Posted in artists, FYI, Interview, Limelight, Uncategorized

In The Limelight: Cat Leonard

Cat Leonard artist quote colors

I’ve been a fan of Cat Leonard and her work since 2015 when she illustrated a work of mine for SciPhi Journal. I fell in love with her bold style, which is so reminiscent of the Aussie Outback for me. More so, I adore her animal portraits, too, with their unusual perspectives. I must admit her portraits of people often leave me feeling conflicted. I feel she captures something beyond their mere image, beyond what most people might see—an emotion or attitude they may not admit to when first meeting you!
Though Cat agreed to an interview some time ago, it’s taken this long for us to make this happen. Life and interesting things have been coming along! I’m glad Cat managed to make some time for my questions before her next commission and workshop. Here’s how it went.

Book cover SciPhi Journal Issue 5 artist Cat Leonard

I love your cyan and orange/yellow signature paintings. How did you get into that combination?
Hmmmm…what would those colours be in my pallet? Cobalt turquoise, Cadmium orange light, Nickel yellow, Australian salmon gum…
I tend to think about colour in terms of what they are next to, because colours look their best when you can see other colours at the same time. Like pink is my favourite colour but only when I can see yellow at the same time, and because certain colours work next to specific other colours I tend to group them like that in my paintings. So, when I get out pink I also get out yellow, which is why I regularly choose my “signature” colour combinations.

Quote Cat Leonard artist painting animals
Cat Leonard Sovereign Fowl catleonardart.com
Sovereign Fowl

Your pet and animal portraits are magnificent. Do you prefer them to your portraits of people? If so, why?
Animals are quicker to paint than people, and I can really let loose with paint, colour and wild marks when painting fur, feathers and, say…the wrinkled skin of a chicken’s head. Also, I enjoy painting old people with wrinkles and age spots, and can tackle them in a similar way, but young smooth skin, especially children and babies, and candid poses at a distance where I don’t see marks, wrinkles or spots in the skin, such as full figurative work, for me is more challenging. But I’ve been learning oils and glazing so that’s slowly changing as I play with that medium.

Llama by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com

So, I’ve often wondered, just how long does it take you to paint the animal portraits? Do you now have a kind of system for getting them done to a deadline?
If I’ve got a deadline I can paint them quicker. I once had a deadline of a day, so I told myself I could do it and painted a glorious pig overnight. I didn’t think about it and I just painted; knew the formulae from a previous painting and used that.
I can re-paint my paintings a lot quicker than new ones and some commissions ask for those.

Horse and rooster art by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com

You’ve had an unusual series a few years ago which featured animals juxtaposed with text—old books and newspapers, I think it was. Do you enjoy mixing media and the seeming incongruous, or was that an experimental phase?
I love mixed media and I do work this way still today. Often the back of my work has interesting pages torn out of books stuck on them with the title of the work painted next to or on them (a little surprise for the buyer). But that body of work was inspired by a photographer/poet, and I worked with them on several projects over several years.


Quote Cat Leonard book cover creation

Tell us a little about your book and story illustrations. Do you still work on them?
Mainly I do covers, and at the moment I illustrate the covers for Francis Porretto. I’m commissioned to do my 6th cover for him. He sends me chapters to read and from those I conceive a visual.

Book cover The Wise And The Mad by Francis W Porretto artist Cat Leonard catleonardart.com

It’s quite a responsibility creating a book cover because it gives the first impressions of the book, so you’ve gotta say something about the story, make it intriguing but not give anything important away and not create a visual that will direct the imagination away from what’s described in the story—like you don’t want to present a character from the story that doesn’t do that character justice.

St Michael by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com
St Micheal

You’ve also shared some religious icon-inspired pieces. Is that a path you’d like to explore further?
Yes, religious art does interest me, especially Christian liturgical art. Being Catholic myself, having grown up in a large catholic family, I feel that I haven’t quite found my feet in this genre yet, but I’ve certainly dabbled and painted St Michael by request three times, and Monsignor Ian Dempsey and Philip Wilson when he was archbishop of Adelaide, the passion of Christ and the resurrection and the Mother of God three times, and some other stuff. The most recent St Michael was an interesting experience where I kind of re-interpreted Guido Reni’s famous painting St Michael Defeats Satan, and I used a familiar process I often use where I take a messed up canvas and then draw him out through the mess as I pull together the marks—like bringing him forward through the mess of postmodernism. It was most enjoyable.

