Draw Deeper Artist Interviews: Tara Leaver

Check out the WIngs, Worms, and Wonder Draw Deeper Into Nature Interview Series! Click through to get inspired and win a free spot in the course!
 It’s Day 2 of the Draw Deeper Into Nature Special Artist Interview Series!!

 

Today we get expressive with Tara Leaver!

 

Tara is an artist living in England who paints gorgeous natural landscape inspired imagery. Beyond creating her own beautiful images, she also teaches others how to let their artist within loose with her many eCourses!

 

Tara’s paintings are like nature therapy and make you feel more relaxed just looking at them! I was first introduced to her work when I learned we were both teachers in the Spectrum 2016 course and I have been loving it ever since!!

 

Let’s get to know Tara!

 

1. You use the term “abstractify” to describe your artistic style of letting loose; how did you come up with this wonder filled philosophy? 

 

Since I began painting again about eight years ago, I’ve been on a continuous search to discover what’s ‘mine’ in terms of self expression. I took a lot of courses and did {and still do} a lot of experimenting, and the best way I found to make the kind of expressive and free art that I was longing to make was to take recognisable subjects and loosen them up a bit.

 

I call this abstractifying. It’s not about creating pure abstract work per se {although it could of course be that in someone else’s hands}; it’s really about having a starting point in something you know, and then taking it somewhere only you can take it.

 

For me that meant softening up edges, using non local colour {ie. colour not native to the subject}, distorting and generally playing around with my starting point {which is often a reference image} until it moved away from what it had been and became something new and fresh and personal.

 

That’s such a great way to explain it! You take the scene and make it your own, or adding you into it perhaps! I love the idea of painting self expressive landscapes. Often I think people assume a landscape has to be a literal scene, but you show us it has the potential to be really personal! I also love the idea of “abstractify” – to soften up and relax into the scene and the painting.

 

Get inspired with Tara Leaver in the WIngs, Worms, and Wonder Special Artist Interview Series. Click though to read the interview!

 

 
2. You love the ocean landscape & it’s been a big influence on your life and work. Were your childhood nature connections built on a beach?
 

I grew up in London, but we did always visit places by the sea on holidays. From the time I was seven, we used to rent a big old house on the beach in Sussex, and I always loved it there; I’d spend hours hunting for shells and playing in the rock pools. We also had a cottage in Normandy, and one of my main memories of that is visits to the beach.

It’s funny, I feel as though I’ve always loved the sea and had a specific bond with it, but have never lived by it or been quite as obsessed with it as I am now until I actually moved to the coast in 2008. When I think of the beach in connection with my childhood I do have some very specific memories, and because we always went to that house in Sussex I did part of my growing up there over the years, and the sea plays a part in all of that.

 

I totally understand. I grew up inland a bit, but we spent much of the summer at a house at the beach too. I always begged my parents to move there because I wanted to live by the ocean so much, and now I get to!

 

Get inspired with Tara Leaver in the Wings, Worms, and Wonder Special Artist Interview Series. Click though to read the interview! 

 

3. How does nature influence your regular creative practice of expressive art as a transcendent practice?
 

Probably the main way is that living by the sea I do spend a large amount of time down on the beach, walking, looking for sea glass, taking photos, or just sitting and letting the rhythm of the waves calm my mind, which is often when new thoughts and ideas have space to make themselves heard.

The sea is an integral part of my creative and connective/spiritual practices, and for several years I wondered why that wasn’t coming through in my art. But then it isn’t always as obvious or straightforward as that.

 

This year my art does seem to be more directly influenced by the beach, but the inspiration the sea provides is far more expansive than just one creative outlet. I think mainly it’s both a way to quiet the mind and a form of inspiration that indirectly affects everything, in ways that aren’t always immediately obvious but can be recognised later.

 

I think that is so true with nature. The influence it has on us isn’t always as straightforward or direct as a literal translation to the page. When we can make regular space in life for nature and creativity their influences shine through in so many ways that we may not realize in the moment!

 

 Get inspired with Tara Leaver in the WIngs, Worms, and Wonder Special Artist Interview Series. Click though to read the interview!

 

4. What is your #1 tip for inspiring new nature journalers to release into the joy of the process?
 

I would say get outside and be in it!

I work from reference and memory quite often, but there’s no substitute for the sensory experience of being outdoors, immersed in nature; perhaps it’s because it can flow into and through you better that way. It doesn’t need a lot of equipment; you can take a sketchbook and pencil or some pastels or watercolours, or take photographs {a great way to really start noticing details, creating your own compositions and seeing how light falls}, or make mandalas with leaves and feathers, or simply walk and let your mind float free for a while, whatever feels most interesting in the moment.

 

In my experience the inspiration isn’t always a straight line from subject to creation; just trust that it’s all being absorbed and will come back out when it’s ready, which might be much later!

 

I love how you remind us to keep it simple. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment. Just get out there and enjoy – keeping it simple often frees us up for wonder-filled creative connections!

 

 Get inspired with Tara Leaver in the WIngs, Worms, and Wonder Special Artist Interview Series. Click though to read the interview!

 

5. What’s your favorite smell in nature and is there a story why?
 

I wanted to say the smell of the sea, because that would make sense. 🙂 And I do love that smell, especially when the tide is receding and exposing the wet sand, which has a very distinctive smell. But probably my favourite natural scent is freshly cut grass. Whenever I go past a newly mown lawn I stop and take deep breaths; that fresh green smell feels like a kind of opening up to me. It smells like possibilities.

The smell of possibilities, amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing Tara!!

