Centering on Green

From the Oswego Alumni Magazine, Summer 2020


For Christine Tisa ’73, the color green plays a central role in her life.

“Green is the middle between yellow (a warm color) and blue (a cool color),” said Christine, owner of Tisa Gallery in Clayton, N.Y. “It can be either warm or cool. If there’s too much yellow, the green becomes fiery like lime green. When more blue is added, the green transforms to coolness. It can bring the feeling of comfort and repose.”

As an artist, she has studied the color theory of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf schools, who said: “Color is the soul of nature … and when we experience color, we participate in this soul.”

“[Green] is in the middle of the color wheel, so it can represent balance and harmony,” Christine said.

As a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor at her art studio and at River Yoga along the St. Lawrence in Clayton, Christine said green represents the heart chakra (energy center) within the body. The green chakra encompasses the mid-section of the body, including the heart, as well as the arms and hands.

“This is how we receive and deliver love—through the heart and hands,” she said. “The heart chakra is associated with balance, calmness and serenity. In yoga, through breath work, meditation and asanas (posture movement), one works to keep all of these chakras open and not blocked.”

She credits her study abroad experience at Pisa University in Pisa, Italy, during her sophomore year at SUNY Oswego for igniting her passion for art and exploring other cultures.

At Oswego, she majored in elementary education and psychology, and became a teacher after graduation. As a Laker, she served as president of Alpha Delta Eta sorority and remembers fondly working on community service projects with her sisters.

She went on to earn a master’s in arts education from Syracuse University and then an MFA in painting from Rochester Institute of Technology.

“I was taught to start with the colors, make them move on the canvas and then create what your image becomes,” she said.

She taught art in the Alexandria (N.Y.) Central School District and then Utica (N.Y.) City School District until her retirement in 2013.

She has studied in Italy, England and Mexico, and has taught in Spain, Costa Rica and Croatia. She absorbs as much as she can from these different cultures and will reflect their unique aesthetic into her artwork, including Mandalas, a geometric figure with roots in Hindu and Buddhism that ties into her yoga practice.

Often the classes she teaches today combine her passion for yoga, art and culture.

Because much of her artistic work focuses on nature and landscapes, green figures prominently in her painting.

“Green is the image of the living—meaning plant life and earthly life,” she said. “Green, when overworked, can turn downward and muddy, instead of fresh and life-giving.”

Just as colors, and in particular the color green, can evolve with the mixture or layering of another color, so too individuals can develop their spiritual selves by adding in meditation or letting go of tension and stresses that no longer serve them.

“Color is one of the elements of art, and for me, that has become a life endeavor,” Christine said.