Leree Lindsay Botanical Painter

Do you feel that your current environment in country Australia, is directly influences your, work?

I live on a farm in the Northern Rivers my studio is surrounded by garden and rainforest the flowers and foliage featured in my paintings reflect the change with the season in the garden. It is a small community that is a very creative with so many amazing artists which  is a great source of inspiration for my art practice.

‘Australian Natives’ 90x90cm, oil on canvas

Can you expand on how you came to be working with palette knives as your major art tool?

I had the privilege to do a weekend workshop with Nicholas Harding back in 2014. He was one of my favourite painters ,his attention to detail and compositions were stunning . That weekend completely changed my art practice. Prior to this I painted with brushes applying the paint quite thinly in layers. It was liberating to apply thick paint with a palette knife it created more movement and gesture in my paintings.  Unfortunately, Nicholas passed away last year a huge loss to the art world.

How many palette knives would you have at hand when beginning a painting?

I use multiples. I have a large spatula that I load up with various tones of colour, then I use about 10 palette knives of various sizes.  I also have couple of scrapers that I use to cut back paint in small sections or scrape off,  when I am not happy with a composition. 

The type of paint is also very important to your work.  Discuss the difference from the paint you use and normal oil paints.

I love using Langridge oil paints as I prefer not to use mediums, they have a lovely buttery consistency that is easy to move around the canvas.  I use a large amount of  paint so I buy 300ml tubes and use corking guns to dispense the paint.

Take two individual paintings that use Australian and European flowers discuss?

‘Spring Lemons with Wattle and Banksia’ 95x105cm, Oil on canvas

I love this painting the lemons, banksias and gumnuts are from our garden and the wattle was picked just down the road.  It was such massive arrangement with great structure, the branch of  lemons were so heavy that they just collapsed out of the vase so the composition was dramatic.  I used a limited palette of yellow, green and earth tones.

‘Our Little Flower Farm Dahlias in a Preserve Jar’ 80×80 cm, Oil on Canvas (European Flowers )

This arrangement was a joy to paint. Our Little Flower Farm, is a local florist and flower grower.

Their farm was decimated in the 2022 floods, but  they have been able to rebuild their business with community support and hard work .

Dahlias are now one of my favourite flowers and are now widely grown in my region. They are large blooms that have a bold structure, they come in the most beautiful, muted pastel tones, combined with roses and summer hydrangeas they make a perfect composition.

Are all your flowers painted in a glass?

Not always if I am painting a wedding bouquet I  will  often just paint the stems tied with ribbon ,but I find a glass vessel anchors the painting and adds reflective colour to the composition .

Sometimes you use one glass and a single bloom, others multiple glasses. Discuss.

My partner has a huge collection of old bottles and preserve jars.  I love to focus on the single bloom in a single vessel but I am also interested in the interaction of shapes and shadows when vessels are grouped together.

Grouped bottles with Zinnias

Where do you acquire your flowers?

We have a large Australian native garden and rainforest plants that I source banksias and foliage.  I also visit the local farmers market where there are amazing flower growers and I am a regular visitor to “Our Little Flower Farm” at Newrybar.  They has amazing, seasonal blooms sourced from local growers and are free from pesticides .

Comment on the use of multiple flowers in, ‘Duranbah Ranunculus and Delphiniums.’

“Jumping Red Ant” is a family run farm that is located at Duranbah, it is a town just north of Byron Bay. They grow flowers and vegetables that they sell at the local farmers market Brianna from the farm only grows the flowers but puts them together in stunning unstructured bouquets .

Duranbah Ranunculus and Delphiniums, Oil on Canvas

The Shift Project

At my solo exhibition in Newrybar last year  I donated the proceeds of the sale of “Duranbah Ranunculus and Delphiniums”  to the Shift Project.  It is an amazing  local charity that supports vulnerable women and that are transitioning from homeless to independence in the Northern rivers.

Your knowledge of botanical names

I am not that good  with the botanical names of flowers thank goodness for google !!

Groupings of colours

The colours in the composition really varies depending on the seasons and what flowers are available, but I always edit a composition to ensure colours and tones are complementary.  I also love the subtlety of a white and cream study .

It isn’t always flowers, discuss one or two of your fruit paintings.

We have a citrus orchard on our farm, so by autumn we have an abundance of lemons, limes, mandarins and oranges  .I love the pop of colour, that mandarins and lemons add to  paintings.  The structure of the branches provide the composition.  I have recently been be combining Australian natives with citrus in a floral compositions.

Mandarins in a Preserve Jar, oil on canvas

Why do you use old Norco bottles?

I am the 4th generation in my family to live on the Northern Rivers my dad grew up on a dairy farm in  Myocum not far from our own property. His family provided cream to the local Norco factory so it is a lovely way to remember my Dad. I am lucky that my  partner is a collector of old bottles so I have quite a few Norco bottles to select from to place in my arrangements.

‘Oranges in a Norco Bottle’, 1.2×1.2mt, Oil on canvas

Discuss the size of your work.

Using one large, one medium and one small.


The largest size canvas I paint is 1.2 m x 1.2m purely for the fact that’s the biggest size that can fit into my car . I find that a larger painting takes a lot more planning, and organising the composition.

‘Spring Mandarins with Wattle and Gumnuts’, 93x93cm, Oil on canvas

I would love to be able to paint a large painting in one sitting but I will always come back to the painting and find something I am not happy with and will modify the composition.


‘Summer Roses’ 53x53cm, Oil on canvas

A study of white roses ,stephanotis and gardenias, is painted with one of my favourite palettes neutrals ,whites and green foliage .


Painting a small study is spontaneous, it can be painted in a short time so the paint is easy to move wet there is also the benefit that the flower is fresh and alive I don’t always paint perfect blooms.  I also like drooping and fading flowers.


David Austin Rose in a Norco Bottle,  33x33cm, Oil on canvas

You also do commissions, can you take one commission that you enjoyed doing and why?  Where has the painting gone to?

I have painted quite a few bridal bouquets and flower arrangements for a birthday present. Commissions can be quite stressful because most clients already have a vision of the final painting in their mind.  I always state that the painting will be an interpretation not an exact copy.

Commissioned Wedding Bouquet, oil on canvas

One of the most enjoyable commissions I completed  was for the mother of a bride. It was going to be a gift for the couple, it was a beautiful bouquet of white orchids and roses. The mother gave me a beautiful description of the couple and their story. I placed the bouquet in an old preserve bottle and inscribed their names and wedding date etched on the glass.  The couple loved it and said it was a perfect memento of their wedding. It is always so rewarding to get feedback like that!

Your original education was in Politics and History, how did the change to art come about? (This answer may make someone else brave enough to make the leap)

I have always loved drawing and painting.  Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to study art when I left school .When I had the time and opportunity I started attending art courses.  For several years I was privileged to study  under amazing fine artists,  John Bokor, Sophie Gralton and Celia Gullet they taught traditional artist techniques they were all  so generous sharing their artistic techniques. It was not until I built my own studio on the farm that I had my own space.  I was able to spend more time painting and experimenting with my art practice .

‘Bold and Beautiful’ 90x90cm, Oil on canvas


Leree Lindsay



Deborah Blakeley, Melbourne, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, February 2023