September 21, 2023
In her still lifes and avian portraits, Chicago-based artist Leah Gardner showcases the way evening light can transform a humble tomato cluster or pot of tea into an object of intrigue and beauty. Working in oil paint on panel, Gardner’s visible, impasto brushstrokes depict sweeping shadows on tabletops and backdrops skewed through glass. “What excites me most is finding the colors hiding everywhere in plain sight, then deciding how much power to give them to create the mood I am after. It feels like a puzzle,” she says.
Entirely self-taught, Garnder first began painting a few years ago after the initial COVID-19 lockdowns. She gravitated toward still life because of the consistency a static image offers. “As I improved, it became an opportunity to create a narrative of a moment in time and tell a snippet of a story, while also getting to control for factors like light, position of shadows, and experiment with visually pleasing composition from the ground up,” she says. “I enjoy owning the process every step of the way.” Today, her works continue to evolve as she accentuates light and movement and identifies the extraordinary moments within everyday life.
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