As artists, Lorraine Lewitzka and her husband Terry shared another side to their beautiful relationship, deeply appreciating each other’s work.
Lorraine would consume herself with her superb figurative water colours in their gorgeous heritage home in the heart of Victor Harbor, while Terry would be in his adjoining studio painting another stunning, possibly award-winning landscape.
They probably joked about that ‘line in the sand’ as the best of friends do. There was always that respectful distance, until sadly when Terry died suddenly in March last year, aged 73. He remains missed by so many.
Of course, in her personally challenging times Lorraine has been left with a trove of beautiful memories, but it has been their love of art that has continued to inspire her in front of her easel with brush in hand.
The difference is, for the first time in her 38 years as an artist, Lorraine is planning to venture into water colour atmospheric landscapes and figurative oils having recently been a student under the guidance of renowned artist Tony Smibert in Longford, Tasmania. Of course, Terry would be pleased.
To Lorraine, this change in direction is one of the special things that is embedded in art, regardless of the medium and subject. It is that ability to discover and express and challenge one’s inner self, and she feels this is one of the special things about the 21st South Australian Living Artists festival throughout August.
The venues this year are extreme – there’s even one in a laundromat – and the mediums and technical abilities are also broader than ever, but Lorraine loves the notion that more of us are simply admiring art. She shares her passion with music, stemming from her piano lessons as a little girl, teaching herself to play the guitar, performing in the bush band Hard Yakka for 20 years, playing the flute in the Granite Community Band, to recently learning to play the cello. “It’s all about creativity,” she says.
“The thing that pleases me most about art is that it has become a very cathartic, self-expressing thing now,. To me, my work is never good enough; I am always looking for the magic and I don’t think I have found it yet.
“I would never have done what I have done if I had not married Terry. I was a very insecure, negative, a did not believe in myself type of person. He would say we are going to have an exhibition in the house and I want six paintings, and I would do them begrudgingly, but now the table has turned and I just love it.
“In part, that is what Terry’s passing has done for me; it has stopped me in my tracks. I am not painting for ambition or to get anywhere – not that I ever did – but for sheer pleasure.
“Of course, it has always been very satisfying to know someone has bought some of my work. In the beginning it was a shock because you do feel exposed as a person when your painting which may embrace your inner-self is hanging on someone else’s wall.”
Along her partnered art journey Lorraine has seen change that has not necessarily represented what and who we are today.
“Terry and I were very much into the fundamental academics,” Lorraine said. “He followed the path of Heysen being in that age group, but I think a lot of art these days is for decoration. We have gone away from that real substantial work which is something I have battled with because you know you have worked hard for 38 years to try and understand how best to represent things.
“Art is very fashionable, and in some cases the academic foundation – design, composition, colour, form and knowing how to draw – is being put aside. I do a lot of figurative work and I have been drawing people since I was four. To be able to do that convincingly you have to understand all the planes and how things work.
“A lot of people might copy a portrait from a photograph and not interpret them, so they look like a photograph; very flat and not very real. You look at the work from the Chinese and from across Europe where they still teach that fine art and you see the difference.
“No one expects you to play a concerto on the piano without having assumed you have done your scales and theory, yet with art anyone can pick up a paint brush.
“There is a classic book Art and the Death of a Culture which talks about how you can read the culture of the day by the art that has been painted. Personally, I feel a lot of art today is supermarket art because it is done quickly for a decorative purpose.
“There can be value in it if people like it, but the traditions taught for the past 500 years are getting lost. I guess it’s the same with a lot of things in life.
“Painting is about expressing feelings, and art is good for the soul. I am forever learning.”
Lorraine also sees art as a wonderful part of her journey of life, starting as a trainee fashion artist at 16, and moving to graphic art.
The interest in painting, in water colour, did not come until her sons Tyson and Luke went to school. She recalls art as being “something to do”.
It was 30 years ago this year that Lorraine was accepted as a Fellow of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts. In 1990 she won a study travel award present by the Rotary Club of Victor Harbor that took her overseas to study with various watercolour teachers. “The overseas study tour changed my life and the perception of myself because I did not have a lot of confidence,” Lorraine said. “I went to the US for two months and did four water colour workshops, and then to London for a three week oil painting course. You cannot call it a comprehensive art education, but it was a great life education.”
As we tour the Fleurieu Peninsula during this SALA festival there will be an element of wonderful, stunning expression in every piece by so many fine artists. Some work may not be as brilliant as others, but nonetheless still meaningful. For Lorraine, her inspiration from Terry has always showed in her every brush stroke. Art can be like that; an indelible bond. As a lovely lyric by Barry Gibb goes: This world may end, not you and I.
For the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula SALA Festival program, go here.