Artist Lucinda Leveille shares a collection of dramatic oil paintings that depict the vast Australian landscape. See more of her art on her website.
My dad was an artist and I wanted to be just like him. I begged my parents to let me go to art school when I was fifteen. After much negotiation, I started my five years of study at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia. As is often the case, life and obstacles get in the way of your dreams—at one point I was even told I had no talent and to find another career. But you need to believe that your time will come to follow your bliss.
I’m glad I did, because now I paint every day.
First and foremost, I am a landscape painter in oils. My recent body of work has been in response to the isolation that Covid caused. It explores the “solitary and stillness” in the landscape, using the imagery of beautiful dark stormy skies with a single tree in the landscape. I often feel surrounded by chaos while I stand perfectly still in the storm.
My work has progressed to the road series. Many of us are moving in different directions as a direct result from the effects of Covid. People are starting to look for more balance in their lives. Some continue to work from home while others are looking at complete lifestyle changes and different directions.
I have an ongoing fascination with horizon lines—the boundary between heaven and earth, land and air, the turmoil in the clouds and the stillness and solidarity of the earth.
The tree image that appears in most of my paintings can vary from fine detailed line work with only bare branches and twigs, to a mass of vibrantly coloured leaves in full summer bloom. I identify with the tree image. I feel that these paintings could even be classed as self-portraits. We all have different aspects to our personalities, and I find that trees show different sides of mine.
Heavily influenced by our incredibly vast Australian landscape, I’ve found that one of my favourite sized canvasses are large, long and narrow. This landscape format helps to emphasize that horizon line with which I am obsessed. The large size canvasses also give me time to immerse myself in my painterly world and become part of the painting.
I’m often asked, “How long did that take to paint?” My answer is usually 40 years! In truth, some paintings just seem to come magically off the end of my brush and onto the canvas, while others take a little more coaxing.
Watching clouds, staring at trees, looking through hundreds of reference photos and literary quotes—all are sources of inspiration. When I have my composition and palette in my head, I immediately start to lay down paint and simply continue. I often find that my first composition is my best composition and rarely deviate too far from the original idea.
My paintings are becoming more and more simple in composition, not only with images but also the colour palette, which is moving towards a simple complementary set. I find this adds a dynamic. I remember being told at art school to only include what you need to tell the story, and not to confuse the viewer with extraneous information. I’m finding that advice invaluable.
I am on my own journey to learn, explore and experiment and always trying to improve on my last work. So many paintings—so little time!