 

 Be sure to check out Tara’s work and website through the links below and definitely follow her on Instagram at @taraleaver so you can see more of these gorgeous paintings!

Tara Leaver blog image Tara’s Bio

 

I’m an artist and I live by the sea on the south coast of England. I’m fascinated by art and creativity as tools for self expression and self connection – as a means to experiencing yourself as a whole person with a rich interior life that is naturally expressed through your creativity.

I love exploring ideas and possibilities, and conducting experiments. I wrote a book called Creative Spark on these themes, and offer various art based online courses which are aimed at helping people uncover and develop what’s unique about their creative expression, and that offer support and encouragement in responding to the creative pull as part of day to day life.

 

What landscape could you soften and paint yourself into?

Share in the comments below!

Comment on every post interview this week (May 16-20) to be entered to win a free spot in Draw Deeper Into Nature!

Winner announced Monday May 23!

 

Seeds to Sprout:

Check out Tara’s site and blog at taraleaver.com

Follow her on Instagram @taraleaver 

 

Join me for an hour of fun free nature journaling fun!! And win prizes too! Click through to register!Be sure to register here for the live event Wednesday May 18 at noon!!! I’ll be giving away 3 prizes including a spot in the course!

 

 

 

 

Learn more about Draw Deeper Into Nature and register here

Or if you are new to nature journaling, Watch info videos and register for Draw Deeper Into Nature and the Draw + Draw Deeper Bundle here!

Early bird pricing ends this Wednesday, May 18, at midnight est!!

The Draw Deeper Into Nature eCourse Starts May 23, Registration closes May 28!

28 thoughts on “Draw Deeper Artist Interviews: Tara Leaver

  1. Oh! I love this interview! Never thought about softening up. I tend to get frustrated thinking it needs to be spot on, now I feel inspired to relax and let it flow, more of how I feel than how it looks. Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Kryste! I think it’s very easy to forget that we can make our own rules {or get rid of them altogether!} after a lifetime of schooling and being part of a system. I know I often have to recalibrate myself to something softer. I hope you’ll enjoy getting out into nature and easing up on yourself and how you make art. 🙂

  2. I am a lover of the new word abstractifying. I can’t wait to find out how this works for me, when I move from my starting point. Your work, with its soft edges, captures the essence of the place. I like how you mentioned trying to find your own creative expression and style. I have taken many on line courses and I have a tendency to follow along with the instructor and sometimes my style is not visible. I can’t wait to create landscapes based on smell.

    1. Isn’t that word fantastic Renee!!! I agree it is so easy for your own style to get a little buried when taking a class, that is why in Draw Deeper into Nature I wanted to put a lot of focus on the participants developing their own styles and how to go about that. And I want to see that smell landscape!!

    2. Thank you for the kind words Renee! My work is very much about finding what’s unique to each of us; it can be so easy to end up unintentionally picking up the styles of other teachers or artists whose work we love. I found myself doing it so much I dedicated myself to finding another way! Paintings based on sensory experience is definitely a really fun way to start finding your own mark making/colour palette vocabulary. Enjoy!

  3. Since I am spending the week in Edisto Island I would soften and paint myself right where I am. I love where I live at home out in the country. This place is going to the beach out in the country. There is farmland, forests, animals, history and the beach all in one place, covered with a blanket of serenity.

    1. That sounds like an amazing place to get out the art supplies! Thanks for taking the time to read my interview Sunshine. Happy outdoor arting! 🙂

    2. I totally agree. Edisto is a perfect balance of country and beach and that is one of the things that makes that place so special and so perfect for you Sunshine!

  4. I can definitely try this at the arboretum near my house…abstractify with lots of nature to choose from and play with. I will use my camera, nature collage, pencils and paints and see where inspiration leads me! Thanks for the idea!

  5. I am also drawn to the ocean and all of the vistas it offers but I find myself living in the woods so I would soften up the trees and open up spaces . I would also like to experiment with garden themed painting. Thank You for the interview.

    1. I love garden themed paintings Paula. You should experiment with one! I know it would be beautiful. You could paint all the veggies you love to eat!

  6. I grew up in the Mediterranean. I’m from a small town I. Spain and we live right on the beach. Since I can remember I’ve always woken up to the smell of the salty ocean. My favorite smell in the world. Whatever season of the year it was I always ended up walking on the beach almost daily. I would run down to the beach in the winter and collect seashells to decorate fairy gardens and we would fill buckets with clay in a little ancient cave at the beach and make figures and let them dry in the sun. They have always called me “la sirenita” the little mermaid bc I wouldn’t get out of the ocean… Not even when my skin was wrinkly and almost blue haha! It’s part of me and there’s no place o feel more at home than sitting at a beach. Whenever someone can’t find me they know I’ll be at “El buzo” sitting inside a piece of a castle that been on the beach for hundreds of years and I’ll be just staring at the ocean almost hypnotized as if I was waiting for something. Saludos de una sirena Española 😉 xo

  7. The sea is such a powerful source of inspiration – always changing ever exciting and full of energy that can’t be harnessed. PS I owe so much to Tara’s relaxed style encouraging me on a new journey through creativity. The artist’s community online is such a supportive place 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing that Maggie!! I also find Tara so inspiring and I know she will bring just as much inspiration as a featured artists in Draw Deeper Into Nature too!

  8. We have a pond on our property surrounded by cattails and marsh grasses at one end and next to a wildflower filled field. This would be a lovely place to try to soften and paint the landscape.

  9. Such a poetic way of working! It seems it can be both playful and also take you into deep and insightful new realms. ” the inspiration isn’t always a straight line from subject to creation” – this is going in my journal as a reminder to trust the process. Thank you Tara!

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