You might be an artist who would like to introduce yourself and your work here or maybe you’re a business with a mission to describe.

“I always say that I grew up as an orphan in a family of orphans,” Leonie starts, as we take our seats in her studio, an oblong-shaped hall that forms part of the 1st Durbanville Scout Hall. Every inch of it is splattered with paint, some accidental spills from the strokes of a paintbrush, others purely intentional by the artist herself, on canvas and in an array of colour and emotion. Her two beautiful Swiss Shepherds find comfort by her feet and I sip the coffee she’s made me from a metal, paint-stained cup.

You don't have to stay there...

We are the sum total of our past...but we don't have to stay there.

I come from an exceptionally traumatic background.

From the age of four up until my late twenties I suffered abuse in my closest relationships. At eighteen, I went to varsity in Potchefstroom to study my life’s passion – art. As I tried to find my feet as a student/artist/young woman, themes of angst, despair, anger and abuse filled my paintings. I won prizes this way. I won respect and admiration for my talent. But I was also re-living the suffering and continually victimizing myself, which ultimately dug the pit of hopelessness deeper.

At the age of 29 life came to a turning point, as I had come to the end of myself – I gave up on trying to build life my way. I turned to my faith (which I had rejected along the way) for help and became part of a faith-filled family  which is where I met and married my wonderful and loving husband, Rob. I never looked back.

In the past, I had used my story and negative feelings as the source of my artistic inspiration.

Everyone can resonate with negative visual language...

You see, everyone can resonate with negative visual language – we all drift towards it, because it is a reflection of our imperfect selves. The Bible speaks of it in this way: “Sin gives birth to sin, but Spirit gives birth to Spirit”. I became a victor instead of a victim. I saw light and wanted to speak light in my visual language.

The more I began to see what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable through my walk of faith, the more I put it into practice – both in my personal life and in my artistic practice. I realized that the dark paintings I had painted before were not inspiring the viewers to a higher calling or glorifying the Creator, nor even showing what is good and lovely.

Painting is a strange business.

J. M. W. Turner

I now see my work as contemporary Romanticism rendered in an Impressionistic style, sometimes to the point of complete Abstraction. I enjoy applying bright colors in thick, multiple layers of paint to bring out messages of hope on canvas.


Artist Statement - Why do I paint what I paint?

My aim to make art that not only tells my story, but all our stories. To speak to the abused, the down-trodden, the hopeless, the lost, the lonely, the shamed, the orphan, the abandoned. 

My work is characterized by contrasts – the juxtaposition of light and dark on several levels – which is recognized throughout my paintings. Fine detail, drawn lines and meticulously painted shapes clash with bold brushstrokes, spatters and blurred and melted colors. 

The brightness of oils are mixed with the soft translucency of encaustics (wax), and creates hidden messages and layers below. The layering give the work a softness and richness that invites the viewer to look closer and to experience the satin smooth surface through touch. The wax layers get more and more translucent through the warmth emanating from the exploring human hand. The viewer becomes a part of the slow change and clarity of the painting…as if the message is rising from the depth of the hidden soul to the surface of the mind. There is a strange ethereal beauty to these paintings, as if made from air.

It is important that the viewer is part of the process. Time blurs and heals our wounds. Like a soft veil that hides the dark and reveals the light. There is an eternal seeking after a new revelation. 

The world I depict is not a physical location in space and time. It is an inner world, a world where thought, and raw emotion defines the shapes. 

For me the creative process is a key to that inner, psychological world – the world of darkness and abuse, (my own) contrasting with the desire for life and freedom. The past a constant voice that has to be silenced and overcame with faith, hope and mind. 

The work revolves around themes like how we relate to the world we live in, based on our past experiences. Is change possible, can I live my life in freedom without the chains of my abuse holding me back? Will I forever be identified as the victim?

My work often deals with issues such as darkness and light, dull and bright, life and death, alienation and loneliness and the pursuit of peace, life  and harmony. In the process I strive to obtain a balance – on the border of the conscious and subconscious, where I react and paint out of my spirit. 

I apply multiple layers, using different media like inks, acrylics, oils and wax. Adding and removing elements and I work directly on the canvas, Painting over parts, scraping and melting the paint, making mistakes and getting lost in the process. Although frustrating at times, getting lost and losing the overview allows for unforeseen and unusual to emerge. For me creativity is as much about tearing down and destroying as it is about creating and building up. Sometimes I need to destroy a mindset and a belief to create a new one. This also means that the final work is the result of the process rather than a planned image.

Towards the end of the process I add the finer detail, finishing highlights and shading and cleaning up certain lines and areas. You often find traces of the process itself in a finished work: The structure of layered paint, delicate lace like layering, layers intertwined and partially exposed, as if I need to expose myself and become vulnerable in order to heal and give healing to others. There is no more shame. All is brought into the light

Since my process is cyclic it is also endless – I will often revisit already “finished work” and rework it all over again, giving it a new dimension and adding to the historicity of the work.

Follow Leonie step by step during the creative process, from initiation to final product. Share her ups and downs, frustrations and joy when a painting comes together. Step into her mind and share her creative thinking processes. Become part of the creative journey

Leonie.e.Brown has a degree in Fine Arts and diploma in teaching and studied Fine Art in Potchefstroom. She was one of the early winners of the Volkskas (now ABSA) Atelier, and today lives and works Cape Town. She has been exhibiting and selling since 2004. Passionate about painting and experimenting with Encaustics, she focuses her work on the relationship between the human spirit, faith, touch and daily life.

I choose to follow hope and life”


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