Luke FitzGerald with some of his colourful work.
Luke FitzGerald with some of his colourful work. John McCutcheon

Award winner's art 'obsessions'

LUKE FitzGerald has an eye for making something simple look beautiful.

He takes inspiration from the things he loves and turns them into artistic representations of how he sees them.

Luke, 25, is autistic, and his favourite thing about painting is working with colours and drawing his favourite things.

"I like colours," he said matter-of-factly.

"I am good with colours, and I like drawing my favourite things."

Luke recently won the prestigious Xstrata Young Artist Achievement Award in the 2011 Queensland Regional Arts Awards for his painting Small Faces: Obsessions, which depicts 11 famous faces.

The artwork, which has since sold, will be touring regional Queensland next year before being presented at an exhibition at the State Library in Brisbane.

Luke also recently won first prize for a painting of Cyclone Yasi in the Kith and Kin Association exhibition, which showcases artworks by artists with disabilities.

To celebrate Luke's success, his mother, Kris FitzGerald, has organised a solo exhibition for Luke in conjunction with International Day of People with a Disability.

The exhibition, which is being held from next Saturday at the Key for Me project space in The Big Top Shopping Centre, Maroochydore, will feature some of Luke's best pieces, with most of them coming off the walls of their Maleny home.

Kris's reason for organising the exhibition was to encourage the passion which has brought so much joy to Luke's life.

"Luke has had an exhibition many years ago, but we realised he got so much joy out of all of his artwork, that we had to do something with it," she said.

"He has hundreds and hundreds of paintings, and he gets such joy from sharing these."

Luke has just started painting using acrylics, working with Sunshine Coast artist Nathalie Bastier in Flaxton every Tuesday.

Kris said that Luke was a fast worker with his art, never spending too long on any one painting.

"Luke is a very prolific artist and rarely spends more than 30 minutes on a painting - he is very fast and spontaneous," she said.

When Luke is not painting, he is spending time at the Compass Institute in Palmwoods.

Compass is a program designed to assist people with disabilities develop real-world skills.

The farm at Compass allows Luke and other men and women with disabilities to complete tasks ranging from helping to construct gravel driveways to tending to homegrown vegetables.

"David Dangerfield began Compass with a group of like-minded people to give people with a disability the opportunity to do some hands-on work and get them away from their computers," she said.

"The boys get to come out here and work on the farm and do some manual task. It's the best facility and it has been great for Luke."

He has hundreds and hundreds of paintings, and he gets such joy from sharing these.

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