A few months ago, while searching for some wine-related articles on the Internet, I stumbled upon some of the most vibrant and unique artwork that I have ever seen. Now, I might be a little biased because I am involved the subject of her art, but I think that Leanne Laine’s talent in painting scenes out of wine is absolutely stunning. This woman has a ton of passion, and lucky for us, she is sharing it with the world.
Leanne Laine was born in Manila, Philippines, and currently resides in British Columbia, Canada. Though her passion was always in the visual arts, her path to becoming a full-time artist was not a conventional fine arts path. I was lucky enough to be able to interview Leanne about her journey and her wine art, and this is what she had to say.
H&W: You are one of the most interesting artists out there with your use of wine as a theme in your art. Can you tell us a little about your paintings?
LL: Thank you so very much. With my art, I indulge in giving colors and shape a stimulating appeal. I believe that art should have no boundaries or limitations. Imagination is such a powerful tool, and I encourage it through my pieces. Wine itself carries these qualities which makes it such an interesting study. A simple wine glass needs to be painted to depict the gentle craftsmanship that goes into the making of a wine glass, so shapely, delicate and frail, yet has the strength to make a celebratory splash for its well aged and fermented grapes. The sheer movement of wine in a glass can be as compelling as the taste of the wine itself, so I try to enable the viewer to observe the movement and excite the palate as if they were swirling the wine themselves. In fact, some of my restaurant and wine bar clients have reported they’ve sold more wine since displaying my works in their establishments… guess it makes them thirsty. 🙂
H&W: Your story of how you became a full-time artist is inspiring for those of us who are inclined to follow our passions. Can you tell us how you got to where you are?
LL: I get asked this question so often. While I can say working hard, staying positive and always having patience, for me it boiled down to three things before I can even say all those things. #1) I was raised by a father who was an entrepreneur, and his parents were also entrepreneurs… both for many years. I learned a lot from them, watching and doing, since I was a young child. They taught me the value of hard work. #2) The earlier part of my life was full of adversity. I faced childhood depression, then abuse, and a taste of homelessness later into my teen years. It taught me that in order to survive, I had to stop allowing myself to keep being the victim and blaming others for my mess. Life isn’t fair but sometimes that can be a good thing… if you allow yourself to see it that way. And for me, which brings me to #3) God helped me see it that way. HE is how I’ve always been able to cope, persevere, stay positive and have patience.
H&W: Do you have a favorite piece that you have created over the years? What is it, and what about it makes it your favorite?
LL: Oh, this is hard for me as they all feel like my babies, so I hate to pick just one. Many of my pieces have stories behind them, and some pieces have stories now attached to them because of clients who bought them for their own personal reasons. But looking at my entire body of work, I would say that my exclusive “Women in Wine ®” series is a collection that I am quite proud of. While each piece depicts the elegance, sophistication, sweetness, and vibrancy of the movement of wine that hypnotizes the palate… the collection is also empowering to many women who come across it. It’s like I’ve quoted in my work “A Touch of Class”: A down to earth woman will always have class, for she stays close to her roots like from vine to the glass. My Women in Wine series ™ began with “Lady Merlot,” and at the time I had no idea that it would become so popular. Since then, a couple of other pieces that stand out are “Heiress of Reserves,” which I was commissioned to create by a dear friend of mine who lost her battle to breast cancer. Since her passing, I now donate proceeds of all sales of “Heiress of Reserves” to breast cancer research. The same goes for “Sweet Embrace,” a piece I created soon after the major tsunami in Japan. My heart wrenched that I created a speed-painting video of me painting it to help raise funds for relief efforts. Since creating “Sweet Embrace,” there continues to be extreme disasters across the globe… most recently the Philippines which struck a major chord with me as I was born there… that I’ve just decided to donate some of the proceeds of this piece to relief efforts going forward. My feelings about wine come alive through my “Women in Wine ®” Series, showing that wine is not only beautiful the way she swirls around the wine glass, but also that wine represents the variety of flavors that we women need to recognize within ourselves and celebrate them. But I also channel the same kind of energy in all my works, not just my Women in Wine Series. For instance, I try to be different by bringing life to my wine art through movement, color, light and shadow effects than create your typical “grapes by the bottle in Tuscany” kind of paintings. Adding movement, boldness and daring colors just feels better. I apply the same elements for the rest of my subjects.
H&W: Some of your art can be found in restaurants and galleries. Where can we see some of your paintings, out-and-about?
LL: I really enjoy working with commercial clients, and have been blessed to be able to work with great people who choose to purchase my art for décor and/or resale in their wineries, tasting rooms, restaurants, hotels & other establishments. I am happy and proud to say there are many locations throughout the USA, Canada and other parts of the world and I love showcasing those establishments through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. I recently started an album and will continue to show off pictures of these establishments where I also talk about them and linking to their pages as well.
H&W: What inspires you the most to be creative?
LL: It’s hard to pinpoint that because inspiration strikes me at any time; from something as drastic as a major global disaster that will drive me to create something to help raise funds…. or the simple experience of seeing something while taking a walk. Many times, my ideas come to me as I’m falling asleep. This is really frustrating because I’ll be tired but then suddenly an idea will pop up in my head, and then I’ll nudge my husband awake to tell him with excitement. Then I frustrate him because I’ve just woken him up, lol! Other times, I’ll just sit in front of a blank canvas and not even think. I’ll just let my hands do all the walking.
H&W: I have to ask, do you typically drink wine while you create your paintings? What is your wine of choice?
LL: That’s another question I sometimes get asked, makes me wonder if people think I am always tipsy in my studio, haha! I love wine but I am not a connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I just really find wine to be a fascinating subject matter and the making of wine is an art in itself… though I will sometimes dabble in a glass while I create. Just like my paintings, I don’t really have a favorite. With the many connections I’ve made within the global wine industry, I’ve opened my palate to try various wines… even better when it pairs well with the food I eat!
H&W: Do you have a favorite artist of all time? If so, who is she/he? Why is she/he your favorite?
LL: I’ve always loved the works of Alfred Gockel. His use of colors, shapes and techniques just speak to me. There is so much freedom in his work which I’ve always found so inspiring.
H&W: Ok, last question. What would be your one piece of advice for young artists out there who may be considering a career of making art full-time?
LL: Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t create art that you THINK people will like… create art that YOU like. Be TRUE to yourself… or else it becomes a JOB.
Thank you very much, Leanne, for taking the time to answer these questions about your lovely art.
You can find Leanne Laine Fine Art on the Internet here:
Her Facebook page.
On Twitter: @Leanne_Laine
**As the holiday season is upon us, please remember to support local and small businesses, such as artists like Leanne. It is a wonderful world that we live in where people are able to share their talents in a global way. Gifts that are original and filled with passion are the most special of gifts, in my opinion.