Spotlight on the Artist: LeeAnn Sanders

My earliest memory of making art is at the age of 6 in Alabama and one of the moms put on a summer program in her basement for all of the kids in the neighborhood to create art projects of all kinds. At the end of the summer, she arranged for us to have an art show at the mall. I got my picture in the local newspaper!

We created paintings, paper mache sculptures, sand art, clay creations.

After grade school, I didn’t do any kind of art at all until I started scrapbooking in 2007. I had lots of pictures to catalogue but I didn’t want to just stick them in albums. I walked into “R Scrapbook Store” and it literally changed my life. My creative side had been dormant for so long and it awoke with a vengeance. When we got back from Greece in 2012, I decided I wanted to paint a copy of one of my photos and I used acrylics. I didn’t start using watercolors until last year. I also have been making and selling jewelry since 2014.

I create art because it makes me happy! It helped me so much when I was going through a very difficult time in my life about 5 years ago, when I became an empty nester, my mother started her journey with Alzheimer’s and other issues. It kept me sane. When I discovered that others liked my art and they enjoyed looking at it or wearing it, that brought me joy. I am someone who always loves a “project” and art does that for me also.

My most important tool is my art journal. It is how I developed my “style”. I love to try all different kinds of mediums and methods. When I started to make art, I did EVERYTHING but I didn’t seem to have a purpose. I just worked everyday in my art journal and things began to develop and move toward a more cohesive body of work. I got into my “groove.”

Paper and collage is one of my favorite elements. I will get an idea in my head for something, and I like looking for the perfect piece of paper with a picture or phrase that I can incorporate into my painting. I might paint over it so that it’s not actually visible, but I know it is there and it has meaning for me. I also like the texture that paper adds to a piece. Sometimes I can just find the perfect sentence or line from a poem that just brings it all together. It usually will involve something about the ocean since that is my inspiration to create.

I don’t agonize too much over my pieces once I get an idea and get started. I work pretty fast and although I try to think about what makes a “good composition”, if I can step back, look at it and say, “yeah, that’s what I like” then it’s done.

The piece of art I’m proudest of is the painting that I did when I get back from my travels in Greece in 2012. It was the first painting I had done in 40+ years. I chose acrylics as they seemed easier than oils although I had never used either! I had photographed a basket of oranges in Crete and I wanted to paint it. I think it came out pretty good for a newbie.

Again, my art journal is what gets me out of a rut or creative block. I just start experimenting and going out on a creative limb. There are not expectations when I turn to my art journal.

My dream project? Maybe to have a little gallery in Key West. I would sell art and donate the funds to the Mote Marine Research facility for coral reef preservation.

I have always loved the watercolors of Edward Hopper. I absolutely worship Deb Weirs, a mixed medium Canadian artist and although I can’t say I love Pablo Picasso’s entire body of work, I respect someone who can just put it out there and turn the art world on its head.