Denise Luke from Moruya is the latest Featured Artist at The Gallery in Mogo and is a lover of Australia’s vibrant colours, flora and fauna, a prolific and successful artist and teacher, she confesses to being a person who needs to be constantly busy and creating.
She says “Art is one of my two great passions”, her other passion (revealed later) is far removed from painting.
Denise's show is full of nature, detailed pictures of blue wrens, kingfishers and scarlet robins depicted in pastels, watercolours and acrylics - studies from life and her photographs. Meticulously handmade leaves add an extra touch to these artworks.
Formally living in Maloney’s Beach, she says “Our home was visited by every imaginable bird over the 25 years we lived there”, adding “the birds were so tame they were almost part of our family.”
When it comes to painting the ‘bird’ pictures Denise locks herself away where her only focus is the painting in front of her, no distractions allowed—she has the single mindedness, focus and determination of a top racing car driver, which is not surprising as motor sports are her other true passion. She says, “I practise my art and live my life according to the dictum of the late Peter Brock—bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell“.
Alongside the bird paintings at The Gallery are pictures of red Central Australian landscapes with small painted lizards breaking the margins between her artwork and frame. A large acrylic seascape, small underwater scenes in ink, and encaustic abstracts - created from manipulating hot, coloured wax complete the exhibition.
Denise has won over 60 prizes for her artwork in the last thirteen years and is most proud of the acquisitive prize for her painting ‘Nullarbor Dreaming’. This large, eye catching painting, depicts a brolga sweeping in over a hot desert landscape towards what appears to be a lake—but is it? Denise explains, “I saw this image while travelling across the Nullarbor on the Indian Pacific. I was convinced I could see a shimmering lake in the distance, but my husband kept on insisting it was a mirage—I was so affected by the scene, I stared at it long enough to fix it in my memory so I could capture it on canvas”. The painting was raffled at a later date in order to raise thousands of dollars for Cystic Fibrosis. It’s not just the prize but also the ability to support others that excites Denise.
More of Denise’s work can be seen in two large murals on the Gazebo at Batemans Bay’s Botanic Gardens.
The Gallery is a co-operative venture of CABBI, a society open to local arts and crafts practitioners. People interested in finding out more about CABBI should drop in to The Gallery or phone 02 4474 2243.