Contemporary realism figurative art
Luke Hillestad, "Sea Offering," 32 x 53 in.

Classical figurative painter Luke Hillestad shares the insights from his collection, “Waterborne,” inspired by the sacredness of the birth of his child and the element of water. View his current exhibition at to learn more about these works.

Contemporary Realism Figurative Art: “Waterborne”


The “Waterborne” theme emerged while preparing for our daughter’s home water birth this year. It was in the Piscean season of melting winter snow and spongey wet earth that we imagined the amniotic water that held and delivered each of us.

We recounted the lore surrounding water. We thought about the element’s significance as a symbol and suite and its connections with the moon, emotions, the feminine, and poetic. Then there is the paradox of all the ways water sustains us and its threats and dangers to us – natural disaster, rising sea levels, the deep dark fathoms and all the mysteries of what may live in the deepest ocean.

As I created the show, and currently, there is an immediate environmental threat to water resources, and Water Protectors who put their lives on the line to preserve sacred waters.

Selected Works:

In Irish Mythology the Children of Lir were turned into swans by a dark spell. They stayed this way for 900 years. A law passed that no swan be harmed in order to protect Lir’s children. At the end of the curse they were discovered by a monk and returned to human form in their old age. Swans are still protected in Ireland.

Contemporary realism figurative art
Luke Hillestad, “Children of Lir,” 2021, oil on hemp, 30” x 48” (76cm x 122cm), 32” x 50” (82cm x 128cm) Framed

In “Marooned,” a young traveler, mission diverted, bound, resolves to breathe in life like the shore takes in a tide.

Contemporary realism narrative art
Luke Hillestad, “Marooned,” 2012-21, oil on linen, 24” x 26” (61cm x 66cm)

“Young Medusa” is a portrait of a wide-eyed Marine-daughter beginning her transformation after her multi-chambered nautilus heart was marked by the Sea.

Contemporary realism figurative art
Luke Hillestad, “Young Medusa,” 2020, oil on linen, 20” x 22” (56cm x 51cm)

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