Sunday, 1 April 2012

April's Artist of the Month... Nita Leland

 Thank you Nita for agreeing to be our artist of the month. 



Hello BWS

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! 

                                                                                                                        Nita

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are delighted to welcome you Nita as our "Artist of the month" and thank Ona for arranging this.

At the watercolour classes I attend your books are referred to frequently by our artist teacher, also a great admirer of your work and techniques.

I am looking forward to watching the blog for all the questions and answers coming from our lucky members.

Lizbeth

Anonymous said...

Hi Nita, How do you decide what colours to use when you start a painting? Do you have the same colours you use all the time or do you vary it. You are an inspiration to all us housewives. Janet

Nita said...

Thanks, Lizbeth, for your kind words. It means so much to hear that artists are benefiting from my books. That makes all the hard work worth it!
Janet--For years I used the same 6-8 colors my teachers used, but when I began to study paint characteristics I saw that there were many choices that I could use if I tried to find the colors that worked best together. For example, I learned that colors with strong tinting strength took all the energy out of colors that couldn't stand up to them in a mixture. I test my colors for transparency, intensity, and tinting strength and when I'm ready to do a painting, I use no more than 3-6 colors. I like to work with fresh paint to get richer color and I mix and mingle the colors on wet paper before painting so I can be sure I get the colors I want. I'm so happy to inspire housewives, because I still am one and I know just how you feel!

Rebecca said...

Wow Nita, What a great story you have! I love your paintings. Do you have a website, blog, or facebook page where we can see more of your work? I'd love to take a look!
Rebecca

Nita said...

Thanks for asking, Rebecca. You can see more of my paintings and writing here:
http://www.nitaleland.com

http://nitaleland@blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/nita.leland?ref=tn_tnmn

If you ask to be my friend on Facebook, you can see more.

Ona Kingdon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ona Kingdon said...

Thank you for posting the links Nita. I've has a question e mailed to me from kathleen who was not sure how to post a question so here it is

How much do you use pouring to start a painting?

Nita said...

Kathleen and Ona--I don't do much pouring in my watercolors. However, I do like to begin with wet paper and big brushes, so the color flows freely from the loaded brush and spreads a bit like it does when pouring. I like Jean Grastorf's techniques very much, but to tell the truth, I'm not much into masking and that's almost a requirement with pouring. Depending on the subject, I'll usually lay in a sky or background this way and go from there.

Anonymous said...

I love the look of your collage work. I'd like to go more abstract with my work and this looks just the sort of thing I'd like to try. Can you explain your process just a little?

madelaine

Diana Li said...

Nita: I love your book "Creative Artist" which is very inspiring. What a pleasure to be able to talk to the author of such a wonderful book.

I get bored very easily so I found your book very exciting. However, I ended up doing a little bit of everything without my own style. At first I thought having fun in the process of making art is most important. Then I get lost of myself among my 'diversified' pieces. Please enlighten me.

Diana

Nita said...

Hi, Thanks for stopping by!
Madelaine--I think one of the best ways to get started in abstract painting is to think in shapes. That's why it seems to be easier in collage, because collage is usually based on shapes. When you get past the images and just play with edges and colors you forget about picky details and think about relationships of the shapes. There are a zillion ways to start, but one of my favorites is to first gather harmonious colors I like in paper or magazine pages and then tear a large colored shape for the main piece. Make it have interesting edges. Then play with other colors and shapes next to it, some on top and some underneath the edges. There is no formula, just what pleases you. If you like, you can add textures and small objects to your design, but keep it simple.

Diana--It takes a while to develop a style, but usually it happens naturally over time. The process is important, but I think among your diversified pieces you may seem some you like better than others or common elements that appear in several pieces and these things may lead you to your style if you investigate them. Try doing a series with a common element or color scheme you like and see where it takes you. You may have more of a style than you realize already!

Nita

Ona Kingdon said...

Hi Nita,

Thanks for all your wonderful responses to our members questions.

I have one for you now. I'm getting to grips with the exhibition side of things but have yet to look into magazine articles and books. How did you go about finding a publisher? Any advice you could give me about publishers or magazines in general would be really appreciated. I've tended to focus on getting my actual paintings in front of people so far.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nita
I was delighted to see that you are our Artist of the month. I have owned your book Exploring Color Revised EDition for a long time. It is a favorite reference with me & inspiration. I especially admire your paintings in the book ``Icon``, ``Mirage`` & ``Free Spirit``
Joanne

Nita said...

Thanks to Joanne for your kind comments about my book and my artwork. Two of those paintings are from Rancho de Taos, New Mexico. The third is from my imagination, using a triad of bold primary colors. Lots of fun to do!

Ona--Your question about finding a publisher is complicated. I'll try to boil it down to a few simple matters. First and foremost, you need a "hook"--an idea that is interesting, unique and consistent in your work. That usually means you don't send different styles and subjects and ask the editor to pick one. Next, go to the Web site of a publisher whose books and magazines fit your topic and look for guidelines. See if you can find the name of the Aquisitions Editor. Normally you begin the process by sending a 1-page query letter to a specific person. The letter includes your hook and a brief description of your book or article. Include some information showing you are qualified in the subject. Ask if you may submit samples of your writing and your work following guidelines on the Web site (or ask for guidelines). Do not send these with the query unless requested. Also, it isn't necessary to have the article written. If an editor is interested, she may have suggestions about how to slant your article when you write it and also about the length she needs, etc. Some other thoughts: Some magazines accept email queries. For the best information across the board on publishing I go to the library and check out the annual Writer's Market book. Details on submissions and contact info are found there. Your work is so good, you won't have a problem with quality, but you may have to work at finding a niche among your great variety of subjects. Go with whatever you are most passionate about when you paint and what is most popular among your buyers and exhibitions. It will help if you are organized and a good writer. But if you're not, don't let that discourage you. Remember, they need material to publish and if you hit the right note, a good editor can pull things together. I hope this helps. Maybe Jane will have something to add. Oh, one more thing. If you send material on request, be sure to include an envelope addressed to you with sufficient postage for return. I hope this helps!

Ona Kingdon said...

Thank you so much Nita

Anonymous said...

Hi Nita

I have enjoyed your response to artists' questions and benefitted. I am a self taught artist and always feel a bit lacking without the proper fine art credentials. What is your opinion of that? I hope to be able to move from a hobby level to a more serious one and would like to hear your advice on this. Many thanks.

Nita said...

I responded to this two days ago, but apparently my reply got lost in cyberspace. I want you to know that you don't need "credentials" to be a fine artist. You don't even need "talent." But you do need determination and a willingness to work very hard (read: practice practice practice). Hobby painters paint when they want to, serious painters because they have to. Don't confuse "hobby" with "craft" because some craft artists are serious artists. I tell my students that it takes patience, practice, and perseverance to become an artist. A degree is nice because the course of study is focused and you might achieve more quickly with discipline. I have great respect for artists who have earned their degrees. But if you work that hard on your own, you can achieve whatever level you aspire to. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Dear Nita
Thank you very much for your reply. I am very enlightened by what you said about determination and work hard. This will be my motto for sure. Thanks again.

Nita said...

I appreciate the honor of being your Artist of the Month for April. I hope my contributions have been helpful. If anyone else would like to contact me, please email me nita@nitaleland.com, as I won't be checking this link on a continuing basis. Have a great time painting this Spring!
Nita

Ona Kingdon said...

Thank you Nita