Day 285: Leah Kiser

As the daughter of a veterinarian, and former kennel care taker, I gained an early appreciation for the personality of animals.  Like them, I was not great with words, and I liked the idea that we could communicate and get to know one another well, possibly even better, without them.  This might be why animals tend do be at the center of my work.

Also early in life, I found life drawing.  It was another way to get to know the world without words. I still enjoy the challenge of observing the lines, colors, and values that give objects character.  Drawing them accurately requires me to let go of all my preconceived notions about them.  To do them justice, I must relinquish control.  I get lost in the form while I draw and paint, then step back to look, and realize that I am not lost at all – I am on the right track, I am truly recording what I see before me.  This is why I draw and paint – because I find it to be a wonderful way to connect with truth.

So, it may seem strange that the subjects of my paintings are fictional.  The reason for that is a bit of a story.  A few years ago, I illustrated a children’s book that my brother wrote.  It was a fun and challenging exercise to combine my drawing experience with imagined ideas.  I really enjoyed the process, and when I finished the book, I decided to keep going. I also wanted to try oil painting and make artwork in a larger scale.  At the time, my daughter was playing with dinosaur toys and put a barbie tutu on one of them.  The idea made me laugh, and the dinosaur and tutu were visually compelling to me, so I decided to use that as a starting place.  I painted a whole series of dinosaurs in dresses, and I still paint them from time to time.  I’ve since moved onto octopi and will keep changing subjects as I go.  I use toys, photographs and actual objects as models, and I’m getting better and better at bringing them all together in a believable way.  Although, I’m not trying to trick people into believing that they are real – it is obvious that they are not.  The result I’m going for is more of a deadpan comedy – there is seriousness in the way that I paint, but there is humor in what is actually depicted in the painting.  It is a combination that I really enjoy.  I hope that others enjoy it too.

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