Painter Elizabeth Lennie’s love for water showcased in Guelph-Humber Gallery

Mar 15, 2023 | Arts, Campus News, Culture

Canadian painter Elizabeth Lennie paints to capture her many memories and stories with elements of water.

Each piece of her art speaks to the power and beauty of water.

“The way of water is softness and strength, and the fact that it doesn’t have any resistance really,” Lennie said. “When you’re in it, you’re weightless so you’re free.”

The gala opening night for Lennie’s solo art exhibition, “The Tao of Water” was held at the Guelph-Humber Gallery on Feb. 16, 2023.

“The Tao of Water” showcased Lennie’s oil paintings, which centre on the theme of water.

The event was organized by third and fourth-year students of the Business and Administration program at the University of Guelph-Humber.

Paintings of figures diving in the ocean.

Elizabeth Lennie's love for scuba diving and being in the water is translated into her paintings. Photo credit: Melody Lam

Lennie is from midtown Toronto and has been painting for about 20 years.

Before becoming a painter, she said she was an interior designer, an actress and a voice performer.

“It’s kind of a creative life that I’ve chosen to live,” Lennie said. “But this (painting) is definitely the most satisfying.”

She said she started out painting images of animals and people. This evolved into painting water after rediscovering photos of her children playing on the logs in the water outside their family cottage in Temagami, Ont., just northeast of Sudbury.

Lennie said it took her a couple of years to realize the significance of the images, which showed her children trying to stand on a log and falling down again.

“It’s kind of like a metaphor for life,” she said, referring to the trying and failing in life.

Lennie said her paintings capture real or imagined memories of childhood and the freedom of being a child. She said she also paints to journal her life experiences, both in and around various bodies of water.

Many of Lennie’s paintings were inspired by her experiences scuba diving in the ocean.

She said she remembered swimming with schools of eagle rays and turtles while diving in Mexico.

“It’s magical down there,” Lennie said. “You feel connected to the whole thing on this little blue planet that we live on.”

She named her art exhibition “The Tao of Water,” referring to the concept of wu wei, or effortless action, in ancient Chinese philosophy.

“When you find yourself in water, you find yourself in the flow or the wu wei,” Lennie said. “When you’re in it, you’re weightless, so you’re free.”

She said when she paints water, she is in a zone where she enters timeless awareness.

“I don’t know why I’m drawn to water, but when I paint it, I feel sort of at peace,” Lennie said. “It creates a kind of a sanctuary.”