“Don’t think of artist as a title.”
Shannon Leigh has been working with art professionally for over 20 years, and has explored the areas of painting, printmaking, and drawing in her work. Even before she began working with art, she always had an appreciation for it, and once she started, she enjoyed the ability to create things and the ability to use her art to communicate and solve problems. She uses her art to provide solutions to questions and scenarios, and prefers the two-dimensional mediums of graphite and painting to other mediums as it requires her to find a new way to portray reality.
Shannon gathers her inspiration from practically everywhere, such as visual media, nature, and historical works. With history she endeavors to look back and reinterpret it, using painting and drawing as its own way of storytelling. Her most prominent influences include El Greco, John Singer Sargent and Picasso, and she works to make her art realistic, but also distorted enough to appear more dramatic. In addition, she also focuses carefully on the effect that pencil and brush strokes have on her art, as the individual marks are unique and never can be created the same way.
Taking the advice of Terry Jackson, her artistic mentor from her high school, to never fall in love with her work, Shannon doesn’t have a favorite piece that she’s done. She constantly strives to evolve her art. One of her earliest works that she can recall is an image of a child looking out a window to see an image of old man’s supersized, close-up eye looking back. Even at this early stage she was already considering the thematic impact of her work, including the ability to look at yourself over time and to ask the question “who’s observing who?” Currently, she is working on a study of zodiac constellations and the images that can be made from the stars.
Shannon’s goals are to never settle, to remain curious, and to continue to question things. The hardest element for her when doing art is to know when to stop, and to be willing to walk away to start a new piece. Her advice to current and future artists is to not think of “artist” as a title, and to not be made to feel that your personal survival is dependent on your art. She believes that “successful artists in history are renaissance professionals, and you have to know a little bit of everything to succeed.” What makes her artwork valuable to her is the ability to create something out of nothing, which is something that no one can take away from her.