I don’t spend a lot of time looking back as I’m usually too busy moving forward. However, surviving a decade as a small business while doing what I love is something worth celebrating!
So before diving into the next decade, I decided to take a moment to reflect on the last 10 years, where I’ve come from, what I’ve achieved and the things I can truly be grateful for.
So many of you have contributed to my success and I would like to sincerely thank you for that and share with you here some highlights of the last decade.
The travel bug… 30,000 miles across the USA
At the end of 2018 I achieved my dream of creating portraits of homes and historic buildings in every state across the USA. In the process I created around 2500 portraits in 35 architectural styles. The next step is publishing my coffee table book. This has proven to be more challenging than I thought but it is happening this year!
The Launch of the Leisa Collins Historic Preservation Award to give back to the community!
My mission is saving communities and culture through my art. Any building with history has a story and once it is destroyed it is lost forever. My goal is to leave a legacy that will help tell these stories in every painting and with each brushstroke.
In my travels across the US, I have seen that it is the individual, the homeowner and the community leaders who are the main cheerleaders and caretakers for saving and preserving beautiful historic homes and buildings. And, in the main, I have found that most do not just undertake such care for themselves and their families but are looking to preserve the character and beauty of their community.
I decided I would like to give back to such people in the community and in March 2013 I instituted the Leisa Collins Historic Preservation Award.
With this award, I recognize deserving individuals around the country who have set a stellar example of historic preservation through their efforts, skills or craftsmanship. The award is an original painting of the subject.
Published a video on how to create a house portrait
Before long and as new commissions came my way, I was receiving requests from clients and homeowners to explain “my process” in creating a portrait from start to finish. So I decided to put a video up to demonstrate how I do this. The subject in this case was a classic craftsman home in South Pasadena, CA that was close to my studio. The technique I use is pen and watercolor. First I create a detailed pen drawing and when that is fully done, I do a watercolor painting on top of it. I love the precision of the pen work and it helps me to include all those special details. The watercolor then gives further life and vibrance to the painting, allowing me to capture the true personality of the home.
Have enjoyed having homes and studios in all the main USA regions
Studio in Old Town Alexandria, VA – 2010
Studio in South Pasadena, CA – 2013
St. Louis, MO Studio – 2017
Clearwater, FL Studio – 2018
Formed The Flourishing Artist to help other artists makE their living from their art
Ten years ago (after a thirty year break), I re-launched my art career determined that I would successfully make my living once more from my art. But my intention was not to simply “get by” and eke out a living somehow. I personally don’t believe in the “starving artist” concept. I decided that I would flourish as an artist, allowing me to travel, take a lot of inspirational road trips and regularly see family in Michigan, New Zealand and Australia — while making my living at the same time.
Combining my artistic talents with some business and marketing savvy, I have achieved this. However, I see talented artists all around me, seemingly unable to pursue their artistic passions, and I wanted to do something to help. I have held regular workshops at my various studios and plan to do more in the future.
Video re overcoming obstacles to create the perfect house portrait
There are times — like this — when I get sent a photo to use for a house portrait and all I can do is laugh.
Once I get over my initial shock I just plow on ahead and get the job done, regardless. Why let a few obstacles stand in my way. Just for a laugh, I put this funny little “out-take” 2 minute video together so folks can actually see what is often involved in my line of work. Contrary to popular belief, an artist’s day to day routine isn’t just an idyllic life style filled with tranquil paintings sessions.
A little humor never hurts, and certainly fellow homeowners will find this entertaining.
Plus you will see how this train wreck of a photo turns into a work of art!
Working within the Community – art lessons for kids and community projects
I believe that art and creativity should be part of everyday living and children especially should have the opportunity to participate in diverse art projects. I also strongly oppose art being cut from school curriculum. In this regard, I like to help out where I can.
In the last ten years I have given art lessons and field trips in school classrooms, on the streets in front of historic landmarks, in parks and gardens, in front of the California Capital Building and even out in the wilderness of New Zealand when I have gone back home. I feel a sense of fulfillment in sharing the artistic talent I was gifted with and giving encouragement to young artists.
I always dreamed of creating a community mural that local residents could actively take part in. Finally that time arrived and in 2011 when I organized a community mural which gave hundreds of local children and adults the opportunity to leave their creative mark on a 60 foot public mural that has now become a landmark of the community of Del Ray in Alexandria, VA.
I recruited fellow local artists for the project which depicts a Del Ray street scene that shows how human rights play an integral part in any true community. The mural includes a number of articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The main painting event took place on the popular annual Art on the Avenue festival in Del Ray when throngs of enthusiastic children armed with brushes and paint containers got to work. Meanwhile, thousands of onlookers stopped and watched “art in action” as the mural took shape throughout the day.
Created MY FIRST online art store offering ORIGINALS AND PRINTS FOR SALE
At the end of 2019, I completed this on-line gallery. I created this body of work over several years and the majority of pieces have not been publicly displayed. Included, can be found city street scenes, historic places, country farmhomes and architectural collages — all fueled by my artistic passion for history and architecture.
The painting below is one of my latest and is part of my Iconic USA series where I enjoy using mixed media. This series consists in part of black and white images contrasting dramatically against areas of highly textured hand-painted acrylic paint surfaces. My goal is for each piece to tell its’s own iconic architectural story, such as Empire State Building.
Named after “Empire State”, the nickname of New York, this magnificent Art Deco structure was the tallest building in New York City for decades and the tallest in the world when it opened in 1931. I chose this subject to be part of my Iconic USA Series as the Empire State Building is not only the symbol of New York City but an internationally known American cultural icon.