Friday, June 29, 2018

Featured Exhibitor: Chillon Leach

From a distance, Chillon Leach's paintings tell a story of topographical maps, colorful cloud haze, and ink diffusing through water. Up close, those images are suddenly infused with magic as the paint catches light. Chillon's medium of choice is a paint made of crushed gemstones, and her detailed lines create layered dimension as the colors fade into each other. There's no denying that each painting is a special "map" to the viewers' imagination, and we love Chillon's talent and intention that she pours into her beautiful work.



Who are you and what do you do?


My name is Chillon Leach. I’m a self-employed visual artist from St. Paul, MN, specializing in painted textiles, mixed media paintings, and illustration. Currently, I’m focusing on creating watercolor and ink paintings on paper. The paints I use have been manufactured from genuine gemstones and minerals which have been mined from around the world. (over 37 different ones) The entire series is entitled: “Gem Islands”. These sparkling and detailed paintings appear as topographical maps, as seen from above, of mythical islands. The carbon black ink areas of pointillism dots and lines emphasize geographical features of mountains, plains, bayous, rivers, and other bodies of water.

What’s the latest thing you’ve been working on?


These “Gem Island” paintings. I’ve never felt so passionate and solid about a body of work! I’ve been working on them for 2 years and now earnestly starting to show them.

What was your first memory of making something?


When I was about 4 years old, my mom taught me how to color, create detailed shaded areas, and outline in coloring books. I have my original drawing of a stick person, complete in body, head, appendages, and features from when I was 2 1/2.


What do your customers love most about your product(s)?


The sparkle of the paints! The fact that genuine gemstones with gum Arabic as the binder makes up the paint itself; the extensive detail work of black ink pointillism dots throughout the entire painting; the sensation of becoming “lost” during viewing. I’ve been told viewing the paintings has a meditative and positive affect; a sense of the infinite or the cosmos; the magical possibilities of an island actually existing like this. That the stones themselves could have ancient healing properties, for those who are interested in alternative healing practices.

Is this a full-time business for you?


Yes, it is. I also continually look for opportunities of turning my many interests into additional revenue streams, be it teaching, speaking engagements, or new art making experiences that have niche markets. I also take chances and say ‘yes’ to bigger jobs that allow me to grow in new and often times unexpected but appreciated ways!

What’s your favorite item that you sell?


All of these paintings! I also offer commission work if someone would like their own personal “Gem Island” done in colors they prefer or gemstones that are meaningful or healing to them. I would sit with them while placing the base colors; after the paints have dried at home, I would then do the finishing black dot work while alone, and yet, thinking of the client while doing so. These paintings are very meditative and engrossing to create, both in the actual painting and in the pointillism dot work.


Why did you start working in this particular craft?


I wanted to treat myself to some new watercolors after having taking an unsatisfying class. I have always loved jewelry, rocks, minerals, and gemstones and discovered this line of paints….this was the perfect combination for me! As I played with my various sheets of cold press 100% cotton watercolor papers, many of them handmade from various countries, the painted areas took on a topographical appearance as the paints moved and settled in the grooves and bumps of the papers. The black ink work emphasizes certain areas and gives an almost 3D affect in sections.

What are some inspirations for your work?


I’m revisiting the part of me that wants to travel and explore and to write the back story for these Gem Islands. I’m inspired by my love of color and sparkle, and the contrast of black with it --- maybe this goes back to my early coloring book days with my mom! Both of my parents have always been very supportive of my art and craft making.



Check out more of Chillon Leach's beautiful paintings online, and be sure to stop by her booth at the Minneapolis Gift & Art Expo, November 2-4, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center!


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CATEGORY:  Featured Exhibitors