A World Infused with Vibrant Color by Lisa Cyr
As a Master of Fine Arts instructor for several graduate programs, I have the opportunity to work with many talented professional artists, designers, illustrators and animators. Every year, there are a few creatives that seem to really stand out. Artist and designer Leslie M. Ward, a Marywood University Get Your Masters with the Masters program graduate, is one of those creative individuals and I am so pleased to showcase her work in this behind-the-scenes interview.
When Leslie closes her eyes, she sees a world infused with broad strokes of vibrant color. Deeply emotive, abstract paintings created with ink and watercolor, Leslie’s work is experimental and elemental in approach.
While working, the artist allows the intense colored inks to flower and spread organically across the working surface, creating interesting fractal-like patterns. Leslie’s unique process has ignited a profound sense of curiosity, leading her to explore a plethora of unconventional techniques and materials.
Colorful Inking! A Q&A with Mixed-Media Artist Leslie M. Ward
Lisa Cyr: As a colorist, where do you get your inspiration? What are your artistic and design influences? Do you follow color trends?
Leslie M. Ward: Color trending has been an interest of mine for years. While in college, I even spent a summer as an intern with The Color Association of the United States, the nation’s oldest color forecasting group. Color itself is my inspiration: whether it’s found in flowers, in the paint section of a home improvement store or in an oil slick. I’m also inspired by tiny details which is the one thing the medium I work in (alcohol ink) has fully indulged. The closer you look, there is always something intricately beautiful in the way ink spreads on a surface. As for my art and design influences, I look at a lot of fashion and stationery brands for inspiration but I do my best not be too influenced by any one brand, artist, or designer.
LC: Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to product development? Discuss the process, design, formats, and color palettes you employ.
LMW: The products I make all come from a place of, “Oooh, I want that!” Every product I’ve designed started with me wanting my colors all around me, hopefully in a useful way. I started with phone cases then moved into planners. Simultaneously, I was getting artwork printed large for my walls and on fabric to be able to wear. I have an ever-growing list of products that I want to ink, so I’m still running small batches of things to test in my online shop.
The design of all my products is centered around a focus on color. I also really love type so I’m always trying to find a good balance in adding type where appropriate. As for formats, I try to be flexible. I look up what size greeting cards are selling from small shops and how many of my friends use iPhone vs. Android devices, etc. I can’t make everything for everyone, but I hope to grow and provide more options as I do.
LC: Describe your artistic working environment and how it helps support your distinctive process and approach.
LMW: I paint with an alcohol-based ink on non-porous surfaces, usually synthetic paper. The inks are brightly colored and have interesting properties, making them difficult to blend, but beautiful to watch. I find my approach to art making therapeutic. For me, making art is like meditation. Sometimes when the ink moves the way I want it to, my heart starts to race as I move the paper around, making sure it dries at the right time.
When it comes to my work environment, I’m not very picky. I did one painting a day for 100 days and I learned to ink in less than ideal conditions. All I need is my ink, paper, and a flat surface, and even that is negotiable. Recently, I started to organize my workspace to make it easier to create work quickly. Sometimes just the time it takes to clear space and get supplies out can stop the creative flow. When I have everything accessible, it makes it easier to get to the good stuff faster.
LC: What do you see yourself incorporating in your work as your vision evolves?
LMW: I’m currently looking into more custom options, whether that be commissioned artwork, original pieces, or even monogramming. I may even add resin or acrylic inks to the mix. I’ve also been at play with collage lately, so some of that might make it to public view eventually.
Author bio: Lisa Cyr is the author of Experimental Painting: Inspirational Approaches for Mixed-Media Art, available for instant download at NorthLightShop.com