Mediums: Watercolour and ink
Style: Impressionistic. Vibrant. Full of movement and life.
I'm an artist living in Brisbane, Australia painting portraits of musicians both local and international, usually with a strong blues/rock influence but not exclusively. I also enjoy capturing local Brisbane life, particularly city street and blues pub scenes with an emphasis on the figurative.
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and studied art at school and art college. I worked as a graphic designer for twenty years in advertising and packaging for some of the top international companies. I have always loved art and all its mediums, but my true passion is for watercolour. Recently I have used my love of blues/rock music to do a series of portraits of musicians.
Please tell us about your first memory creating as a child
That would have to be colouring in with my first set of wax crayons as a pre-school child. I cannot remember a time when it wasn't an important part of my life. I used to design paper dolls based on the Blondie comics and also loved designing houses, particularly enjoying adding the final touches, drawing and colouring in the furniture.
Tell us about the music you listen to when painting
Blues/rock, Stoner rock and Southern rock. Some favourites off the top of my head are Gary Clarke Jr, Clutch, Neil Young, Joe Bonamassa, Otis Taylor, Queens of the Stone Age and Australian bands Transvaal Diamond Syndicate and The Blackwater Fever.
How would you like viewers to perceive your art?
To be honest I have never thought of it like that as I am just doing what I want, not thinking how the viewer might perceive it. With my portraits I hope to capture their personality, and the mood, rhythm and style of their music. For example my painting of the late Australian bluesman Dutch Tilders is very different in style and mood to my painting of the Australian rock singer and guitarist Dallas Frasca. With Neil Young I wanted to capture the intensity and intelligence in his eyes.
Can you explain your creative process?
I spend a lot of time thinking about a painting before I do anything. I play with the image in programs like Gimp and different apps like Image Tricks using filters, a favourite being Posterise. It's excellent for simplifying the subject and establishing where the darkest darks and lightest lights will go. It is important that I am in the right frame of mind, focused, but also with a sense of fun and excitement and music is integral to that. So the first thing I do when I start painting is put the music on, loud! Sometimes it feels as if my art and music have merged. Music, hand, brush and brushstrokes all moving together. I get very intense and prefer no-one to come near me or disturb my concentration in any way.
I get tactile, pouring ink straight from the bottle onto the paper. I'm not fussy about pencil marks showing through the paint. I scratch, draw and scrape using credit cards, fingers, ends of paint brushes, anything that is close at hand. A lot of my painting is wet into wet which is the scariest but most exciting part. I can mess it up at any point and as watercolour is not forgiving, and if it doesn't work, I have to start again. A portrait takes me about 8 hours to complete and afterwards I am exhausted, but in a good way.
What are your inspirations?
Music, people, colours, pattern, texture and light. I always have my camera with me, as there is a potential painting where ever I go. A favourite activity of mine is to travel by train into the CBD and then sit on various benches around the area, people watching. Train stations are also wonderful for photographing an eclectic mix of people in everyday situations.
I've exhibited my artwork twice at the Redlands Art Gallery in Cleveland, Redland City, QLD, as part of a group exhibition.
How have you been selling paintings?
I am selling Fine Art Reproductions of my musician portrait paintings on my website www.nicolalautre.com
Online Art Promotion
I have a website and Facebook artist page www.nicolalautre.com and www.facebook.com/NicolaLautre
Early influences were Toulouse Lautrec, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Now days I am interested and influenced by a variety of different styles as there is so much artwork to access online.
Please tell us about an admired artist
Guy Denning. An English contemporary artist based in France. His work and mood is often quite dark but is executed with both outstanding technique and incredible sensitivity, conveying strong emotions. He has many YouTube videos showing his technique.
Can you relate an interesting event from your life?
It was surprising that I was accepted for my first job, which was as an illustrator for a retail store. This was after dropping out of university and before entering art college. I arrived with a motley collection of artwork, but was taken aback when they asked me to do a on the spot drawing for them. I didn't feel like doing that, so made the excuse that I lived far away and needed to catch the next bus home. I still got the job. It was also in that first job that I told my art director she swore too much and asked if I could move my desk into the store room. Fortunately my work ethic improved and I went on to have a successful career as a graphic designer.
Has anyone ever said something about your art that annoyed you?
"What is that" said pointing at a section of a painting, which was a fence. I guess it's a fair question, but it came across as rude and insulting.
Simply to keep painting what I want and to maintain my enjoyment and passion for it.
Advice for Artists
Paint what you want to paint, not what you think might sell. That way your work will be authentic and unique.
Nicola Lautre – An Artist with a Passion for Listening to Blues/rock music and Painting in Watercolour