I discovered Luc Leestemaker’s contemporary abstract landscapes in early May of 2012. His art struck me as I felt he was someone with a gentle and spiritual nature. I decided I would make a visit to La Jolla to the Madison Gallery to see his “Living Large” exhibit which began in October 2011. By the time I made my way to La Jolla in August, I found out that Luc had died on his birthday, May 18 at fifty-five years old.
Luc understood that creativity is not just the exclusive province of the artist but believed that everyone can tap into their creativity not just as a means of existing but to live and triumph. Not only did he believe his craft helped him survive, it helped him to thrive. He found “the enduring force and undeniable evidence of the existence of the creative heart.”
Growing up in the Neverlands, he was mostly self-taught. He founded an Amsterdam based performing arts center; he was founder of the European art collective “Hart Poetry”; founder and editor of a monthly business and arts magazine and managing director of “Leestemaker and Associates”, a consulting firm specializing in arts’ marketing and public relations. He believed in his own magical powers and was determined to pursue and sustain himself through his art. He refused to accept the comfortable, dull routine of his family and decided to head to Los Angeles in the 1990’s. He did not believe Goethe’s famous quote “If you can imagine it you can create it” was romantic nonsense. He owned this belief.
After selling encyclopedias, hauling dirt at a construction site, selling sandwiches and modeling, he started to treat his new Angeleno life with zest, choice and intention and fully devoted himself to painting.
After a spiritual and mental breakthrough, Luc decided to paint for himself with no old rules. This freed him to go deep inside and find himself through his art. Luc believed each of us was born with a specific task to do and our lives would be happiest if we pursued our passion with truth.
Down to his last $800 he had, he dove into his art, not his fear and brought canvases and brushes. His story is an inspiration to not be afraid of our creative voice. He refused to buy into obligation, doubt and guilt while striving for happiness and had the courage to live large in his heart.
At one point he nearly lost his sight and required a complicated surgery, yet with no impending artist success, he visualized success through his art and he stubbornly held onto his creativity.
At the opening of his Living Large show at Madison Gallery in October 2011 he said he believed in “having the courage to live in joy and smell the roses, the courage to forgive oneself and others for all wrongs done and rejoice, the courage to open up all unhealed wounds and release all pain, the courage to let love and light come in, the courage to walk where there is no road and pave a new pathway, the courage to not know. The courage to sit with ones fears and insecurities for awhile and then let it go.
“The courage to understand the ego was a necessary wall we had to build to protect ourselves when we came into the world and the courage to know we can now let those walls go and so the courage to demolish our ego with love. The courage to embrace one’s greatness, the courage to face the unknown with grace and curiosity, the courage to no longer judge, the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to love oneself, the courage to break the mirror back to glass and see oneself as particles of love and life, the courage to see life as a journey not a destination. The courage to be here now and accept the journey. The courage to trust the invisible and know that as messy as things on this planet look, there is a divine unfolding for each and every one of us. The courage to be a tightrope walker on the ground. The courage to say each and every day ‘this is the best day of my life’ and yet the very best is still to come.”
Luc published a memoir-like book, The Intentional Artist: Stories From My End, in 2010. His series of essays are inspiring along with a visual overview of his paintings. The anecdotes of his life are honest, funny and poetic with a thread of spirituality all the way through. I think this book is important for anyone pursuing their dreams and passions and will inspire you to follow your talents and never give up on your dreams. I have found that getting out of my comfort zone, confronting my fears and revealing them keeps me alive and inspired. When I experience profound loneliness, I find that turning to art is more important than ever before.
“Being an artist, the words intention and creativity are always on my mind.”
Madison Gallery is on Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla. Here are some views from the rear of their gallery.