Leanne Wright – It’s a Wonderful Feeling
“I paint in my kitchen.”
There are paint splashes on the cupboards and drawers, the microwave. The fridge is a gallery. Ava’s high chair is a temporary easel.
But it’s very ordered. Everything has its place and the bulk of the kitchen is tidy and functional.
Leanne has followed a much-worn path to becoming an artist. High school art classes; directionless teen years never imagining “artist” was a valid career; various vocations – cooking, hairdressing, interior design, seamstress (all creative pursuits) – and motherhood, the pinnacle of creativity.
The painting bug returned when playing with one year old daughter, Ava, a year or so ago. It had been cocooned for a decade or more, and with her life more in control – home, husband, children – the cocoon broke open and an amazing new life emerged.
Leanne’s art has created a focus. “I’m not just a mum and a wife. There are people now who know me as me, not as Sid’s wife.”
“I was always a follower. But I want to be my own frickin person. I want people to look at my art and be amazed. It’s unique to me, no one bloody else. It’s not just painting, it’s creating, anything, building stuff. Like the phone box doors. I just stood back and thought ‘I did that.’ It’s a wonderful feeling.”
She tried painting what she thought others wanted. But it never sold. “So I thought I’d just do what I think looks pretty. And people loved it.” The money’s good, of course, “but I want to do this because I love it.”
“Artists look at the world differently. I see bright colours everywhere. I see pretty things in the mundane.”
“My childhood was always bright and happy. I don’t remember the cloudy times, just the happy. Walking down the lane with my sisters and my mum.”
Of course, there were cloudy times and then some pretty crazy teenage years. “But mum was always there to protect me, when I let her.”
The Girl in the Rain reflects that. “Mum is like the umbrella, trying to protect me.”
What of the perception that a lot of art comes from a dark place?
“People say you’ve got to be depressed to be an artist, and I’m like, well, no you bloody don’t!”
“Of course, I have anxieties and frustrations – what people think of me, my self-image, not feeling good enough – everybody does. But for me art doesn’t come from that place. At this point in my life I’m happy. The bright splashes of colour, that’s my kids, and my husband. The bright spots in my life.”
“Wanting to hold on to my youth and party can sometimes distract me, but being married and having children has calmed me a lot. Sid reined me in and calmed me down.”
Rach, from Selwyn Creative Network has helped a lot, too. And Gordon Harris (art supplies) has become a favourite hangout. “It’s nice being out there, not in the background.”
“If you catch me in the morning, in my trackies, painting, you’ll most likely also catch me chewing on a cucumber! I’m addicted to cucumbers. And now my children are eating them, too!”
“Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed and I just want to sit outside and drink coffee.”
“I just want to feel like a real artist.”