Leonard Aitken is an australian artist and has been painting for 30 years. He has a love for all types of art, music, literature and film. Lenny prefers to paint realistic and surrealistic works. The natural world around him is his first inspiration, but most of his work is transformed by a prodigious imagination. His output is prolific and doesn’t confine itself just to painting but also music (composing, playing piano), writing (stories, poetry), film and animation.
Leonard discovered he could paint at the age of 15, but it wasn't until the age of 32 that he decided to get serious and enter university. In 1995 he completed a Bachelor of Arts (visual arts) at Charles Sturt University, (Wagga Wagga), which he passed with distinction. Since then he has completed a Diploma of Education and has taught art at schools, Tafe, various adult education institutions and at home. However art is his first love.
“I 'm effervescent and lively and can't cope with just doing one thing all the time. I need constantly to experiment, use different mediums and explore different genres.” Usually he has about 20 paintings “in progress” at once, while simultaneously working on various musical, writing and animation projects. His paintings are usually built up in many layers of stains and glazes. His floral and landscape paintings tend to concentrate on the properties of light and colour and have a calm beauty despite their brightness and vivid detail. Some of his more 'whimsical' paintings have been described as resembling 'animation stills'; and his animations as having the quality of 'paintings come to life'.
“My botanical paintings are quite intimate. I love insects, the details of leaves, little droplets of water and the peaceful solitude of a small nook in a garden. Light plays an important role in these works. All life comes from light. I especially love backlighting which shows up, the veins in leaves, the shadows of insects and other leaves or flowers showing through the main motif, or the general shapes and tones of the less important background features. The often soft-focus background suggests their is more in this scene than just the main motif. These works are a microcosm of the bountiful world within which they live.These works are painted carefully and lovingly. They have the ability to absorb the light with which they are illuminated.'
“My surrealist works are wild and varied. Many are poetic representations of ideas or feelings which I have imagined or experienced. Others are based on dreams. Some of these works are just confections and closer to the realm of fantasy. Still others are purely improvised. These works begin with nothing more than the desire to paint. The paint goes on at random and the image grows and evolves. Often the concepts of these works evolve out of the process of painting. The use of space in my surrealist works is often ambiguous. Forms or areas of paint shimmer, moving backwards and forwards within the implied three dimensional plane of the painted surface. These shifting perspectives are like those moments of transformation within dreams where reality changes to unreality, or where scenes or meanings alter suddenly. The titles of these pieces are usually poetic and invite the viewer to observe the painting from their own perspective.”
“My spiritual paintings stem from a strong belief in God and each day I feel that His influence is permeating my work more and more. I believe my work is slowly changing into the way “He” sees the world. It is difficult for me to separate the spiritual and the conceptual since all the concepts which lead me through life are related to spirituality. What is the meaning of life? How do we communicate with god? What is the nature of truth, joy, peace, beauty and love? These are some of the ideas I hope to explore in the near future. I also like to explore more secular concepts. Currently I am challenging myself with a series of paintings exploring and commenting on the different genres, styles and mediums employed in art. I enjoy incorporating humour into these and also many of my surrealist works.”
'All artists are just mere imitators of the great creator. At best we can only modify and stylize what has already been thought of and created. The multiplicity of techniques needed to represent the - solid 'permanence' of mountains and rock, the immutable fleeting nature of clouds, the variety of shapes, sizes, colours and characters of trees (this one is the most difficult) or the fragility of a blade of grass - is endless. Somehow the landscape artist is expected to fuse the leaden majesty of the land, with the vast emptiness of the sky. Light is crucial. It should unify these two opposing elements. It plays a critical part in all my landscapes. Likewise, light is paramount in the creation of a successful seascape. My marine paintings are always dominated by movement and light. The paint needs to be applied quickly to impart the sensation of movement in a marine painting. Waves, splashes and reflections all need to be treated as they are - momentary. Recently I've been experimenting with different palettes with my marine work - some tend towards photorealism - others to a more highly exaggerated colour scheme.'
Leonard Aitken is partial to bright, high keyed colours, strong contrasts and complex and detailed works.
Jetty Theatre Exhibition
An exhibition of mixed paintings held at the Jetty Theatre. (Feb. 2008)
Now and Then
An exhibition of paintings inspired by natural forms – in conjunction with Sandra Finn and friends. Liminal Space Gallery, Coffs Harbour (November, 2007)
An exhibition of paintings interpreting various aspects of nature
Bunker Cartoon Gallery (April 2007)
An exhibition of paintings and animation based on images and ideas inspired by the Coffs Harbour Botanical Gardens
Coffs Harbour Botanical Gardens (Exhibition room) (December 2006)
An exhibition of paintings exploring the various qualities of light in nature and other subjects
101 Bellingen (July 2004)
Confection, Invention, Creation
An exhibition of paintings, drawing, animations, etc exploring the various themes surrounding different types of creation
Wagga Wagga Community Art Gallery and Deniliquin Peppin Heritage Centre
May and September 2000
An evolving exhibition involving drawing, painting, sculpture, found objects and animation
Wagga Wagga Community Library, (July 1997)
Group. (Continuing - present)
Tide and Pilot.
An exhibition of marine paintings held in the Tide and Pilot restaurant near to the Coffs Harbour Jetty.
The Professional Centre
An exhibition of mixed painting held in the Professional Centre on Park Avenue, Coffs Harbour.
(1990 – 2007) Various competitions and group exhibitions (Wagga Wagga, Deniliquin, Campbelltown, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Sydney, Port Macquarie
(1993 – 1995) Various drawing, painting, installation exhibitions at H.R. Gallop Gallery (Wagga Wagga)
Electronic Art (1993-5) An annual exhibition involving installations, animations, performances, conceptual works, etc. (Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga)
2008: Winner of the $5,000 Local Government Area Prize at the second EMSLA award for Still Life at Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery.
2007: Finalist in the EMSLA award .Coffs Harbour
2004: Sawtell art Show. 1st prize open section
2004: Sawtell art Show. 1st prize in oil/acrylic section
2004: Winner of the More Property prize at Salute to the Arts (Coffs Harbour)
2004:Finalist – Country Energy.
2002: First prize in animation section in “Open Slather Film Festival”