Friday, January 18, 2008

Leighanna from Thingmaker is our interview today.
What is your art back ground (if you didn't answer this while telling us about yourself)

Let's see, I took an oil painting class with a creepy old guy for a year when I was a kid & to this day I still can't stand the smell of oil paint!
I attended college, four years of fine arts & photography, but I left 3 credits shy of getting my degree.
But, you know I really feel that the most significant education came from short workshops & one on one mentoring, along with simply making art everyday.
Some of my most memorable workshops were...
a week long photo workshop w/ Brett Weston in Hawaii before he died. (Well, obviously it was before he died, if it were after he died, it would have been REALLY memorable!)
a private paper-making workshop w/ Judy Hatfield that I took on & off for several years in the early 90's.
A short little bookbinding classes w/ Albie Smith in Medford Oregon. Meeting Albie changed my life, she's the one who first talked me into teaching, I wouldn't be teaching if it weren't for her...
Oh & Nina Bagley. It was the first class that I ever took at an art retreat, & I absolutely loved it. She was so sweet & real & I remember thinking that I could teach too if I didn't have to be perfect! I suppose that could be taken as an insult but it is meant as the highest compliment, I so appreciate people who are real.
And finally, a class that I took with Misty Mawn last year. I found out exactly what it must feel like to be on crack, I was so high & into what I was doing, I didn't think I could stop! At first I was talking to the people who shared my table, but at some point I stopped & forgot all about them! All I have to do is look at one of the FIVE pieces that I made in her class & memories of that wonderful day come flooding back.

Do you think that "art retreats" have a positive or negative affect on artists?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but definitely positive. I wouldn't be teaching there if I didn't believe that.
My very first art retreat was the most amazing experience of my life, so many like minded people in one place. Being surrounded by so much creative energy was absolutely life changing for me. Somehow, it gave me permission to be a "real" artist & I've been on this path ever since.

Tell us a little about yourself

Oh, you mean who am I? Well, that’s the big question that I'm determined to answer in 2008, I've got 353 days to go!
OK, first the facts (mamma), I was adopted, grew up in a small town in upstate New York, & lived in a plastic bubble for 12 years. (That's how I refer to being extremely overprotected.)
When I was around 12, I was raped. After that, the magic of hormones kicked in & all hell broke loose. I spent 3 years rebelling, & finally left home for good at the ripe old age of 15. I spent the next 3 years floundering around, & then finally went to college & settled down some, not much, but some! 3 credits shy of graduating; I went on a road trip with a group of photographers. We drove from NY to CA & lived in Yosemite national park for the summer.
In Yosemite I met a guy, almost married him & moved to Monterey. For the next 5 years, my life pretty much fell apart again... (I won't go into detail, but I will say that I could have been on Oprah!!!) Anyway, I ended up in Albuquerque after experiencing my first (and last) earthquake & I have been living here ever since, except for the 3 years that I lived in Medford Oregon.

But none of that is who I am, that's a list of my experiences. If I had to sum up my life experiences, I would say that it's been a wild wild ride, I've been through some incredible challenges, & sometimes I can't even believe that I'm still alive or sane!!!

Right after you asked this question, I received this email from my mom about my astrological sign....
AQUARIUS - The Sweetheart ~ (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
Optimistic (except when I'm being pessimistic!)
Sweet personality (used to be that...then I turned 40!!!!).
Very independent. Inventive and intelligent. Friendly and loyal. (OK, I'll accept that)
Can seem emotional...(boy is that an understatement!)
Can be a bit rebellious. Very stubborn, but original and unique. Eccentric personality. (yup!)

First & foremost, I am a recovering perfectionist...(that's why it's taken me a month to answer these questions, I didn't have time to do it perfectly, so I didn't do it at all!) Some months are better than others!
I've spent my entire life trying to find my voice. I complicate the hell out of everything & have the hardest time keeping anything simple (including my artwork). My number is three. My mission in life is to achieve balance & I'm attracted to small men with facial hair. Ewweeee, that sounds REALLY creepy, short men (not terribly short) w/ beards, is that better?
I am extremely independent & rebellious, & will probably never have a regular job or get married.
(Right now I am in LOVE with this boy, his name is Sam.)
There should be a picture of her dog Sam here, but for some reason I could not get it to paste here....I am so sorry.

