Lisa Coutts' whimsical illustrations appeal to art lovers of all ages

Whimsy, character and colour line the walls of Art House Gallery Ballarat and viewers might see just a little of themselves in many of the works.

Lisa Coutts’ pastel illustrations are both eye-catching and insightful at the same time.

Ms Coutts describes herself as an “illustrator more than artist” and perhaps unsurprisingly spends a lot of her time illustrating children’s books.

“That’s why my work is quite character-based,” she said.

“The work I do is based more on feelings and things I see and experience. It’s quite personal but at the same time I feel everyone can look at them and relate to them and take something away or apply their own story and experiences to them.

“I think it evokes something within the viewer whether it’s a memory or it reminds them of family or an experience.”

Thirty two of Ms Coutts’ large paintings now hang on the wall of the Art House Gallery and they are catching the eye of shoppers passing through the City Centre Arcade.

“We are getting lots of people stopping as they pass when the colours catch their eye,” said gallery owner Heather Fairnie.

CHARACTER: Art House Gallery Ballarat owner Heather Fairnie with the colourful pastel illustrations of Melbourne artist Lisa Coutts. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

CHARACTER: Art House Gallery Ballarat owner Heather Fairnie with the colourful pastel illustrations of Melbourne artist Lisa Coutts. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Ms Coutts has not seen her work hanging in Ballarat, but has fond memories of the city where she used to come for family holidays as a child.

“I look forward to getting up to Ballarat and having a Look. We used to have family holidays at the Begonia Festival so I’ll come and revisit a few childhood memories.:”

She’s also hoping her visit in the next few weeks will inspire some new works and illustrations. Ms Coutts often sketches or photographs scenes and characters that inspire her, then takes them and her imagination back to her North Fitzroy studio to produce an artwork.

If she’s working on illustrations for books, her work is more likely completed on a tablet or computer.

Ms Fairnie said the exhibition of large-scale pastels were “often whimsical but never contrived”.

“Lisa’s works capture moments that linger forever and the nostalgic charm of her work has a broad appeal to adults,” she said.

“They are really bright and vibrant. They are illustrations not just for children, they are illustrations that adults buy for themselves because they have beautiful dreamscapes that bring back memories of being a child, or their own children, family and different experiences.”

Her personal favourite is one that is apt for Ballarat’s winter weather.

“There’s one called Fly Away Girl and to me it’s very Ballarat, with rain blowing and the girl holding on to her hat to stop it blowing away in the wind. It’s very Ballarat, especially the last few days.”

Art buyers were also attracted to subjects that were a little lighter than some other artworks.

“Sometimes you just get that light piece of art work that is something so pleasurable to have in your house and doesn’t weigh you down when there are so many heavy things in the world.”