Stop by the Carrollwood Cultural Center or the Life Enrichment Center in Forest Hills, and one thing is clear: Local artists are making their mark in north Tampa.
One of those artists is Carrollwood resident Diane Leeper, who we recently talked to about what her influences are and how the community can see her work.
Patch: How did you get started as an artist?
Leeper: The same way everyone does - I started drawing! I don’t think it’s hard to start doing art. I think it’s hard to keep going without supportive people to remind you it’s worthwhile.
Patch: Who or what influences you?
Leeper: Challenges, new ideas and stories. I’m thrilled that more people are getting in on the secret that art and science go hand in hand. Art is a great way to observe the world and communicate ideas. It encourages exploring and asking new questions.
That’s why I enjoy surrounding myself with creative thinkers, especially in areas that interest me but I haven’t investigated yet. Artists are visual explorers. Designers are visual scientists. We ask questions like, “How can I draw this box so it looks dimensional?" or "How can this poster best express the way the band sounds?" or "How can we make a digital 3D representation of this MRI easier for doctors to read?" Everything starts with curiosity.
Patch: What are misconceptions that people have about artists?
Leeper: There are two that really irk me. One is misconception is that only certain people can be “true artists.” Anyone can learn to draw; it's a skill, and that takes dedication. My favorite quote is "Talent will start what hard work will finish." (Of course, it's not hard work if you love doing it.)
The most dangerous misconception is that art is a standalone, useless hobby. People who scoff at "art" haven't taken a serious look at how everything around them is designed with a purpose in mind, usually by an unnamed artist. The vast majority of art isn't signed and will never hang in a museum. It’s too important to everyday life to go there!
Professional artists and designers learn successful design is invisible. Ironic, isn't it?
A great example of that is the chair you're probably sitting in now. There's an exhibit up now at the Tampa Museum of Art on the art and design of chairs, which most people don't think about as "art" or designed.
Patch: What do you think your artwork says about you?
Leeper: I’m thrilled by challenges. I experiment. I love discovering new ways of looking at things, new ways of drawing or painting things, and using new materials that I’ve never tried before. I like starting with sketches and assembling them into a grand composition. I like starting with a huge glob of ink splattered in the middle of an empty page. I like starting things, because then I get the chance to follow where they go. And that's always exciting.
Patch: How can people view your work?
Leeper: I am working on a new piece to enter the into Carrollwood Cultural Center’s upcoming show. Anyone can enter, and the last show had some amazing work. I’m also keen to take another ceramics class, so more of my work might pop into the Mudslinger’s gallery.
Online, I keep a portfolio of my paintings and digital work at www.dianeleeper.com.