Thank you Nita for agreeing to be our artist of the month.
Like many women who are artists, I’m a late bloomer. I started out when I was creeping up on forty, a typical suburban wife and mother of four. My husband gave me a surprise gift of watercolors for my birthday. My life as an artist began in a suburban YMCA while my children took swimming lessons. With the first brush stroke I found myself enthralled with the medium. Over time, I discovered that teaching watercolor painting was a great way to learn and to help pay for my materials. From the beginning my greatest joy has been helping beginners get started. My goal in teaching is to inspire creativity and self-confidence in my students.
Color turned out to be my passion. After developing my color workshops, I wrote Exploring Color, published by North Light Books in 1985. I began teaching color workshops throughout the United States and Canada and writing magazine articles for The Artist’s Magazine, Watercolor Magic, Watercolor, American Artist and Somerset Studio magazines, as well as the Canadian Watercolour Gazette. In 1994 I designed and manufactured the Nita Leland(tm) Color Scheme Selector, a unique color wheel. Later, I filmed Exploring Color Workshop videos. Exploring Color Revised, an updated and expanded version of the original book was released in 1998. In 2000 I formed Moonflower Books and self‑published Exploring Color Coloring Book, a hands‑on color journal for artists. During these years I continued to teach and paint, exhibiting frequently with the Brown Baggers, a plein-air group that had been together since 1975.
Because of my interest in product quality, I’ve consulted with major manufacturers of art materials on watercolor paints and papers and presented seminars for more than ten years for the National Art Materials Trade Association and other trade organizations. I love the excitement of the consumer trade shows, where artists buzz around learning about new tools and tricks. I still hear from artists now and then who took my workshops at those shows.
North Light asked me to write a second book, so I collected the motivational lessons I’d taught in my watercolor classes, researched creativity, and wrote The Creative Artist (1990). This spurred my interest in collage, so I collaborated with Virginia Lee Williams on Creative Collage Techniques, which I recently enlarged and updated for North Light (2011). My books have all been bestsellers in their original and revised editions, along with Confident Color (2008). Four have been published in foreign languages: German, French, Dutch and Chinese. It totally amazes me to think that my words are circling the globe and helping artists to grow and prosper. To me, this is the best thing about the Web—that we are able to reach out and share knowledge with each other and enjoy a sense of community with other artists.
I still don’t know exactly what turned this stay‑at‑home mom into an artist, author and traveling workshop teacher. I’ve enjoyed meeting every new challenge and look forward to many more. For several years my artwork has taken a back seat to writing and teaching, but I still feel that watercolor is the driving force behind what I do. This quotation from Richard Bach is one of my favorites:
"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
I’m looking forward to hearing from blog readers—tell me your story—I know you have one!