Doris Lusk

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1916, d.1990

Hills From Springfield

  • 1961
  • Pencil and watercolour
  • Donated from the Canterbury Public Library Collection, 2001
  • 660 x 830mm
  • 2002/174
  • View on google maps

A mother of three, Lusk fitted her art around family life. Her daughter Jancis remembers her as an unstoppable force, “never still, thinking all the time, not a moment to waste”, who painted inside the playpen while the children ran riot outside it. She used outings with her children (and later her grandchildren) as opportunities for sketching or painting watercolours directly from the landscape. “I did not paint in a continual professional manner”, she revealed of her early years with The Group, “I painted when I could.” Lusk’s facility and flair in the watercolour medium are apparent in these two paintings, one depicting the small Canterbury settlement of Springfield with the main divide rising beyond it, and the other taking in the inland view from Pines Beach in Pegasus Bay. Executed in Lusk’s customarily decisive and economic style, they convey a variety of textures and spatial relationships within a few well-placed, brushstrokes.

(Doris Lusk: Practical Visionary, 4 June – 30 October 2016)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Nature's Own Voice, 6 February - August 2009

    An important aspect of Doris Lusk’s output, often overshadowed by her work as an oil painter, is her work with watercolours. Hills from Springfield dates from her mature period and displays her talent and confidence, both as a watercolourist and working outdoors. The scene, a small settlement at the foothills of the Southern Alps, has first been sketched in pencil, over which layers of fluid colour have been applied. Details, such as shelterbelts, have been painted in a spontaneous manner, simplified and suggested through the use of single brush strokes.

  • While Doris Lusk is perhaps better known today for her oil paintings, watercolours also formed a major component of her output. Springfield is a small rural settlement northwest of Christchurch at the foothills of the Southern Alps.

    An example of Lusk's mature style, Hills From Springfield has been worked up in a rapid and spontaneous manner and was probably completed outdoors. Lusk has sketched in the scene with pencil, then added fluid watercolour washes to the composition.

    Lusk was born in Dunedin. She held her first exhibition in 1936. With her husband, Dermot Holland, Lusk moved to Christchurch in 1943. She exhibited with both the Canterbury Society of Arts and The Group. A potter as well as a painter, she tutored pottery from 1947 and was a foundation member of the Canterbury Potters Association in 1965. From 1966 to 1981 Lusk taught at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury.

    (Label date unknown)