Q + A: Leslie Fitzsimmons

ALLOWING INTUITION TO GUIDE HER, LESLIE FITZSIMMONS IS COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY.

How would you describe what you do to someone who hasn’t seen your work?

My art is my personal response to natural landscapes I’ve immersed myself in. Colours of the land deeply resonate within my visual memory, often provoking me as I paint to amplify what I see. I paint intuitively, unsure of what abstract forms will emerge. Each painting is its own. I don’t follow rules and I remind myself as I create to not be so precious.

How long have you been practicing as an artist?

I am a self-taught artist. I studied graphic design, and earned a Bachelor of Visual Art Education degree. I went on to spend eight years facilitating in art museums both in Australia and the USA. Then made a switch to my painting practice about two years ago. From a young age I photographed landscapes and sunsets, sketched flowers and plants, and formed natural object sculpture. Even now, I’m always keen to learn or experience something new.

What is your studio like?

My studio is a place where I heighten my senses. While my visual memories always dance around in my head, I become more attached to them if I create a space mentally and physically for them to flourish. It’s almost a ritual – before I start painting I turn on music. I look around at my colour swatches, photos and maps of places I’ve been. In the background are stacks of art and travel books, my journals and sketch pads, collections of wood and stone scattered among jars of brushes and paint tubes. Essential and personal, these are my resources. I paint in the centre of it all, on a large table. The windows and doors to my garden open, allowing natural light to filter in.

What is your process?

I begin by mixing a colour palette inspired by nature. I then allow intuition to take over. My compositions form as I paint, nothing is pre-sketched or predetermined. It is all a very responsive process. Once I create a shape or space, another forms as I react to how it presents itself on the surface. I never know how the finished painting will look.

What do you aim to achieve through your art?

To be comfortable with uncertainties. I realised if you can’t break loose or give yourself a break, you will break. I experiment, fail and learn. I trust in my process and embrace the outcome without question. I hope this state of mind can resonate in my viewers as well.

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