaborating with my daughter has been a wonderful experience,” says Nancy, “and we are working on our fourth book now. Lisa sent me a beautiful painting of a tree that was so vibrant and full of life, I told her, ‘That tree is talking to me’—which led us to write a book about the importance of protecting our environment, especially the trees.”

Through their published works, the Cupolos hope to cultivate understanding, love, and a greater appreciation for the natural world and our responsibility to it. “More than anything,” Nancy says, “I would like our readers to know that each of us contributes to the world around us. We have the power to bring beauty into this world in so many different ways. To renew our spirit, take frequent breaks from technology to focus on and enjoy the wonders of nature. It’s important to never give up—keep flowing, like the river!” 

To see more of Lisa’s paintings and note cards, visit

Nancy may be reached at 518-424-8565 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.