Art is not what I do - It's who I am!
I have always been creative! I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t! I have done many forms of artistry over the years but as a teen I was drawn to beautiful women, strong women, women who were doing things their way - so that’s what I drew! I never thought I was good enough though. So after getting married and having 3 children I went back to school to become a hair & makeup artist! If I couldn’t draw beauty I would enrich others by making them the best version of their physical selves using makeup.
I think 15 years of doing hair & makeup was probably what I needed - it taught me to step outside my comfort zone and take risks! Nothing is a mistake it’s always a learning curve! Experiment & challenge really pushing boundaries.
I had so much art in my brain that I wanted to start, so much painting I wanted to do but there never seemed to be enough time. I was on my second marriage, working 2 jobs with my 4 children & 4 step children - life was busy to say the least!
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010. I wasn't that surprised really with all the cancer in my family and many friends who had tread the journey I thought "oh well it's my turn" and got on with trying to beat the bastard!
My second child Star had also survived thyroid cancer, having her thyroid out at 16. Phewww!
Fucking cancer!! It’s taken so many of my loved ones! My mum died at 51 from non Hodgkins Lymphoma when I was 8 months pregnant with my first! My best friend and mentor taken from me when I needed her most! God sure had a lot to answer for in my opinion!
Needless to say I'm still here but the worst was yet to come! Not having to sell the dream home and moving many times because I had cancer or the husbands ex had lost the plot again and we had the kids. No life was yet to throw the fucking book at me - with the death of my beautiful 20 year old daughter!
Yes my beautiful girl Star died of cancer in 2016! Cancer took my mum & now that bastard had taken my daughter! Why was I destined to lose so much! I battled with that loss - enough was enough! I’d lost family members and best friends but this loss I couldn’t bare! 2 psychologists and a psychiatrist, medication, wanting to die and many sessions later, I’m still here, still breathing, still trying to figure all this shit out! The one constant that has seen me through has been my art. It is through self expression that I have kept my sanity (or I'm just crazy ha) pouring my heart out through painting & poetry, art has been my catharsis and my saviour! Through deaths, marriages, children, sex, drugs, affairs, love, weight loss, weight gain, depression, self doubt and finally acceptance!
I'm still here, still breathing and still trying to figure this thing called life. I have been on a journey of survival and self discovery! A very spiritual journey throughout my life which has taken me from Christianity to Buddhism, Beautiful Balinese Hinduism and now back to the old religion Witchcraft. They all serve me actually - they are fundamentally all the same & I am blessed to have 2 beautiful guardian angels to guide my path! I have discovered that it’s always been about the brightest and purest light of love! Love IS the answer! I have always had the power within me - I know that now!
This journey has also brought me a wonderful arts community and friendships in Wyndham - now becoming a member of the newly formed Red West Arts Collective.
I received a grant at Chateau Orquevaux in France May 2019 to be an artist in residence - chosen from hundreds of artists from 32 countries - residing with 12 other artist for 4 weeks in a beautiful Chateau! It’s a dream come true! Wyndham City Council followed with a Community Pathways Scholarship for $1000 - auspiced by Red West - to help fund my trip to Europe. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity that pushed my practice and inspired me in ways I couldn’t have imagined and life long friends along the way.
I have been blessed to sell my art - yes people actually like it enough to part with hard earned cash - that really is amazing and I am beyond grateful! I have been commissioned to do paintings for collectors and I just sold my first piece to an overseas collector in Canada! Life is one hell of a ride!
In reality though, I am an untrained artist, despite having certificates in Hair & Makeup, Cosmetic Tattooing and Cake Decorating. I am no stranger to challenge, study or hard work and I feel the next step in my arts career is a Masters in Fine Art. I know it will push me out of comfort zone but so did France - no challenge, no change - that’s my motto! This is my time to shine - and I’m grabbing it with both hands and holding on strong because I want to be better - a better artist and a better person! I want to see things from a new perspective and I know that a Master in Fine Art at RMIT is the way forward!
Hair & Makeup
Award Winning Hair and Makeup Artist Leesa Gray-Pitt is a Fully qualified and professional artist with over 20 years of industry experience in Bridal, Fashion, Advertorial, Photographic, Commercial and Fantasy.
After drawing portraits since her teens, Leesa decided to follow her passion for art and fashion and use real faces as her canvas. Completing a Certificate II in Makeup Artistry and Dress Style Hair, she went on to win Hair and Makeup Artist of the Year 2003. An opportunity to Assist Rae Morris followed and she never looked back - assisting Rae at LMFF for 4 years and various other projects, Leesa honed her skills and went on to secure an agent - Camerons Models (now London Management)
Having worked on many famous faces including Jennifer Hawkins, Margot Robbie and Miranda Kerr she has also worked at Chanel 7 and other prestigious shows such as The Logies, Alan Border Medal and MKR.
Returning in 2015 to her first love painting, Leesa is a self taught artist who is drawing from many sources of inspiration from the colours in nature to man made sculptures, but faces - whether in the flesh, on canvas or paper - will always be a constant source of pleasure and her true passion!
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
2020 - Commenced Master of Fine Art degree at RMIT0
2019 - Accepted at RMIT to study Master of Fine Art 2020
- I am an Artist at Arts Assist South Melbourne
2017 - Oils one on one with Caroline Esbenshade
2016 - Acrylics Workshop with Caroline Esbenshade
- Life Drawing Classes at Saltwater Community Centre
2014 - Diploma of Cosmetic Tattooing
2003 - Certificate II in Makeup Artistry
- Certificate in Dress Style Hair
- Hair and Makeup Artist of the Year
2019 - Voted as Vice President for Red West Creative Co operative
- Artist in Residence at Chateau Orquevaux France 2nd to 30th May
2021 - $50 - $500 group exhibition at Sunshine Art Space curated by RedWest 26th Feb - 27th March
- 'The Seven (not so) Deadly Sins' solo exhibition 18th - 28th February at BlackCat Gallery
2019 - NOW, WEST Group Exhibition 15th - 23rd November Longspace Gallery
- RedWest Creatives Co-op Group Exhibition 8th Nov - 7th Dec C&H Gallery
- All The Things That Remain Group Exhibition September NOIR Darkroom
2016 - Exhibited at Throw Up Your Art Exhibition- Colourbox Studios
GRANTS AND AWARDS
2019 - Shortlisted in the Wyndham Art Prize
2018 - Denis Diderot (A-i-R) Grant Artist in Residence at Chateau Orquevaux May 2019
- Community Pathways Scholarship Grant from Wyndham City Council
PUBLICATIONS AND REVIEWS
2020 - Article in Star Weekly for my first solo exhibition "The Seven (not so) Deadly Sins"
2019 - Article in Star Weekly for primo Red group exhibition
2018 - Article in Wyndham Star Weekly
- Article and video in Our Voice - Mercy Health Newsletter
2017 - Artworks published on Galphia online gallery www.galphia.com
- Published interview and art in Not Random Art Magazine
- RED Redux installation art for Wyndham City “Heart of Armour”
2020 - Member of Melbourne and Victorian Artists MAVA
2018 - Member of RedWest Creative Co-op
- Member of NAVA
Never have I been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm
- Stevie Nicks