Oil painting by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com
Oil painting

The South Australian Fine Arts scene seems quite healthy, and I reckon you get commissions from all across the country. So, are you working on expanding your presence abroad, too, by working with international commissions?
I do get commissions from all over the place, but most are from Adelaide.
It’s a standard question I ask these days with commissions: “Are you from Adelaide?” Because I’ve gotta consider the options for painting things that are suitable to post or the shipping fees are ridiculously expensive, so I would prefer to send a small work or one I can take off the frame and roll up and it gets re-framed at their end.

As for the future, any predictions on what we can expect from Cat Leonard, Fine Artist
and experimenter?
Well, I’m learning how to properly teach others the craft—I do already give painting workshops, but now I’ve joined a small team of art tutors at Splashout Studios and am being taught how to teach by an expert, so that’s quite a learning curve for me, extremely confronting and challenging but so very enjoyable as I see the fruits of my efforts unfold…

Montage of art by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com
Works of Cat Leonard

About Cat Leonard

Cat Leonard artist selfie

I am an artist, painter of portraits, contester of postmodernism and proverbial blunderer. I declare through my craft that perfection is the perfect amount of imperfection, that there are moments of organic messiness in beauty when it is arranged correctly, and that is what I strive to achieve in my paintings, an ordered chaos.
Since 2010, I’ve been building up my art business. Painting commissioned paintings, Illustrating covers for books by various authors, exhibiting in galleries, selling products on-line and teaching workshops and tutorials in schools. I also mentor for Year 11 and 12 students who are interested in pursuing the fine arts as a career.

Find Cat online
website: catleonardart.com
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Posted in artists, Interview, Limelight, quotes, Uncategorized

Limelight Interview: Jessica Matteliano

Jessica Matteliano quote texture

I’ve known Jessica Matteliano as a writer for a while now. I was also excited to discover her work as an aist. If you have a fascination for portraiture, both animal and human, you’ll definitely want to have a look at Jessica’s lively work.
And here we have Jessica Matteliano In The Limelight!

In the Limelight Jessica Matteliano artist

You have a great eye for expression and portraiture. How did you discover this ability?
Thank you! I believe that art, no matter what medium, is a means of expression. It could be an internal feeling that must be transposed onto paper, or an external force to communicate a message. The face, especially the eyes, is what humans are initially drawn to look at. Because whether you consider it a euphemism or truth, the eyes are the windows to the soul. I began drawing as a young child, and my first subjects were strictly animals, mainly horses. Even from then, I desired to capture the soul inside the eyes. In the eyes is where a portrait comes alive. Until the eyes have the effect I’m looking for, the painting will not be complete.

20090906_rita matteliano
Debonnaire – I typically paint portraits, but this pose of Rita Hayworth caught my eye and I had to capture her graceful beauty.

I adore your noirish Classic Hollywood Portraits. Tell us about them.
In an age where everything is sensual and risqué, I am drawn to the classic Hollywood portraits that showcased a more modest and classy beauty. A number of years back, I decided to begin a series of these talented and classic faces due to the fact that much of my generation, and younger ones, aren’t aware of these names or faces; by painting them, while bringing color to their timeless eyes, I would hope to bring them the attention that they still deserve, to bring admirers back to another time of nostalgia and enigmatic sophistication.

And the pet portraits? Tell us about those too.
During my early years until around the age of 17, I refused to paint humans. My few attempts at painting them back then were never up to my par, so I “boycotted” the human figure altogether from my sketchbooks and portfolios. My main focus during those early years were mainly horses and wild animals. With the help of friends and family, I began receiving commissions for dog portraits, mostly in the pastel and pencil medium. It’s a hard niche to get into as there are so many talented pet portrait artists out there in all mediums. All my commissioned work is strictly by word of mouth, and it’s a subject I still very much enjoy.

I’m amazed by your animal illustrations. They are so vibrant and full of energy…The chameleon’s eyes, and there’s all the wonderful horses too! How long does a work like the chameleon or a single horse take you?
As mentioned before, horses were my main art subject from young. A horse piece requires much less time to complete than an unusual subject like the chameleon, or a bird, etc. It’s all about texture. The more detailed (furry, feathery, or scaly) the texture, the longer it will take me.

20100523_basilisk Matteliano
Basilisk Lizard – One of my favorites! I was doing a study on lizards, and their eyes intrigued me. I was hoping to discover a shortcut method for painting scales, but I have yet to find one!

I have a tendency to underestimate the length of time it will take to complete a drawing. Without the background, a full-body horse in motion (colored) will take me around 5-8 hours. Something more detailed, such as a reptile or bird, can take twice as long, if not more. Due to external circumstances, it usually takes me a few nights to complete a painting.

