Local artist Leah Doeland was inspired to create from an early age. Her talent and dedication to her craft has ensured she’s achieved a finalist ranking in several art competitions in recent times; plus, she’s also shown work in her first international exhibition. You can view Leah’s work at Masterpiece Framing and Gallery this month …
Hi Leah. Tell us a bit about your background …
Back in the late ‘90s, when I had almost completed Year 9, my family was moved from Tamworth to Port Macquarie because of my father’s employment. I completed my schooling at Port High, then left to pursue a career in hairdressing.
The team at Vanessa’s Hair Fashion were high energy, great with hair. I was delighted to join a salon that competed so successfully in hair shows/hair competitions. During my four year apprenticeship, I won the title of Mid North Apprentice of the Year three times, along with some other trophies. My husband, Matthew, and I married in March of 2002; now we have three beautiful school aged children and are all very settled in our scenic costal lives.
Where did your art journey begin?
Some of my earliest memories consist of drawing, painting, making and creating. My parents recognised and encouraged my love of art; most of my birthday and Christmas presents as a child contained art or craft supplies, and they often turned a blind eye to the open paint tubes and drop sheet that covered my bedroom floor (or possibly I was rather good at hiding all my artistic messes behind my bed upon the floor).
I entered my first art competition when I was in high school, in Tamworth, coming runner up in an open division. I won a small amount of money, which covered my entry fees and the cost to have my works framed. I thought that was wonderful and continued to enter local competitions from then on.
Over the past year you’ve entered a few art competitions. Why did you decide to do this?
In mid-2015, I committed to pursue a daily practice of artistic expression, embarking on a 365 day challenge.The brief I set was simply to do something creative every day and post a picture of it on Instagram (@leahdoeland). I really found my own style during this time.
My collection of original works was growing, and I decided to take the plunge back into art competitions, curious if my unique style would capture the eye or imagination of those outside of my “Family-and-Friends” fan club.
You made the finals of The ColourTrap Galleries, 30 x 30 art prize this year. What was involved with this competition?
The brief of this competition was to submit an artwork reflecting “your colourful life”. The completed artwork was to measure 30 cm x 30 cm. My piece was inspired by our Sea Acres Rainforest, the varying yet vivid colours, the shapes and textures of the foliage, the feeling of being immersed in nature.
I was to submit an image of my artwork with the completed entry form, along with my artist statement explaining the meaning of my work and the thought process behind it. The finalists were notified and the artwork was to be delivered to the Avalon Beach gallery for the show and final round of judging. The exhibition ran from 13 – 29 of October last year.
You were also a finalist in the Contemporary Art Awards of Australia. This is predominately an online competition, so what challenges did you face with this format?
The first round of judging required me to upload images of my work, along with a short artist statement. The finalists were selected, contacted and asked to send high resolution images of their art for the final round of judging. There was no need for my original artworks to leave my home, unlike the ColourTrap competition, where the artwork needed to be delivered and then picked up again on completion of the show. So really, the challenges have been minimal! I’d love to encourage other artists to consider entering this competition.
For the first time, some of your work has recently been displayed in an international gallery. How did this come about?
Social media has connected me to so many wonderful people, including a collection of international galleries. My first international exhibition will take place in Berlin, where six of my original paintings will be on display as part of an exhibition introducing emerging artists. All (six) of the pieces will be for sale, along with a small selection of my gift card range. This is an exciting opportunity, and the process has been full of lessons such as dealing with courier services, packaging art correctly, obtaining the necessary paperwork in order to clear customs. Actually, as I speak, my artwork is still in customs in Berlin!
What exhibitions do you have in coming months?
For the months of March and April, I am showing a collection of originals at Masterpiece Framing and Gallery, 2/91 Hasting River Drive.
I’m currently working on a new series of paintings inspired by the Shelly Beach/Harry’s Lookout walk. This series will be on public display at Sunset Gallery, 11 Murray Street, during early June.
There are also a few local competitions coming up soon, which I plan on taking part in.
What/who is your single greatest inspiration as an artist?
My art is one of many ways in which I worship God. I am a passionate follower of Jesus, and I believe that my artistic abilities are a gift from Him. My art studio is a peaceful place, and from it, I look out onto my garden. The air is usually filled with Christian music, sometimes I stream an encouraging sermon, and at times I listen to readings from the Bible. Much of my inspiration is drawn from what I am listening to and from the beauty of creation around me.
I love colour and nature; I love to look at the natural world around me and break it down into shape, texture and colour. My art is more about capturing an emotion than trying to create a photo likeness of my subject. I love for the onlooker to “feel” the painting, not literally, but emotionally – to be connected, to be moved, to be changed and to feel peace.
Where can we find out more?
Check out my webpage at www.leahdoelandcreative.com
Arthouse Industries, 1/1 Murray Street, is stocking my beautiful gift card range. Instagram lovers can follow my daily posts on @leahdoeland
And for the Facebook fans @Leah Doeland Creative.
Interview by Jo Robinson.