By Cheyanne Mandeville
I first saw Leigh-Erin’s art at Joplin Avenue Coffee and was fascinated by her fairy-like subjects and her ability to express emotion through their facial expressions. I wanted to know more about her work and inspiration and was lucky enough to get an interview.
Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and go to school?
I was born in Vermont but spent the majority of my life In the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I knew as soon as I was done with high school I would be out of Texas, so after living in Austin for a year, I moved to the mountains of New Mexico with my now husband and three step kids. From there we moved to Arkansas, had another baby, and settled in our country home in Missouri. Right now I work full time as a laboratory specialist at an animal hospital in Bentonville.
How did you get into art? Has it been a lifetime passion?
Art and creativity was always encouraged for me from a young age, mainly from my dad who by the time I was born had traveled the entire U.S. and more taking inspiring photos for local papers and art exhibits. I was fortunate enough to benefit from my dad’s professional critiques of my work along the way, (even when I was drawing little fairies at age 12) and later on as well from my husband who is also a professional photographer. There was never really a moment when I considered myself an artist; art and photography was just something I had always been exposed to, so it felt very natural to me to express myself in that way.
What type of medium do you use?
I like to keep it simple; I mainly use pencil and watercolor but I also enjoy using acrylic, charcoal and ink from time to time.
What does being creative mean to you?
Being creative, to me, is being able to express (in any medium) an emotional or spiritual response to my surroundings. I feel it’s important to evoke an emotional response rather than just focus on aesthetics. Sometimes I get caught up more on what I assume the viewer wants to see and forget that people really do want to “feel something” more than just view a pretty picture.
What or who are your inspirations?
Most of my pieces are inspired by nature and innocence. To see my daughter play in the dirt and watch the wild life, learning and experiencing nature’s life cycle is really inspiring to me, and I try to portray that innocence, but also the wisdom that comes from spending time in nature, without all of life’s distractions.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
My only goal in creating my pieces is that the viewer have an emotional response of their own. I’ve never really tried to communicate a message as much as just try to convey a feeling I’m experiencing and hope that the viewer can get something out of the end result.
Check out more of Leigh-Erin’s art at leigherinart.facebook.com or her website LEillustration.weebly.com. Commissions and prints are always available!