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Behind the Canvas with Miller and Leake

By MADDIE ASHLEY and SOPHIE ASHLEY

Staff Writers

   Art teacher Caitlin Miller has loved art ever since she was a young child.

   “I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t making art. It was always my favorite thing to do, what I could always be doing,” Miller said. “Painting has always been my favorite so even as a kid I loved painting and then I was a painting major in college.”

   Painting was not only a hobby for Miller, but also a way for her to spend quality time with her dad.

   “My dad is an artist so just having that around, I’m sure, probably served as inspiration, as well,” said Miller. “He would always encourage me and sometimes he would say ‘Let’s set up this still life and paint it together’ – it was also a way we could bond.”

   More recently, Miller’s art process has been impact by her first child. “I’ve been doing more drawing on my iPad and I’ve been silk screening as well, making t-shirts, and selling those at craft fairs,” Miller said.

   Miller’s inspiration for artwork often comes from art history. Her favorite piece of art that she has created was inspired by her visit to historical art sites in Chichen Itza.

   “I really love going to archeological sites, so going to see Chichen Itza in person, I was just thinking about the fact that there are these pyramids that are built all over the world and those people didn’t know each other. I imagined this alien planet that had a dried up lake bed, a sunset in the sky, and three pyramids that had circles in the middle. The idea was creating this alien planet where aliens had these ideas of making monuments to the heavens,” Miller said.

   Miller stresses the importance of finding motivation to create artwork inside and outside of an educational setting.

   “It’s really important to develop an artistic practice outside of school and to do stuff on your own because being an artist, a huge part of it is being self motivated. Nobody is forcing you to make art. Developing that motivation on your own, keeping a sketchbook, drawing every day, or whatever type of media you enjoy working with is really important,” Miller said.

   Like Miller, art teacher Jared Leake started creating art at a young age; he spent much of his time making art in after school programs.

   “They would give us these really long sheets of paper and I would make these really weird, funny doodles,” Leake said.

   Leake was inspired mainly by his parents, both of whom were artists. His father did woodworking, while his mother enjoyed crafts like sewing and quilt making. Later in life, Leake became interested in drawing, painting, and three-dimensional art, thanks to his high school art teacher.

   His father’s interest in woodworking influenced Leake’s mixed media paintings using acrylic paints on pieces of wood. Leake bases many of his pieces off of his experiences.

   “It is not necessarily landscapes but it is taking that particular scene, so if a surfer is in the water, if it’s vintage cars going down the street, if it’s going off hiking and finding an interesting ridgeline that I want to capture the texture or look of the actual mountain face itself, and so being inspired just by being outside is a key to all of my artwork,” Leake said.

   In 2008, when the stock market was crashing, Leake was inspired to create one of his favorite pieces. “I was analyzing all the data of the stock market and looking at all the numbers, so I was doing photo transfer techniques onto canvas panels. So you have huge enlarged numbers all over the place, and then I took some oil paint that was all rusty and was dripping it over the top so it was kind of trying to reflect on the experiences individuals were going through when the stock market was tanking,” Leake said.

   Leake’s advice to young artists is to never stop creating.

   “Just keep making. That’s the most important part. If you are inspired by anything in terms of something you see, make it original, make it your own,” Leake said.

Check out The Perennial Newspaper YouTube account on Jan. 31 for an exclusive interview with Leake and Miller.

 

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