LEAH SMITHSON’S Interview | Art As A Fresh Perspective: TALON AND THE SUNEATERS
I create art that’s like a mirror reflecting beauty, emotion, and possibilities of life with contemporary pop surrealism.
Sometimes I feel like an artist, when enlightened, I let myself with the flow, receiving impulses of clarity and confidence transporting me to a different dimension. I believe that artists in the process of creation experience their own dream reality, a broader point of view that manifests through their artwork.
Leah Smithson is a new age painter and mixed media artist who has already made her fingerprint in the industry. Often her style is described as dreamlike and thematic, and her high-flying tune of creating art is very inspiring to me.
- Who is Leah Smithson? Please introduce yourself.
I create art that’s like a mirror reflecting beauty, emotion, and possibilities of life with contemporary pop surrealism. I’m a sculptor, painter and jewelry designer who’s transfixed into color, style and creativity.
- How did you decide to become an artist?
I have a vivid memory of watching the classic movie ‘My Fair Lady’ with Audrey Hepburn when I was eight. After seeing their artful costume designs, I knew that I wanted to go into the art field. The power of taking something out of your imagination and bringing it into reality to inspire others is very attractive to me.
- What inspires your art practice?
I love the challenge. I feel like Alice in wonderland chasing the rabbit down the rabbit hole of my imagination, and my art pieces are the relics from those experiences; portraits of those I’ve met on those transcendental excursions. My art turns into a gateway where I get to return to these places and bring others with me. Many of the characters I create are an amalgamation of personalities from people I’ve met in life.
- What is your process of creation like, from inception to manifestation?
It depends. Sometimes it starts as a sketch or a story. Or mornings walking thru the woods, certain characters appear to me and later they make it into my paintings. Usually, I have a general idea that isn’t finalized until I render & rework the piece. Often times that means I won’t really know what it will look like until it’s finished. A character may disappear or reappear as something else. Each piece has a life and personality of its own.
- What is the story that your fine art conveys? What is its connection to your personal life?
A couple of years ago I did a year long project that followed a species who because of a mysterious event were forgotten by mankind, even though they were native to the earth. I made an art piece every day revealing pieces of their story as a campaign to let people know about them. From then on, a few of those characters found their way into my current portraits. I find the characters resonate with me and others because many of them experience events they could not control. And their stories explore how to press on when you feel powerless. Also to remember when you have those feelings, you’re not as powerless as you think you are. Storytelling and art can take us outside our situation to another realm where we’re able to see reality from a fresh perspective.
- Tell us about Talon and the Suneaters. What is this project about?
Talon and the Suneaters is the name of a line of contemporary jewelry that originated from paintings I’ve created. Now I’ve taken many of these paintings and created miniature sculptures made from porcelain, gold and other precious metals that you can wear every day. Blurring the lines of reality is fun, and that really inspires this project.
- What is, in your opinion and experience, the relationship between art and design?
They’re like fraternal twins to me. I’ve heard many give the opinion that there are major differences, such as: “Art can be impractical, but design should always make people’s life easier.” I feel, though, that they are very connected. Art is the seed of innovation. It’s like the science project that explores possibilities; sometimes just for the sake of exploring. Then something amazing is produced from that experimentation that may be used in design.
- What materials and techniques do you use for your art pieces?
I use a lot of mixed medium, but lately, I’ve been focusing on acrylic, wood and porcelain. Working with porcelain is so intriguing because you can manipulate the way light travels through each piece.
- Your fine art collections are unique and sophisticated. How would you describe the individual who wears those pieces?
The individual who believes getting dressed is an art. Who has their own sense of style. That individual is a person that doesn’t need a trend to tell them what they like. They know what they like because they know who they are. A person with a style that transcends time, because it’s classic and uniquely them. In fact, they are the ones others follow.
- What values does Talon and the Suneaters stand for?
Our environment can inspire us to be more creative, more understanding, and more productive people. I believe that can start with what you put on your body and the art you surround yourself with. It’s important that we make art that, in effect, helps to make us more in touch with ourselves, our emotions and creativity. To enjoy being human.
- What is your opinion on art today and how it evolves into the future?
Good art in any time period is like a time capsule of what was happening at that time and how people felt. It also can introduce ideas that are new – changing our idea of beauty and order. I think art now is doing the same thing.
- You are young, talented and successful. Congratulations. What’s the secret? Could you describe what success means to you?
Wow, thank you. It may sound simple, but I think the “secret” is to not give up. Realizing that there are going to be a thousand “no’s” and many, many doors shut. We have to get through that before we find our “yes”. And if a door shuts, try the window or the back door. If that doesn’t work, find another door. Hard work and perseverance are undeniable. Along with that, it’s always good to work on humility. It’s important to be able to take constructive criticism and being willing to change when things need to improve. Deceiving ourselves by thinking things are better than what they are and being unwilling to change will hinder us from getting to where we would like to go.
- What is the spiritual dimension, if that way of putting it resonates with you, of your work?
There are not many things as breathtaking as an ocean view or a landscape of mountaintops that fade away into the distance. And that’s something that resonates with the majority of people on this earth and throughout history. For my work to be as strong as it needs to be, I think it’s important to take lessons from the trees, the mountains, the sky, the birds, the insects, things living and dying. When it comes to problem-solving in composition, color and subject matter, the answer is there.
- Your art is beautiful. Do you believe you can be, do and have anything you want ?
Ha ha ha, Great question. Depends on one’s perspective I suppose. I would love to fly, but I know if I jump off a cliff – regardless of my desires – the end result would be fatal without some sort of mechanical help. I also want world peace, but I know that what I have true control over is that I can be peaceable with those around me. I have control over my portion of the world and the ability to set a positive example which can have a major impact on others.
- How do you balance your professional and personal lives?
They are interwoven, I have to say. I feel like it’s important to cultivate meaningful relationships with others and to connect with people because they are the inspiration for what I do.
- What is your deepest desire right now? How do you see yourself in 10 years?
My deepest desire is to make art strong enough to draw people’s minds in and to hold them hostage for awhile. After they experience that, I want them to be able to look at life differently. Better. Our life is not just about basic needs. I want to create experiences that can reflect the richness of life; the heart and soul of living. Be a reminder of the wonderful parts of life and the wealth of experience we can have learning from people different than us. In ten years, I would like to execute art exhibits in museums on a grand scale that do that. It would be a privilege to have Talon and the Suneaters around the necks of thousands; the pieces adored as heirlooms to be passed onto their children, inspiring new generations to love life.
- What can you share with us that could inspire others?
In art school, there was a teacher that took one look at me & decided I couldn’t draw. For whatever reason in her mind, she thought this to herself and decided to tell me this out loud and to my face, before even seeing my work. There are going to be people who will think and say many things to discourage you. But just because they feel that way doesn’t make it true. And even if, after an honest evaluation of yourself, it may be true now, it doesn’t mean it has to be true forever.