By Lorraine Ellis
Loretta Lizzio was recently listed as one of nine “badass” female artists who are taking over the Australian street art scene.
Originally from far north Queensland, her childhood in this exotic rural setting was idyllic. “Although I was always drawing and creating from early childhood, there was no support for art in the farming community,” she said. “I had always thought that I would stay and work on the family farm, however, when I was 18 my mother, unbeknown to me, enrolled me at uni. Her attitude being, that I could always come back if I wanted to, but I should go and experience the world first to widen my horizons.” And thus, Loretta’s art career began.
“Because of my rural upbringing, I have a strong feeling for nature and this is a reoccurring theme in my art. As much as I like city living, the day-in-day-out existence can wear me down. That’s when I need to return home – to walk barefoot and feel the earth beneath my feet, to immerse myself in the landscape – it’s flora and fauna. On returning to Melbourne, I’m totally rejuvenated!”
Loretta realises that her choice of subject matter is not original. “It’s so hard to find something that hasn’t been done before. So at the end of the day, all one can do, is to do it with passion. I think my love for painting shows through. My palette is sombre and although the subject matter may seem sad, this doesn’t reflect who I am in reality. That said, I find it comforting to view a work that’s about suffering. It helps to ground you as life can be hard.”
Hard indeed! For a couple of years ago, fate intervened and a serious accident saw Loretta hospitalised and immobilised, with a lengthy period of rehab.
“This was pivotal to my work. The black and white commissions I was producing prior to this had me stuck in a time-warp. It was hard for me to grow, as people were wanting more of the same from me. Being in the sterile hospital environment with few distractions, forced me to draw on my imagination – my thoughts and feelings. It was like a ‘brain-detox’ – a rejuvenating experience and I started to play with colour. I made the decision to concentrate on my painting and not commissions.”
“Although I’ve grown so much since my accident, I’m still coming to terms with my painting – focusing on skills and working in oils with acrylic as a base layer. I like the fact that oils are slow drying, enabling me to blend and blend for days. It’s such a sensory medium! The results are rich and glossy-perfect for my subject matter – darker hues with a touch of gold! I love gold and use it in all my pieces.”
Loretta’s artworks are decorative and stylised, yet realistic, lush and romantic.
“I don’t actually consider myself a street artist but I really enjoy it when I do work outside. However, it’s legal and the paint is supplied. My idea of a street artist is someone who’s done it tough and earned their stripes the hard way. I could never claim this. For me it’s always a condoned, comfortable experience and my favourite thing to do, as it gets me outdoors!”
“I never considered that my childhood passion would turn into a career choice – an everyday pursuit that I could make a living from.”
Loretta has two solo shows on her resume. A third is one planned for late 2018 at Juddy Roller Fitzroy, where she also has a studio. It’s an event that I’m looking forward to with much anticipation.