The first time I saw Elizabeth Lennie’s paintings, I felt like I’d been thrown backwards in time to the summers of my childhood. Hot days spent by the kiddie pool, floating aimlessly while getting baked by the sharp heat of the Indian summer– these sense memories evoked by a single glance at a painting on my computer screen.
Like a lot of people who aren’t in the art world, I have always felt that art must be judged by how it makes you feel. To some people, Jackson Pollock might be considered one of the greatest artists to have walked this planet but if you feel nothing while looking at his paintings you have every right to not believe the same. The artist I chose to focus on today makes me feel inexplicably happy and light with her art work, and that to me is a sign of a great artist.
Situated in Toronto, Elizabeth Lennie appears to have been working as an artist from as far back as 2005. I discovered her through her most recent work– her exhibition from 2018, aptly titled “The Liquid Landscape”.
Elizabeth Lennie’s paintings tend to have one recurring theme that can be traced back to even her early work: water. People at the beach; a woman captured in mid-air, diving towards the water; a person wading into a lake– in all these paintings Lennie beautifully captures the water and light in what appears to be just a few brushstrokes. This penchant for water is explained by the artist:
Water has been the backdrop to the significant events in my life. The reconstruction of radiant moments that exist in memory define the images I choose to paint, of swimming in the liquid landscapes of northern Ontario and the aqua waters of the Caribbean. I work with oil paint on canvas, layering thin washes with thicker impasto. The images are often figurative and explore the memory myth of summer. The paintings are the map of my world, in both abstract and narrative form. I look for archetypes, in an attempt to explore notions of self and community within the resonance of shared memory. By isolating and extracting vibrant colors in a signature soft-focus style, the memory myth of summer is explored and journaled in a series of liquid landscapes on canvas.-From elizabethlennie.com
Although she may not be classified as an Impressionist, Lennie’s painting bring to mind paintings like Monet’s La Grenouillère and Max Liebermann’s Bathing Boys (1902). She has an uncanny ability to capture motion and light, bringing to mind the freedom of summers that we all seem to share as a memory in our collective consciousness.
In addition to the multiple exhibitions she’s held in North America, Elizabeth Lennie also has her works at the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame, the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, Naples Grande Hotel Florida, and Centre Hospital San Fransisco.
All images courtesy of elizabethlennie.com.