In a fast-paced, computerized world that is often dehumanizing, Lucelle Raad’s works evoke an intimacy and sensitivity unique in the world of art. She celebrates the life of the child. Her style and palette are distinctive. Her vision is the wonder of children. Pensive moments, secrets shared, a helping hand, simple play. These are among the elements of life she portrays. There is joy, discovery, wonderment. Born and educated in England, Lucelle moved to South Africa in her early twenties. She there took up painting under the tutelage of commercial artist Dorothy Shaw. Her subject was the figure, specifically, the Bantu men and women with whom she came in contact every day. Later, fearing for the future in South Africa of her two infant children, she and her husband came to the United States, settling on Long Island. Eventually she relocated to a lakeside home in Clemson, South Carolina.
To supplement her husband’s income, Lucelle pursued her painting, hoping to find a market for her work. An artist friend introduced her to an established distributor, who said that he could find a ready market for her work on one condition: that she paint children. Using her son and daughter as models, Lucelle took up the challenge. And very soon, she came to find the effort supremely rewarding. When, some time later, she turned a body of new work over to the distributor, he was ecstatic. And so, her career was launched.
If asked why she has continued exclusively to paint children, Lucelle is quick to reply: “I find unending satisfaction in combining my artistic interest in the figure with my emotional interest in children. There is more expression in an offhand gesture by a small child, than in all the posturings of our adult world.”
Describing the work can be complicated. There are distinctly impressionistic influences. There are also evident traditional qualities with a contemporary feel. Lucelle’s work is realistic, though she abandons classical symmetry to capture individual movement. Spontaneous gestures, disparate groupings and asymmetric patterns appeal to the emotions. The moment is captured as if it is unfolding before one’s very eyes. You know these kids; you somehow understand their impulses and can share them. Best of all, you can see and feel the developing character within the child.
Lucelle employs a high key palette that is bright and active. Colors seem to change as you watch. Her acrylic medium is well matched to her compositions. She concentrates on movement and action rather than precise detail. Her bold brush strokes possess a sketch-like quality. A passing glance at the dozen or so works in progress propped helter-skelter around her studio suggests the multiplicity of her vision. In one, a fledgling artist perfects his masterpiece in chalk on pavement. In another, two boys on a beach point seaward, picturing the day when they can join the crew of a sailboat on the horizon. In a third, a ten-year old girl, knees pressed to chin, dreams the innocent dreams of childhood.
One is touched by Lucelle’s blending of the commonplace and sublime. The hopeful innocence of her children conveys in each case a new awakening of the American dream. Meanwhile, America fulfils this British-born artist’s dream each time one of her youthful figures ventures forth into the grown-up world.
In her more than twenty years of painting, Lucelle has self-published upwards of 100 limited and open edition prints. Serigraphs of her work are published by London Contemporary Art, of London, U. K., and Jacksonville, Fl. The serigraphs are distributed worldwide and have found enormous popularity aboard the world’s cruise liners.
Greeting cards, calendars, sculpture, needlework and wall coverings licensed from Lucelle’s designs can be found in galleries and shops worldwide.
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