|"Sunshine On Her Shoulder" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
Today I'm interviewing Dottie Turner Leatherwood. Dottie recently co-hosted Artists Helping Artists and I came across her beautiful oil paintings. her colors are vibrant and her compositions are beautiful. She's at the beginning of her career but I see a long amazing journey ahead of her.
How did you get your start? What’s your artist journey so far?
_ I have always loved to draw. I had this huge imagination as a child. My real world wasn’t where I wanted to be so I escaped into my imaginary world which had everything I wanted and needed. Drawing to me was a way to make things real. I wanted lots of dogs and horses ….so that’s what I drew. I wrote long epic stories and drew elaborate house plans where I would live one day. All my stuffed animals had personalities and I rotated which ones got to sleep in the bed so they wouldn’t get their feelings hurt! I told you….a vivid imagination!! I actually minored in art in college, which really amounted to taking more drawing classes. I have always done something creative. I have painted murals, painted pottery and refinished and custom painted furniture. But I have always wanted to paint. I guess you could say my mid-forties got to me and I decided if I was ever going to do it the time was now. So at the beginning of 2011, I bought oil paints and canvases and haven’t looked back. I do love a challenge!
|"Rusty Bug Needs Love" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
Where were you born?
- Savannah, Georgia. I couldn’t get away fast enough after I graduated high school and I have been trying to get back ever since!
If you could live anywhere where would you live?
- Definitely somewhere by the sea. I can see it in my head….white house that is more porch than house, a great kitchen, a sea of green grass and sparkling water as far as the eye can see, and that pungent smell of the marsh filling me with that “ahhhhh…” kind of peace. The salt air is good for my soul. I try to get back to visit as often as I can but it’s never enough and just makes me miss it more!
|"Fresh Local Shrimp" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
- So many things to paint…. So little time! I paint everything …queen of “Painting ADD”! I think I paint memories and personalities. I have always felt, since I was a little girl, that if I could just put an image down on paper or canvas, I could capture that moment in time forever. It’s kind of a compulsion in a way, I guess. I always try to capture the spirit or personality of what I see ….whether that is a place, an object or an animal. I guess I still retain that overactive imagination of a child. Everything has a soul.
Could you talk about your painting techniques?
- I love color. The brighter and bolder the better. I like to use a lot of paint and when I can’t get the effect I want with a brush I love to use a palette knife. I paint alla-prima and tend to paint very fast. Sometimes I will work on a painting over several days if I am layering a lot of color but usually I am done in a day. If I leave the painting for too long …I tend to lose interest and never finish it. A painting teacher once told me I paint paintings like I am cranking out widgets in a factory. I do produce a lot of paintings but as all artists know, not all of them are keepers. I paint in oils and lay in my painting with a wash of transparents and safflower oil (thank you Dreama Tolle Perry!). About half the time I lay in the first layer using the complement of the colors that I intend to finish up with. I like using a very gessoed non-absorbent surface or either a panel. I want my brush to fly along the canvas, not get stuck in the weave.
|"Allegiance" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
- I took a workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry and she introduced me to the transparent oils which have totally changed the way I paint. It was what I had been looking for all along but just didn’t know existed. I love Gamblin, Rembrandt and Richeson paints…the consistency is perfect for my way of painting. Right now my favorite color is Permanent Rose, but like my old stuffed animals, that could change tomorrow!!
Do you have a favorite artist? Who has been your biggest inspiration?
- That would be like picking my favorite child …impossible! I love all of the old masters of course but I guess the artist that really inspired my love of color would have to be Betty Anglin Smith. I just love her sense of design and bold color. There are so many fabulous artists out there today and thanks to my computer I can spend way more time than I can afford, just immersing myself in their art.
I would have to say that my friends have been my greatest inspiration. I have such a strong network of friends believing in me and cheering me on. They really lift me up.
|"Oaks and Palms" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
What have been some of your crowning achievements?
- Hmmm….I’m not sure I have any big ones. I have really only had my paintings out in the world for about a year so I am just beginning. I think just plugging away day after day is an achievement sometimes! I celebrate the small things… getting into a show, getting to co-host the AHA show with Leslie Saeta, selling a painting, the perfect brushstroke that just makes the painting sing. All of those are so exciting to me!!
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
- 1. I am starting to seek out gallery representation (scary!) so that would definitely be in the top five.
- 2. I want to paint and eat my way through Italy, Greece and France.
- 3. I want to conquer the world….kidding! I want to be able to support myself with my painting.
- 4. Keep improving my painting and get accepted to some of the bigger shows. I always think I am going to get in even though I am nowhere near ready. I have that deadly combination of optimism and impatience!
- 5. World peace or at least peace in my world. :)
|"Reflections of a Shrimp Boat" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
- Paint, paint and paint some more. You cannot develop unless you put the hours in on canvas. And when you get stuck, find someone to help you...take classes or workshops, ask questions. Never be afraid to put yourself out there and try something that scares you.
|"Come Sail Away" original oil by Dottie T Leatherwood|
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
- Don’t compare your art to others. Believe that what you do is unique and has value and build on that.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Your dream vacation spot?
I would love to go on an African safari
Book or movie?
Book. Movies seldom capture my full attention. I guess it’s that imagination thing again!
If I had to pick just one it would be Maya Angelou. She inspires me. But I love great southern authors with eccentric characters that remind me of my family and where I grew up!
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
mmmmm……warm bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce
Night owl or morning person?
Most definitely a morning person if I am working. But I do love to hang out with my friends and family and have a reputation as being the last one home from a party or night out. I don’t ever want to miss a thing!
Dottie thank you so much for your interview!
Have a fabulous weekend everyone! Can't wait to share my newest painting with you on Monday:)