Friday, February 1, 2013

Harper Leich : The Artist Interview

I'm so thrilled to share my interview with North Carolina artist Harper Leich! Check out what she had to say and see her beautiful work.

What type of paintings do you most enjoy creating and why? (Portraits, abstract?)

I’m a portrait painter, through and through.  It’s kind of funny for an introvert to be so interested in people, but I think that’s an important way in which I relate to people.  When I do a portrait of a friend of mine (which nearly all of my portraits are), I feel like we’re spending time together.  I might forget to call them since it feels like we’ve been hanging out together every day.  

I like to convey the essence of my subject to the world at large.  It’s a big task, but one that seems worthwhile and necessary to attempt.  Nothing captures my interest the way that portraits do- so much can be said in the way the light hits a face, the reflections of color on the cheeks, the expressions in the eyes.  It’s my favorite kind of story telling- one that is left open to the view to interpret through their own filters and experiences.   

"Calliope's Crown" by Harper Leich

Do you have a studio or a designated space for your art? If so, what is it like?

My boyfriend and I live in a teeny three bedroom house.  I’m lucky enough to have an entire room to dedicate to my art making.  I have a dresser full of art supplies, two antique tables against a wall – one for computer work and writing, and one for drawing, painting, and sewing.  I have a bookshelf on top of the dresser that is stuffed with art books (Romaine Brooks, my beloved “Il Symbolismo” book I bought in Italy- too bad I can’t read about the Symbolist painters in it since it’s in Italian, Frida Kahlo, Lempika, Mucha, Klimt, how-to books, artist books I made in college) a stereo, a giant old philodendron plant, random family heirlooms, and old sketch books.  I have a teal wall covered in photographs of family- including some beautiful color slide prints of both my grandmothers from the 40s.  A small table that my grandmother decorated with paint and a crushed, dyed eggshell and varnished top is set up as my alter where I meditate.  

In front of one of the windows is my big wooden easel my father and step-mother gave to me a year ago.  There is always a painting in progress on it, and the wall behind it is either filled with paintings in progress or random bits of inspiration, including some hand-drawn and written cards from my god-daughter who aspires to be an artist.     
Harper's in-home studio

Do you create your art to sell?

I have in the past- mainly through the crafts that I have made like my hand bound journals and hand made fairies.  When I make a painting, I try to make what I want without thinking about some one buying it.  It’s surprisingly hard keep out of my mind, there is always a part of me that is wondering if anyone would buy it.  What keeps painting fun for me is the joy of following my own muse, not what is currently in style or what I know sells.  Hopefully sometimes what I want to paint and what people want to buy will come together!  Often it does!

Do you work with other mediums? 

I’m all over the place.  I consider oil painting to be my main medium.  I also do mural work in fast drying acrylic paint, I love to draw, sew, take photos, knit, embroider, quilt, crochet, book bind, and am about to learn tatting.  You name it I’ve tried it or added it to my to-do list.  I can’t paint all the time, I need to have a wide variety of creative outlets.  It keeps it from getting too stale for me.
"Cyber Shepherd" by Harper Leich

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on a project I am very excited about.  It is about the relationship between individuals and plants: the magic that comes from that connection and the wisdom the plants have to share with those who are willing to listen.  They are oil on panel and are based on photos I have taken of friends.  I am trying to keep it somewhat secret, I won’t be releasing any images of the paintings until the show is hung (I am looking for a venue!);it feels important for them to be fresh upon viewing. 

I also decided to take part in a project I saw on one of my favorite blogs: 52 portraits in one year, a portrait a week.  The original challenge was for photography but I have decided to apply it to drawing and painting.   It’s only a few weeks in, but it’s been a great challenge to keep working on fresh material instead of laboring over involved pieces like I usually do.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere.  Honestly!  I find it talking to people, in blogs, in nature, in plants, in my friends, in artists I admire, in the mysteries of the universe and the connections between us all, in books I read, and in the esoteric healing I have studied.  My current project came to me while meditating with a flower in one of my favorite nature spots.  There isn’t enough time in the day to follow all the threads of ideas that spark in my mind so I try to stay focused on one at a time. 

"Listening" by Harper Leich

What is your current obsession (absolutely anything)?

Learning to play the banjo.  It’s a slow process for me, but I practice nearly every day!  I can usually play “Boil the Cabbage Down” without messing up at least one time through!  My boyfriend Kurt sometimes joins me on accordion.  He is very patient.

Listening to: Andrew Bird’s most recent albums, “Hands of Glory” and “Break it Yourself “ equally, along with Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “Young Blood Blues” on our living room record player.

Paintings: Charles Courtney Curran

Plants: Foam flower and impatiens

You can 'like' Harper on Facebook  and follow her
Thanks again for sharing your amazing work with us Harper! Best of luck with your future endeavors!

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