About the Artist
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About the Artist

Lea was born in Louisiana, and spent her early childhood moving from state to state until settling in New Jersey in third grade. Then at the age of 48, she painted a tropical beach scene mural in her garage! The success of this venture inspired Lea to get some serious art instruction at Mercer County Community College and ArtWorks. A few years later, she studied a more impressionistic technique under Susan Sarback, based on the technique taught at the Cape Cod School of Art.

Lea enjoys painting flowers, seascapes, and landscapes, and works both from photographic references and en plein air. She also paints portraits (of children and of pets!) on commission, working from photographs using a method similar to grisaille (but not quite the same).

Lea made her first sale in 2005, and had her first solo show in 2007. She has been juried into many local and national shows, including the Ellarslie Open, the Artists of Yardley, and the Mercer County Artists shows locally, and the Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional (2014), and 6th Biennial National Art Exhibition in Punta Gorda, Florida. Her work has also been accepted in online shows, including the Contemporary Art Gallery Online, the American Juried Art Salon, and 21st Century Art. Until the gallery closed, she was represented by the Farnsworth Gallery in Bordentown, and is a member of ArtsBridge and TAWA, and an associate member of the Oil Painters of America.


Recent Events

thumbnail image of painting "Hat with Flowers"My painting, Hat With Flowers, was featured on the cover of the April/May issue of The Connection Magazine, Bernards - Ridge Edition.thumbnail image of painting "Floating Feather"

Two of my paintings received awards at the 2017 Mercer County Artists Exhibit: Floating Feather won a Purchase Award, and will be hung in the Mercer County Administrative Building Gallery (or one of the administrative buildings), and Pennsylvania Hills won an Honorable Mention.thumbnail image of painting "Pennsylvania Hills"

My work was recently reviewed as a part of the NJ Audubon Society's Annual Juried Exhibit, "Wild New Jersey." You can find this review in The Times, Friday, April 15, 2016. The article was titled "Exhibit shines spotlight on Jersey's natural beauty" by Janet Purcell, and included the following comment on my artwork:

"Second place was given to Lea Novak for her horizontal oil painting, "Standing by the Ocean's Door" in which a lone gull stands in the incoming surf contemplating the wide expanse of waves coming in. Novak's "Someone to Watch Over Me," in which one gull stands on the beach behind another who is resting, could also have been a winner." 

Thank you Ms. Purcell!

Highlighted recent exhibits include:

  • Mercer County Artists 2017 Juried Exhibit: Floating Feather, Pennsylvania Hills
  • Philadelphia Sketch Club, Art of the Flower Juried Exhibit: African Violets
  • NJ Audubon Society Annual Juried Show - 2016: Standing by the Ocean's Door, 2nd Prize; Someone to Watch Over Me
  • Artists of Yardley Juried Show - 2016: Pink Gladioli
  • Mercer County Artists 2015 Juried Exhibit: Windflowers
  • Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional 2014: Lilies in Sun and Shadow
  • Contemporary Art Gallery Online, Seascape/Water Theme, July 2014: Barnegat Bay at Sunset, 5th Place
  • Hamilton Public Library: I have several works on semi-permanent loan to the Hamilton Public Library.

Online Radio Interview

When my painting, Barnegat Bay at Sunset, placed 5th in the Contemporary Art Gallery Online's July show, it garnered an online radio interview on BlogTalkRadio. You can listen to the interview, and hear me talk about art by going to Blogtalkradio.com (click the Internet Radio link under the box below) and searching for An Artist Speaks. Look for Season 3, Episode 16.

Listen to internet radio with CAGO Media on BlogTalkRadio



Artist Statement

This quote from the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church says it so well:

"The true and the beautiful belong together, for God is the source of beauty and also the source of truth. Art, which is dedicated to the beautiful, is therefore a special path to the whole and to God. What cannot be said in words or expressed in thought is brought to light in art. ... Art is not an end in itself. It should uplift people, move them, improve them, and ultimately lead them to worship and thank God. (YOUCAT questions 460-461)

I paint because I want to capture a scene so I can remember it forever, and share it with others. I want others to see what I saw of the beauty God made for a moment—light dancing in the tree leaves or on the surf, glowing through petals and waves, or peeking through leaves or clouds. Sky and water are constantly changing, and flowers are so ephemeral!

I like to paint things that people will recognize, so I use a realistic but slightly impressionistic style. I struggle to simplify, to not include every detail I see, but keep my focus on the primary reason for painting the subject. Details can so often distract from the focus of the painting. Often, I don’t know if a painting is going well until I leave it and come back.