Wow a rebel & a perfectionist?! That never occurred to me before, that's pretty scary!

What is the first thing that you created and why did you create it.

I don't have a clue; I vaguely remember working w/ clay in my neighbor’s basement.
It tasted like playdoh.

What most inspires you

Teaching inspires me & my students inspire me. Looking at art that love inspires me. Being at the ocean & out in nature. Cleaning my house. Listening to music. Taking a workshop.
Finding new things to work with, mostly found objects, but I also like finding new paint colors to try, & new toys to play with.
Making art & working in my journal inspires me. I work in my studio everyday no matter what. I wake up, get my coffee & go directly to my studio. Sometimes I'll only work for 15 minutes, but I have to do some art everyday or else I get extremely grumpy!

What are some other things that have influenced your work

I think that the found objects that I find while junking influence my work a great deal. It's like they have a plan of their own, when I see something, say a vintage book with an old worn cover, ideas start coming to me & I need to take it home.

What are you favorite materials

I'm really into golden paint right now. I've always loved gesso & amber shellac, & I like using modern options patina. Lately I've been playing around with gel medium & I love some of the results that I've been getting. Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons have also always been a favorite.
Do you do your art full time now, and if so, when did you decide to do this.
I'm almost full time, about 95 percent full time.
About a year & 1/2 ago, I decided that my goal was to teach & make art full time & I'm almost there. I've been a licensed LMT for the past 14 years & I still work on call a few times a month when I'm not teaching.

I see that you teach at several different art "retreats", do you enjoy the class room? Or do you enjoy art shows more.

I am most definitely more comfortable in the classroom. I absolutely love to turn people on to new things, I love to see the light bulbs go on, & to see people get so happy & excited about what they're making. It's not about me when I'm teaching, it's about art & creativity & being able to share that. And the possibility of being able to make a tiny difference in someone's life.
When I sell my work it's all about me, it's like being naked in a crowded room & I absolutely hate it. Selling my work has always been difficult for me. It's like I have to pretend to be someone I'm not, outgoing, talkative, & I always feel like I have to offer some deep meaning to explain what my art is about. I can't offer that. I make art because I have to. It comes from somewhere deep inside of me. I don't know what it means & I don't care. I just know that I have to do it.
My very first real show was the Santa Fe recycled show 7 years ago. It was a 3 day show & the very first night, I did extremely well, I sold a lot & people were really liking my work. And I freaked out. If my friend wasn't there, I would have run off & left all of my work there! I was totally prepared for rejection, I knew that I could handle that, but I wasn't at all prepared for a positive reaction to my work, I had no clue what to do with that! I felt as if I was under a microscope & all I wanted to do was run.
I still battle those feelings whenever I do a show, but now, It's like putting on this mask, I go in, set up, put on my mask & be the outgoing, friendly person that people expect me to be. That sounds awful, but that's how it is!!!!!

What are your feelings on students "copying" your work or style. I have seen that this is a "hot spot" for some artists.

I think it's absolutely fine to copy someone's work, as long as it moves you into your own style, towards your own voice. I think that's the goal, the destination of art & we need to do whatever it takes to get us there.
That said, I think it becomes a bit fuzzy when the student starts selling work that is identical to their instructors...
I've only had one personal experience with this. I taught a class & a friend who took the class exhibited her work, (which looked exactly like mine) in a show that we were both in. The owner of a gallery where I show came to the exhibit & immediately identified her work as mine. Anyway, it became very awkward & uncomfortable for all of us. I wasn't angry or upset about it, it was just a very awkward moment that I wish didn't happen.
Lately, I've seen people take classes, make something pretty much identical to the instructors work, then sell it either on line, or in one case, at the same event where the instructor was selling, for a fraction of the cost. so I guess I think it's fine to copy someone for your own artistic growth, but to sell it competitively & even undercut the instructor probable crosses some sort of line. On the other hand, that hasn't happened to me, so it's probably none of my damn business & I should just stay out of it!
I know a guy who goes around & photographs work that he likes. He goes home, copies it & then sells it. He doesn't see that he's copying it, he thinks that he's changing it, but to me it looks like exactly like the work that he's copied. It makes me feel sad for him & the original artist, but again, none of my business! (that's my new motto for 2008, "it's none of my business"!)
I also have a fear of doing that myself, I have such a terrible memory, I'm afraid that I'll see something in a magazine or somewhere, forget about it & then make it a year later & claim to have come up with the idea!

