Australian Fine Artist

Lorraine Lewitzka

Venue: Pastel Society of Victoria, Australia

Topic: Figures in Mixed Media

To introduce Lorraine I am borrowing from her biography in her web site. I feel I can’t do better than she has to describe her introduction to painting.

“Lorraine Lewitzka was born in South Australia in 1952, into a family of artists and worked as a fashion and illustrative artist in the late ’60’s, beginning watercolour painting with Marjorie Hann in 1985. In 1988, Lorraine was accepted as a Fellow of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts and began exhibiting in private and mixed exhibitions.

A significant highlight and turning point of Lorraine’s career was the inaugural study award at the Victor Harbor Rotary Art Show. As a result, she was tutored by four distinguished watercolourists in the USA, being Robert Wade, Betty Lou Schlemm, Christopher Schink and Alex Powers, after which she attended a summer school at the Slade School of Art, London, discovering the new medium of oils in life painting. Adding to her traditional drawing and watercolour skills, was valuable time spent with Leonid Vasin, Professor of Fine Art from China. Over the years, Lorraine has always endeavoured to produce works of substance, giving the viewer opportunity to grow with and into the painting. At present she concentrates on figurative landscapes, portraiture and interiors in watercolour and mixed media with her intimate oil interiors finding much popularity also. With good, underlying draughtmanship Lorraine enjoys capturing the moments and snapshots of everyday life, playing with the light or solitary moods in which the subject lives.

Lorraine has continued to participate in many exhibitions and consistently wins prizes in both watercolour and oil competitions. Her articles have been published in Australian Artist Magazine. She has demonstrated at the prestigious Camberwell Art Show and worked as guest tutor on several occasions for the Australian Guild of Realist Artists (also a member), and invited as judge for their final 2006 exhibition.
Having tutored regularly in South Australia, Lorraine has also been called to teach in Queensland, NSW, Vic, Tasmania and WA.
She has entered the Doug Moran and Portia Geach Portrait Prizes and was a finalist in the Alice Bale Travelling Award of 2008 and The Cricket Art Prize, 2012.”

As you can see Lorraine has a very sound grounding in her chosen career. As we were waiting for her to set up I had an opportunity to have a look at the paintings she had with her for members of the society to purchase on the night. Her colours are clean and crisp and the line work is subtle and very appealing. Her paintings have loads of atmosphere and there is no doubt about her excellent drawing skills. It was not surprising that several were snapped up on  the night.

Lorraine had arranged to demonstrate two mixed media pieces, using water colours and pastel. The subjects were different as well as the papers. One was water colour paper which was painted over with a water colour wash, the other was pastel paper which was what looked like a mid tone of grey allowing immediate blocking in of the shadows and darks with water colours and pastel over the top.

The love of figurative work comes out in a lot of the paintings that Lorraine brought along with her. Her skill at rendering figures also became obvious as she very quickly drew in her layouts. After the initial lines were in she put in her darks with the water colours. The addition of white gouache in the window areas showed up her painted areas and as the pastels were drawn in the whole thing just came to life in front of us. Lorraine also used charcoal pencil and said that she likes to keep lines in her work and not to give them too much of a finished appearance, but keep the more loose and painterly effect. In effect using the principle of less is more, allowing the viewer places to rest the eye and fill in information for themselves.

A very light yellow was drawn in over the white in the window and reds and blues for the figure with soft highlights helping to model the shape. Various colours went on to the bench top without too much detail in effect creating an interesting pattern more than a copy of items that may have been in the photo. Little marks went in to show the curve on the tops of jars and scurried marks for highlights elsewhere. Before the break for coffee the artwork was completed. This left the time afterwards for a quick study over the now dry watercolour wash.

The males figure and camel was from a photo taken in Morocco. Drawn in lightly with a charcoal pencil with lots of little straight lines the figures were built up gradually. This is a great method of drawing anything as you can keep on slightly adjusting until you have everything the way you want it. The focal point was decided on and water colour was again used to quickly block in areas of shadow. A few splashes of paint were popped into the background and a large part of the top right hand side darkened with the paint as well with some allowed to run and drip down the page. The figure, which was in traditional clothing had a striped pattern which now really stood out.

A light source was decided on as it was not clear in the photo and the business of laying in the pastel was very quickly done as we only had about half an hour. Some of the background wash was wiped back with a damp sponge and gouache was again used for light areas on the man. Some darks were laid in to balance out the dark area introduced to the top right hand side and the camel received some textured marks with mid and darker toned pastel. The majority of the detail was left for the main feature which was the man in his traditional clothing. With regular checks in the mirror Lorraine was able to put together this second work with amazing speed. The little finishing touches of the red in the hat and warm skin tones made the work look stunning.

Two amazing works done in one session and one was donated to the Society for the raffle on the night. A very generous gift which we were very grateful for – especially the lucky winner! My special thanks to Lorraine for such an informative, creative and interesting demonstration.

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