When I paint, I lose track of time. I’m living in the moment, focused on what I’m seeing and how to get that down with paint on canvas. I love the colors, and the feel of the paint. I like the way the paint goes onto the canvas, and how forgiving it is. The painting process offers constant challenge, fueled by the reward of accomplishment when it all comes together. It’s always a pleasant surprise when I can walk into the studio, look at what's on the easel, and think, “Wow! Did I do that?!”



2017 Mercer County Purchase Award for "Floating Feather," and Honorable Mention for "Pennsylvania Hills," Mercer County Artists Juried Exhibit

2017 Cover Artist for the April/May issue of The Connections Magazine, Bernards - Ridge Edition, featuring Hat With Flowers

2016 2nd Place for "Standing by the Ocean's Door," NJ Audubon Society's 2016 Annual Juried Show

2014 5th Place for "Barnegat Bay at Sunset", CAGO--July 2014, Seascape / Water Theme "Barnegat Bay at Sunset"

2006 Best in Show for "Grey Day on the Beach," 21st Century Art 4th Qtr 2006 Juried Exhibit - Horizons


Solo Exhibitions

2012 "Hamilton Township Library Case Exhibit, February-March 2012, " Hamilton Township Public Library, Hamilton, NJ

2007 “Scenes from the Summer (and other memories),” Triumph Brewing Co., 138 Nassau St. , Princeton , NJ -- See article from November 2, 2007 Packet Publications

Juried Exhibitions

2017 "Philadelphia Sketch Club Art of the Flower 2017, Philadelphia, PA

2017 "Mercer County Artists Juried Exhibit," Mercer County Community College Gallery, Hamilton, NJ

2016 "Oil Painters of America Salon Show," Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, IN

2016 "NJ Audubon Society Annual Juried Show 2016, "Plainsboro Recreation Center, Plainsboro, NJ

2016 "Artists of Yardley 2016 Juried Exhibit," Artists of Yardley Arts Center, Yardley, PA

2015 "NJ Audubon Society Annual Juried Show 2015," Plainsboro Recreation Center, Plainsboro, NJ

2015 "Artists of Yardley 2015 Juried Exhibit," Artists of Yardley Arts Center, Yardley, PA

2015 "Mercer County Artists 2015 Juried Exhibition," Mercer County Community College, Hamilton, NJ

2014 "FODC-4th Annual Art Show," Friends of the Delaware Canal, New Hope, PA

2014 "OPA Eastern Regional 2014," Eisele Gallery of Fine Art, Cincinnati, OH

2014 "CAGO--July 2014, Seascape / Water Theme," Contemporary Art Gallery Online

2014 "Philadanco," Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA

2014 "31st Ellarslie Open 2014," Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ

2014 "Artists of Yardley Juried Exhibit 2014," Artists of Yardley Arts Center, Yardley, PA

2014 "Mercer County Artists 2014 Juried Exhibition," Mercer County Community College, Hamilton, NJ

2013 "Bucks County Gallery 6x6 Show," Bucks County Gallery of Fine Art, New Hope, PA

2013 "Artists of Yardley Juried Show 2013," Artists of Yardley Arts Center, Yardley, PA

2012 "LBIF Small Works 2012," Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, Loveladies, NJ

2011 Hamilton Library Loan Program, Hamilton Township Public Library, Hamilton, NJ

2010 "28th Ellarslie Open," Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ

2010 "AJAS Fine Art 11th Exhibit," American Juried Art Salon (online)

2010 "Flowers Exhibition," Center for the Arts in Southern New Jersey, Marlton, NJ

2009 "Artful Giving and Spirited Surprises," Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts, Millville, NJ

2009 "Mercer County Artists, 2009," Mercer County Community College, Hamilton Twp., NJ

2009 "LBI Small Works 2009," LBI Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, Loveladies, NJ

2009 "Sand, Beach, and Glass," Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts, Millville, NJ

2008 "6th Biennial National Art Exhibition," Visual Arts Center, Punta Gorda, FL

2007 "25th Ellarslie Open Salon des Refuses," Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ

2007 "American Juried Art Salon," American Juried Art Salon, Plano, TX

2007 "MCA Members Juried Exhibition," Montgomery Center for the Arts, Skillman, NJ

2006 "21st Century Art 4th Quarter 2006 - Horizons," 21st Century Art


2011 Workshop with Ty Hodanish

2009 Workshop on Color and Light with Susan Sarback

2005-2006 Completed classes in Landscapes, Portrait, and Life Drawing at ArtWorks in Trenton, NJ

2004-2005 Completed classes in Basic Drawing and Painting at Mercer County Community College

1976 BA, Douglass College

Professional Affiliations

2007-Present, Associate Member, Oil Painters of America

2007-Present, Member, Trenton Artists Workshop Association (TAWA)

20010-Present, Member, ArtsBridge

2007 Member of Montgomery Center for the Arts

2006 Member of Arts Council of Princeton