Pastel colours, hazy lines and soft shapes define the essence of Lucy O’Doherty’s distinctive artworks, though the emotional core of her paintings runs deeper than oil on linen.

“My paintings have a softness about them which I believe mimics the way I’ve used chalk pastels since I was little, and captures an atmosphere of nostalgia,” she reveals. “Because oil paint takes a while to dry I find it easy to blend lines into each other, and it makes the painting hum like a hazy memory.”

The 30-year old artist, represented by Edwina Corlette Gallery in Brisbane, was awarded the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship late 2016, a prestigious prize bestowed to a talented young painter with an established body of work who is best able to demonstrate the benefit of furthering their art education in Europe. “I try not to get my hopes up in competition or prize situations, so as to avoid disappointment. I remember feeling a great wave of shock and excitement when I was announced!” Lucy admits.

“It’s been life changing, and I think it’s so important that scholarships like Brett Whiteley’s exist so that young artists can be nurtured and pushed in a new direction within their practice.”

The scholarship offers $30,000 to be used in Europe for a period of at least six months, in conjunction with a three-month residency in Paris. “I’m so excited about my trip to Paris. Living in Sydney is expensive for anyone at the moment, let alone for someone trying to pursue art and support themselves at the same time. Having the opportunity to focus solely on making art and not having the constant pressure of making ends meet will be incredibly freeing, and I think it’ll allow for more experimentation and exploration artistically,” exclaims Lucy. “I also think it’ll be good for me to experience so many other cultures’ contemporary art scenes first hand, which is something Australia can’t really offer from being such an expansive, isolated country.”

Lucy’s winning oil painting, Shack at the Little Garie, depicts a coastal shack from the cabin communities in the Royal National Park in Sydney, built in the first half of the 20th Century and a rare example of Depression-style architecture. On top of taking the scholarship title, Lucy also displayed her first solo exhibition at the Edwina Corlette Gallery in November 2016. “I feel like Brisbane has an excellent and active art scene. It can be daunting exhibiting in another state for the first time, but I met some interesting and supportive people at the opening who made it an easy transition.”
At present, Lucy O’Doherty is organising a group exhibition to showcase a mix of established artists who have been similarly inspired by the cabin communities and surrounding landscapes of the Royal National Park.

“And of course travelling for six months will be a huge adventure, so I’m currently very consumed with plans for that. I’m so looking forward to experimenting and learning whatever I can while seizing this incredible opportunity to be overseas.”