WHEN it comes to describing himself, Lucas Grogan keeps it sharp.
"I'm a storyteller," the paint-spattered Grogan says. "Long story short, mate."
Like his art, Lucas Grogan's own story is colourful and filled with character.
Born in 1984, Grogan grew up in East Maitland. As a child, he found Maitland visually boring, which was frustrating for a kid set on being an artist. He painted and quilted his way out of the Hunter and into the public eye.
His meticulous, geometric works, often peppered with cheeky words, have become sought after both in Australia and overseas.
Grogan has returned to Maitland, or "Maito" as he calls the city of his childhood, for a solo exhibition at the city's art gallery.
And he is "stoked".
"It's the first time I've ever been shown in Maitland, despite growing up here," Grogan says.
Gallery Coordinator Kattie Bugeja says the exhibition, titled "Long Story Short", showcases the work of "a Maitland boy made good".
"This is the most significant collection of his work in a solo exhibition to date," Ms Bugeja says.
The exhibition comprises more than 30 works from public and private collections, demonstrating not just Grogan's love of the colour blue ("Fifty shades of blue", as he puts it in one of his "A Library" paintings) but also his diversity as an artist.
"It shows the three sides of my practice; painting and drawing, textiles and murals," he says. "It's the first time all three have been brought together."
During his career, Grogan has been commissioned to paint murals internationally. Now, in preparation for "Long Story Short", he has been painting more than 50 square metres of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery blue.
With fellow artist Ileigh Hellier assisting, he is creating three large murals, Weave, Tile, and Text.
Kattie Bugeja says with Grogan working on the murals this week, visitors have had the chance to do more than look at art.
"They can come along and see them [the artists] work, ask them questions," Ms Bugeja says.
Among those who have been popping in regularly is the artist's father, Michael, "just checking it out".
Lucas Grogan is expecting his six siblings and their families to come along to the exhibition, and he considers that "pretty exciting", as many of them haven't been to one of his shows before.
Read more: Breaking Bread profile of Lucas Grogan
The exhibition opens on Saturday and is on show until May 17. After that, Lucas Grogan's murals on the gallery walls will be painted over. Which is why he'd like to take his brushes into the streets.
"I'd love to do a permanent mural in Maitland," he says. "But it's just never come up."
As for that "long story short" of Lucas Grogan, the artist smiles and says, "Local boy makes good".
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