Thursday, August 20, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Anna Lisa Leal

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Anna Lisa's painting, "Butterfly's Treasure" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Anna Lisa's DPW Gallery Page: 

Starting at the age of 3, I could be found spending endless hours drawing in the shade of the backyard tangerine trees where we lived on the Texas/Mexico border. I continued to draw through my college years recreating images from magazines and doing portraits on request. I did not consider art as formal study. Eventually, I allowed my love of art to be put set aside for other more "practical" pursuits. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've been painting and creating since the age of 3. At that time, one could often find me painting under the shade of the tangerine trees where we lived on the Texas/Mexico border. Though the processes or frequency have changed over the years, one thing holds true, painting is pure bliss and happiness. Even on the days that are not "good" painting days, I'm still learning something. Most importantly, I'm honoring the gift I was given.

Butterfly's Treasure
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Anna Lisa's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I've painted off and on through the years, but definitely more off up until about 2011. During college, I drew portraits to make a little money. Though I didn't choose art as a formal study, I continued to paint periodically during my corporate career building years. In 2011, I reached a point in my corporate career and home life where I could more fully devote time to painting. When I say that my home life recently reached a point where I had space for painting, it's because I was closer to the finish of the design and installation of the gardens in our current home. My priorities in life are changing and I was suddenly looking for new avenues of creation. What I found over time is that I transferred my love of gardens and nature to the canvas.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

When I recently began painting in earnest, I started with watercolor. Following that, I went through an Acrylic phase. In April of 2014, I was introduced to soft pastels and quite literally, I haven't put them down since! I love the tactile nature of pastel painting. The immediacy of the medium and ease of set up and stopping is very alluring, especially when outside commitments call. I also have to admit I seriously enjoy the immediate gratification!

Though I initially returned to my college roots painting portraits, I later found a passion for transferring flora and fauna to the canvas and paper.  One may notice I deliberately use the word "flora". I'm very intrigued with cactus. Living in Texas, we have quite a few. I like the resilient nature of cactus and the seemingly endless varieties of agave particularly. I have quite a few in my own gardens. My favorite is "Mr Ripple".

Breakfast: Saguaro Side Up
(click to view)

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

I'm somewhat reticent to say that I'm so enamored with pastels that I've not picked up a brush to do an entire painting in almost 2 years. I am beginning to feel watercolors calling me again though.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Most recently, since I've been hearing the watercolors calling, I'm considering doing more pastels on watercolor paper vs sanded/textured papers. Or maybe, watercolor and homemade texture/ground. I'm also interested in layering print or printed image with pastels. I know...pastels pastels pastels...can't get enough of them!

Aloe at Sunset
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

I am always most inspired by the art of nature. I am drawn to pattern in vegetation and animals. Finding inspiration in a combination of the two is even better.  I fell in love with Georgia O'Keefe's work when I was very young. I never thought I would be one to paint "florals". I was quite surprised when painting flora became a passion.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I'm a really driven person (or perhaps it's really a nice way to say obsessive). Once I start doing something I'm passionate about, I do it wholeheartedly. Procrastination with my art usually follows a difficult painting session, or precedes an anticipated challenging session. It's kind of like I have to let go of the negative energy about the past or the future and live in the now. I'll clean, garden, exercise, visit family and friends and generally avoid the easel. I find sometimes this self imposed break is needed. Sometimes, it just looks like doing art related business work - paperwork, reading, studying. So it procrastination or mindfulness - - or self delusion that there is actually a difference in this case?

Days End Marathon
(click to view)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

My art time is sacred. I get very grumpy when I don't get to have time to devote to my artwork. I have to plan out my "other activities" to ensure that I can ideally get some uninterrupted weekend time. If that doesn't work, then it's evenings during the week. If I'm traveling on business, a sketch book and small pastel set go with me. I always have my tablet when I travel on business, so sometimes it's about scrolling through my images finding new ideas and jotting them down.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

For my flora paintings, I have a large cache of digital images from visits to various public gardens, parks, and from my own gardens. I also frequent the local retail botanical nurseries with my camera. I periodically scroll through these images and save off those I'm particularly interested in. I'll crop them at different places and/or pick out pieces of images to put together by composing in thumbnail sketches. I generally tend to work in a series - for example xeric/cactus, water gardens, or animals in these settings. What images are not interesting to me today, may be interesting in a few months, so I keep the lot.

Rusty Spurs
(click to view)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

It is most important to my art that I spend time outdoors. Since my primary focus is nature, being in nature keeps me stay in touch with my muse. I also think yoga is a big help to being able to access my creative mind. From a more business or traditional sense, I find it very important to stay engaged with my local art groups and take workshops to keep me percolating with ideas. Watching videos, trolling Pinterest, and reading art publications helps too.

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

As more opportunities come my way, it's about taking risk and overcoming my fears that I'm "not enough". I think we all sometimes feel we're "not enough", so if we all feel that way, then what do we have to lose?

What makes you happiest about your art? The simple act of creating a thing of beauty is the way I find gratitude and peace. If my work makes someone smile or brings them a bit of joy, I'm over the moon.

Thanks, Anna Lisa!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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