Have you ever felt oil paint? Not just seeing oil paint on a canvas, but feeling it in your hands, between your fingers. There is something sensual about it. Oil paint can be applied in such a way as to create a vivid three-dimensional effect, arousing within the viewer a desire to touch the piece (although they should not). This is the feeling that Lee-Ann Heath’s paintings draw from a viewer – One does not only see the colour. They feel it.
Lee-Ann Heath is a South African artist who’s bold, textured oil paintings have captured the attention of many. When one views her work for the first time, they are struck by how confidently Heath has applied the thick paint, producing a sensual piece that looks almost as though it could be icing on a cake. To find out what inspires Heath to create such luscious works, I asked her some questions:
Why are you drawn to oil paint and your chosen subject matter?
I have always loved the sensual tactile quality of oil paint. I can achieve rich glazed surfaces contrasted with thick impasto surfaces without any compromise or boundaries.
I have chosen at present to dedicate my energy to landscape painting because it is limitless. Although, I really enjoy a good sit-down with a still life.
What does your art represent? (Does it represent something about you or a message about the world, history, etc.)
Random everyday experiences inspire me. Inspiration is limitless. Discovering “gifts” in the garden gives me immense pleasure. The way the light slow dances on the tips of the leaves and then rudely disappears. My cactus nestling its flowers with its spiny arms. I can blabber on and on, but I just don’t do it justice. The landscapes are gateways open to interpretation. I call it, “tele-pollination”. This, to me, is an amalgamation of teleport or teleportation and pollination. I want the work to be distinctive and leave the viewer engulfed with a pleasant sensory experience.
What techniques do you use, and is there a connection between your process and your artwork’s message?
My methods for achieving the desired result vary. It is like cross-pollination. My choice is oil paint because I can simulate sensation. I use syringes, palette knives and brushes. I also like to grind and mix desired tones that is not available, and it gives the work a certain radiance.
At present, I start with a sky backdrop to create a certain mood that ignites momentum for what is to follow. I would start perhaps by making a particular flower, my main character, and build the rest of the narrative around that. Introducing layer upon layer of form and colour once again leads to a certain cross – pollination, and a as a result, new form and texture.
When the intentional meets the unintentional I have “aha!” moments.
What are your origins as an artist? Have you always been drawn to painting/art as your creative outlet? When did your love of art begin?
I was fortunate to have an ambitious loving mother that encouraged originality and inventiveness. I was always curious as a child; opening discarded enamel paint cans, breaking through the thick crust only to reveal goo and sticky oil.
I had a brilliant high school art teacher, Adelle van Vuuren, who played a significant role in my love for art and who embraced my unconventional approach to painting. She let me be with my enamel and cut open golf balls with elastic nests, plastered on canvas with Polyfilla or whatever I could lay my hands on.
There has always been certain similarities and emphasis when it comes to form, shape and texture throughout my art making. I have always analysed, dissected and rearranged paint textures and colours to reveal landscapes in many forms.
Lee-Ann Heath’s have been work is shown in art galleries such as Everard Read and Knysna Fine Art, and can also be found in collections in both South Africa and abroad.
Take a stroll through Lee-Ann Heath’s gardens here:
Everard Read Gallery Site: https://everard-read-capetown.co.za/artist/LEE-ANN_HEATH/works/
About Knysna Fine Art: https://www.finearts.co.za/