Emerging artist Stephanie Leonard has been creating vibrant paintings in her home studio — a.k.a. on the dining room table in her Preston Hollow condo — for the past several years as a relaxing reprieve from her busy, 9-to-5 day job. Now, she’s getting serious about her craft.
How did you get into painting?
I’ve been doing art for myself for eight years. Mostly commissioned pieces for my friends and family. I’m new to shows. My goal this year was to get myself out there and be part of the arts scene in Dallas. I applied for Etsy and did the spring show. I’m doing some shows with Piranha Bear in Fort Worth. I’m trying to meet different artists and learn from them. I hate creating stuff and having no place to put it. I have stacks of canvases against the wall in my house.
Did you go to school for art?
I went to Baylor and got a degree in graphic design, but I’ve never held a graphic design job. I got burned out. I don’t enjoy it when it’s my job. But then, I realized I missed art and being creative. I love it so much. My day job is so different. I’m an executive assistant for a very busy man. I have to use a different part of my brain and be very organized. [With art] I just let it flow. I go in lulls. You can’t force creativity. I’ve been in a place where I won’t paint for two months. I want to be happy with what I’m putting on the canvas. It sounds cliché, but I do it when it speaks to me.
How do you describe your work?
I love circles and dots and motion and energy in paintings. Everything I do has dots on it. I started out just using different kinds of buttons. I also love color and texture and using different layers of paper and sandpaper. I use stencils and stamping to create that depth. I’ve used chicken wire. I get inspiration from other artists. I love art blogs. I never paint without listening to music — old U2 or Phoenix.
How long have you lived in Preston Hollow?
I’ve lived here for seven years. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and lived most of my life in Wichita, Kan. My parents moved to Texas when I was a junior in high school, so I spent the last two years of high school in Arlington. Then, I went to Baylor, and then I moved to Southern California for six years. That’s a great place for art — anything and everything. I miss that about California. I moved back because I wanted to be closer to my friends and family. Dallas is a great city for art. The most disappointing change was Deep Ellum. I was there every weekend in high school listening to bands and going to art shows.
Are you married, or do you have any kids?
I just turned 40. I’m single. I’m focused on being happy and doing what I love to do. I appreciate life, and I want to get as much as I can out of it.
What are you working on now?
There’s an opportunity with Parkland Hospital where a group is inviting local artists to hang their work in the building. That excites me. Hospitals are seen as a negative thing, they’re sterile. I think art can be a healer. So, I’m submitting to that. I have a show at the Kettle in July in Deep Ellum.