Pictured above is an example of the impressionistic artwork created by Lee Stead

Lee Stead’s artwork grabs your imagination

Sherry Bezanson profiles artist Lee Stead in her Community Arts Showcase column.

Lee Stead’s artwork grabs your imagination and inspires your senses in a lively, engaged way.

She has an impressionistic style that flows with rounded edges and playfulness in her stroke.

Her art focuses on west coast images and everyday life, using bright and muted colour in a way that ignites the viewer’s anticipation.

Stead is drawn to the painterly approach in her art, a style that celebrates the use of paint and the sensuousness of the brush stroke, rather than trying to hide this.

Stead started her art career 30 years ago in fashion design, making costumes and doing pattern cutting, custom sewing and batiking.

In the 1980s, it was a watercolour class that moved her from the cutting room to the canvas.

In the 1990s, she discovered acrylic paint, and although the transition was initially a challenge, she’s never looked back.

During that period, she also discovered ceramics and loved the feel and added creativity of hand-built ceramic work, rather than using a wheel.

Out of this evolved Stead’s three-dimensional works, often using language and images to express her creative thoughts with clay.

She quickly found a demand and began teaching adults and children her personalized style.

Stead reports being consistent in her artistic endeavours, and she alternates between acrylic painting and ceramic work. She might spend a few months working on canvas, then change to doing clay work.

“When you get into clay, you have to keep working things, depending on drying times, and so it keeps you engaged with each phase of the project,” she explains.

Stead states that she is inspired by the impressionist artists such as Van Gogh, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec. She loves the work of the esteemed and contemporary potter from the Sunshine Coast, Laurie Rolland.

Stead is currently working on a series of small ceramic owls and, following a painting retreat to Thetis Island, acrylic paintings of closeups of the shoreline.

Stead’s work has a whimsical nature and playful style that delights the palette.

It can be seen at many galleries on Vancouver Island. She is also a member of the Arrowsmith Potters Guild in Parksville.

Look for her in the upcoming Nanaimo Pottery Co-op Christmas Sale Nov. 1-3 and the Comox Valley Potters Guild Christmas Show on Nov. 9.

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