What is the name of your blog and what does it mean

The name of my blog is Thingmaker, it means...are you ready for this...that I make things!
It originally came from a Pippi Longstocking quote that I messed up...
"I don't know what you are going to do" said pippi "but I know I can't lie around & be lazy. I am a Thing-Finder & when you're a Thing-Finder you don't have a minute to spare. The whole world is full of things & somebody has to look for them."
Well, somehow that got messed up in my head & became "thingmaker" instead of "thingfinder". Actually, I was an avid thingfinder, but I've been trying to be more of a thing maker these days! My studio is just too small to support my thingfinder habits!
The deeper meaning is simply that I can't just stick with one medium, I paint, I get bored with it & I start itching to do assemblage. I do a bunch of assemblage pieces, I get bored & I start itching to work with clay. I needed a word that covered all that I do & I remembered that quote (or thought I did anyway!)
How long have you been blogging, what made you start and how has it affected you as an artist.
Wow, almost exactly a year.
I used to think that blogging was for people who were popular or famous, or at the very least, had something to say. I didn't think I qualified, but when my friend Raine showed me how easy it was to set up, (OK, set it up FOR me) I decided to use it as a journal of sorts & a place to post all of my pictures.
Since then, I've made so many amazing connections, both personal & professional. I've been invited to teach & show my work at places that I would never have even known about. And I've met the most amazing people from all over the world & made some wonderful friends along the way.
Most of all, it's made me look at my life & my world from an entirely different perspective. It's certainly made me take way more photographs & that in itself makes me look at my life in a different way. The ordinary has become precious & the precious becomes captured. Damn, I thought I was about to come up with a brilliant new quote, but it flopped!

What is your favorite music to listen to while you create

Tori Amos, The Decemberists & Elvis Costless are always at the top of my list.
I also like to listen to books on tape, & Air America radio, anything that takes me away so that I can get out of the way of what I'm working on.

Name three artists that you like and why

Three? That's almost impossible, but off of the top of my head...
Pat Chapman, for her amazing sense of composition & her sick, twisted sense of humor.
Maggie Taylor I love her ethereal, ghostly images. I WISH I could do that w/ Photoshop.
Scott Raddke, I just love his expressive, unique faces
Nicole McConville for the simplicity & frankness that is conveyed in her assemblages.
Melissa Zink's older work.
And I just love Stephanie Lee's Jewelry. And Nina Bagley's.
OK, that's more than 3, see answer # 1 about being a rebel! Hmm. There are so many more, how do I choose?

Do you have any big plans that we need to know about

Well, I have a very heavy teaching schedule this year, art & Soul Hampton & Portland, Art Unraveled, plus 4 or 5 smaller weekend workshops around the country.

No one will care about this except for me, but I'm going to Paris for the very first time this year! I've never even been out of the country (well, except for an afternoon in Juarez, but that's a whole other story!)

Project Eight... I invited 8 of the most amazing, wildly creative artists that I could think of to make one 8x8 piece of art each month for 8 months....AND THEY ALL SAID YES!!!!
Karen, from Indie arts will be here next week to film an interview with me in my studio. I'm absolutely terrified & I don't want to think about it anymore.
I'm teaching at Innerstandings in Portland Oregon & after my class, I'm going to see Cirque de Soleil for the very first time. (that & Paris are both on my bid...before I die... list!)
After that, I’m going back down to Medford to play w/ Albie & to teach at her studio. It's going to be a wonderful trip & I can't wait!
And that's just what I have planed, who knows what the universe has planned for me in 2008. I can't wait to find out!

Leighanna, Thank you so much for your time. It was great to get to know you.

1 comment:

HappyDayArt! said...

Loved it! That was fun. I could hear her voice in my head. THANKS!