I was fortunate to come across your tutorial on creating portraits in Photoshop and picked up a few tips myself. Will you be doing more tutorials or running a workshop in the future, perhaps?
I’m glad they were helpful! I enjoyed creating those tutorials as I love helping others improve and learn. Part of the fun of looking at other people’s artwork is discovering their tips and tricks and adapting them to your own style. I haven’t created a tutorial as of late, only because I feel that there is already so much out there, how could I possibly offer something “new?” I’m afraid I don’t have the time or means to run a workshop at the moment, but if someone requested a tutorial from me in the future, I would most certainly oblige!

Jessica Matteliano quote part of fun

You draw inspiration from a wide range of cultures (for example there’s a rune prominent on one Asian-looking character’s hair accessory) and from the natural world too. I know you’re a fan of Pinterest. Can you tell us a little about your creative process/es?
Much of my inspiration comes from other images, whether it be a photograph or a painting – hence, the ever-growing number of pins on my Pinterest account! Every image has a mood, and oftentimes that mood will connect with what I’m currently feeling. My fantasy portraits tend to reflect a theme, such as the Ihwaz painting. I wanted to portray a symbol of what I was feeling at the time (“The path is hard and lonely and there is no end to sight”). I recall being inspired by headdresses and wanting to create a portrait with a headdress. Ihwaz is Rune number 13 and symbolizes the yew tree (Yggdrasil), as well as symbolizing magic and the archer’s bow.

Anyway, when a certain image strikes me, I will take it and transform it into my own vision. Oftentimes, it’s nothing more than wanting to accentuate the movement and grace of a horse mid-stride, to bring out the way the sun makes the dappling shine along its musculature. My writing follows a similar method where I am inspired by another work of art and my mind uses it as a launching pad to create my own version.

I knew you first as a writer. Do you find your art feeding your writing and vice versa?
Not necessarily. As a full-time wife and mother, part-time worker, and full-time freelancer, it’s hard to be able to let my creativity flow the way I’d like it to. I have to compartmentalize much of my art and writing projects in order to be productive. I hate to sound like a clichéd artist, but creativity needs time to grow and bloom. That being the case, my writing and artwork are separate entities, though I’m hoping that one day I will be able to merge the two together!

So here’s what I’m finding difficult: finding a balance between designing and writing, and expressing my creativity vs working on projects which might actually pay! Any advice for me and others like me?
Prioritize! My family comes first, paying jobs come second, and personal projects third. With my busy schedule, nearly all of my personal endeavors are stuck in the wayside. Figure out what is most important to you, which leads me to my second point: organization is imperative! When an idea does strike me, whether it’s writing or art-related, I jot them down in an idea journal (bullet journal, in my case). Inspiration to paint a particular drawing come and go, but writing tends to be more mechanical for me. I enjoy figuring out the details, so writing down new ideas works best for me.

I spend the daytime hours working or taking care of my home (cooking, cleaning, schooling, errands, etc.), and after dinner, I begin working on my freelance projects. If I’m ahead of schedule, I’ll instead spend time on my personal writing projects. I do mandate myself at least one night off during the week for my personal projects because stress does build up after 5-6 consecutive nights of staring at the computer screen!

Jessica Matteliano quote compartmentalise productive

You’ve worked on a wide range of projects: gaming, calendars, commissioned private portraiture…and there’s the writing projects too. What new venture are you excited about for the future?
I’m currently working on two paid art projects, as well as a commissioned pencil sketch. And right, not to mention my personal two writing projects that are subject to the regular work load! I’ve just completed one novella and am currently in the editing process, and I’m excited to begin research for the second novella! I’m anticipating writing content for the game art project I’m currently working on.

20120115_danaway_wp Matteliano
Danaway Flashjack – My favorite horse painting. Dappling and texture really make a painting come alive, and the golds and lavender hues in this horse are stunning.

Thank you so much for interviewing me! It was such a pleasure and I am truly honored to be a part of your wonderful blog!

And thank you, Jessica, for taking the time from your crazy schedule to answer these questions and share your work with us.

About Jessica Matteliano:

Jessica Matteliano (2)I’ve been sketching since single digits and began digital painting in my late teen years. Around the age of eleven, I began focusing on detail and accuracy and discovered that art was something worth pursuing. Pencil sketches and digital paintings are the preferred medium, and wildlife and portraits are my preferred subjects.
Writing fiction vies for my attention. If I’m not painting, I am writing (or reading!). I began writing in my single digits as well, and my life since my teen years are filled with writing and art projects.
Now at age 30, with a family of my own and life responsibilities, my free time is spent alternating between writing and painting.

Contact Jessica and find more of her work:
Art Gallery            Pinterest             Instagram
Writing Blog
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