[Cultural Currents]

Luke Despatie

For Port Hope landscape artist Luke Despatie, picking up the paintbrush has offered a new way of seeing the world. After a career as an award-winning graphic designer, he’s found that the shift to this method of portraying his surroundings has allowed him to see them in a different light.

Although Luke teaches typography in Fleming College’s Graphic Design – Visual Communication program, he hadn’t really worked with paint since his early days as an art student at Sheridan College. Three years ago, he had the urge to create a one-off piece – a winter scene on Rice Lake – for a Fleming faculty art auction.

As he worked to get the texture of the snow on the frozen lake, the end result took on the impressionistic brushwork style that has become a constant in his paintings.

His work has since garnered acceptance and awards at juried shows around Ontario and a successful debut at the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair.

Local residents recognize that the scenes are rooted in real places, and these become even more familiar through Luke’s paintings – visible brushstrokes and just-so light capture what the scene feels like as well as what it looks like.

“Once you start seeing in that different way, seemingly uninteresting things like gas stations and lonely car taillights and old barns look more interesting,” Luke says. “The rolling hills in Northumberland can be quite spectacular.”

Story by:
Meghan Sheffield