Leah Lawless-Smith is a native Texan who grew up in a small town in East Texas. In her childhood her family moved all over the southwest in search of a better job. She spent years living in California, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas. Each move left her more withdrawn and shy. She was most comfortable observing nature. In elementary Leah had her eyes tested discovering her nearsightedness. She got her first pair of glasses at age 10. With her world in focus, the possibilities and wonders struck her. She grew up with interest in visual arts with a handful of her family being moderately talented. In high school she flourished in art.
Leah majored in fine arts working her way through a bachelors and a masters degree. After college she worked at two companies creating art commercially for one year and then she went back to college to work on her teaching certificate. She has been teaching art in public schools and college level for over twenty years. She has spent the last ten years on her painting career developing a solid style in color, water flow acrylics, and developing techniques.
She works in a series of 20-25 paintings from portrait icons, automobiles, architectural details, and flowers. Her true subject is how color changes on these surfaces with light and shadow. Textures and patterns play with color and translucency. Color expresses emotion creating a sense of well being and joy for the viewer. Leah grew up in the 1980’s with intense colors in toys, clothing, music, and advertisement. These images impressed on her pscyhe helping lift her through a difficult childhood. The colors gave her light in the darkness. She employs this same feeling in her work.
Leah’s first art lesson was when she was twelve years old. She studied under a watercolorist painter. The use of transparency has stayed with her from the use of watercolor. She no longer uses this type of paint but loves the see thru quality. She uses acrylic paint for its quick drying qualities. She has progressed from using watered acrylic paint to achieve the translucency to liquid acrylics for their bold color creating depth.
Fauvism is an art style that started in 1905 and ended 1910. The Fauves were a French group known as Wild Beasts for their strong use of color and textures. Leah’s style is part of Favism and Modern Art. She responds to color in the same way as the Fauves. She has been influenced by the brushwork and use of color of Vincent Van Gogh. The Impressionist artists have always drawn her into their world by their use of color, movement, and captured moments.
The world that surrounds us inspires Leah. People she admires, artists that have inspired her are constant motivation to her painting work. She is always striving to sharpen her skills and work on an interesting composition. She is an avid gardener and traveler. She uses her experiences and captured moments of time in her work from travel and gardens as her imagery.
She is passionate about symbolism in art and architecture. She researches symbols and includes these in her work. Artwork is more interesting if peeled like an onion of meaning and content. She uses visual language to convey a greater thought. She used both her art talent and writing skills to create a book that explores local legend of the Ellis County Courthouse to a fanciful world of woven stories of the carved characters that Leah painted. The book takes you through each carved face story with facts and fiction. She incorporates researched symbols of architecture with intricate imagery of decoration on the building to give insight why they were placed on the structure. She is proud of the accomplishment of illustrating, writing, and publishing the book.
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