Studio Visit

This Emerging Painter's Dreamlike Landscapes Are Filled With Memory

While lots of us would simply take out our phone to snap a picture of a beautiful landscape, artist Kate Lewis captures these moments in her rich oil paintings.

The emerging painter treats her practice like a camera roll and a personal diary rolled into one, drawing inspiration from Australia’s diverse bushland and mountains for her rich and emotive artworks. And when the weather allows, she even paints outdoors on her ‘expeditions’ around Victoria’s High Country!

Christina Karras

Meet Melbourne-based artist Kate Lewis! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The emerging painter is inspired by moments she’s seen and experienced in the great outdoors. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She’s been painting full-time for the past two years, in addition to ‘teaching a few art classes at a high school in the mountains’! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I really enjoy painting en plein air when I can, although I also paint in the studio as slow drying oils can be less mobile, weather can be unpredictable and I do get very cold fingers painting in the Vic High Country, where I have been lucky to spend most of my time this last year.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I work mainly with oil paint. It performs and subsequently claims the surfaces I explore. Painting ‘alla prima’, I paint ‘wet on wet’ or in one sitting.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘There is a lot of build up for each work: sketching, thinking, walking, running, prepping a board, and psyching myself up, so when I do start painting, I don’t want to stop.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘Trees and horses seem to find themselves in my work, I guess I just can’t stop painting them.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Places of personal significance like Jervis Bay, The Otways and Victoria’s High Country come through in her artworks. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files



‘My expeditions through the landscape offer enough stimulus to last a lifetime.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files



‘I have always adored the Impressionists and the Australian modernists.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Kate’s beautiful pieces! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

One of Kate’s final works from her recent graduate show. Photo – Astrid Mulder

Photo – Astrid Mulder

Christina Karras
12th of December 2022

Growing up in Sydney, Kate Lewis spent most of her childhood in the textured coastal landscape of Jervis Bay. ‘Our house backed onto the bush where we spent our days getting lost, crafting and creating imaginary worlds,’ Kate says. ‘I have always been a tactile communicator using artmaking to connect and convey my emotions.’

Since then, a few things in Kate’s life have changed. She moved to Melbourne, gone to art school (three times) and just recently completed her Masters in Contemporary Art from the Victorian Collage of the Arts at Melbourne University.

‘It’s been a windy road to end up where I am today,’ Kate adds. ‘Painting and [being in] the bush have been the only constants in my life.’

The artist has only been painting full-time for the last few years, but her deep appreciation for the great outdoors already emanates from the dreamlike aesthetic of her paintings. There’s a lot of care behind her organic shapes, rich earthy colours, and layered brushstrokes beautifully immortalise the real-life scenes that Kate finds on her regular ‘expeditions’ in Victoria’s High Country and The Otways, alongside her memories of Jervis Bay.

‘My painting practice is a distillation of those moments when you lay your eyes on something glorious – a kind of oily record keeping, if you like,’ she says. ‘For me, these moments spring up most commonly when out strolling in the bush. Of course, I could pen a diary entry or snap a photo, but words aren’t my closest friends, and the hard lines of digital photographs hardly do justice to the oil-laden Australian landscape.’

‘Oil paints are the obvious choice when evoking the languid lines of a eucalypt under the relentless sun – oils ooze and are forgiving. They shimmer with that harsh vividity of the Australian bush yet, in form, perfectly express its laconic and lazy lines.’

When she’s not working from her inner-city studio, or teaching art classes to a high school in the mountains, Kate really enjoys painting en plein air among the trees and quietude of the great outdoors – despite the unpredictable weather and ‘very cold fingers’!

See more of Kate’s work on her website here.

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