Graphic of PH:AIZ Zine series. Leanne's artwork is overlapped by SKETCH'S project home logo on the centre left, and the text: "Welcome to sketch: You are here: " surrounded by a linear blue print map of the sketch studios.
#ArtTransforms April 13, 2021

PH:AIZ: In Conversation with Leanne Ferreira

By Jess De Vitt

Leanne Ferreira is a Trinidadian artist and coffee lover who works in traditional mediums including watercolour, ink and acrylic, as well as with ceramics. Leanne has always had an interest in art, but it was only recently that she realized she’s happiest when creating. And that was when painting transformed from being a hobby into an outlet to express her inner-self.

Leanne paints colourful portraits of women, especially women of colour, with positive affirmations. Inspired by quotes she finds online, Leanne’s inspiration comes from words that empower people to express their inner-self and true beauty…

You can find more of Leanne’s work on Instagram at @colour_me_golden.

Recently Leanne spoke with Jess DeVitt, SKETCH’s Visual Arts Associate, to speak about their artistic practice as it relates to nature and space. Continue reading to learn more about Leanne’s work and inspirations.

PH:AIZ is a series of SKETCH artist interviews based on their experiences in the SKETCH art studios. The interviews, led by Associate Artists Tyler J. Sloane and Jess De Vitt, hope to explore the different relationship artists have to the space and community at 180 Shaw Street.

These interviews exist in text as well as in a downloadable Zine that can be printed from home or viewed digitally!

Print Leanne's Zine View Leanne's Zine

Jess: Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to SKETCH, and what your first few visits were like?

Leanne: Okay, it was actually amazing. I mean, everyone was friendly. They keep encouraging you to try different stuff in the different studios. Before I came to SKETCH, I was actually looking for a place away from home where I can just do some art classes, have studio space, just be me. And I’m not sure if I found it, or if my friend recommended it to me. He wanted to do screen printing and I wanted to do art, and SKETCH offered both those classes. And he just kept pushing it back, and eventually I just found myself in SKETCH one day.

A selfie of artist Leanne Ferreira. She wears glasses, and is captured in front of a neutral leaf-patterned background.

Leanne Ferreira

Jess: That’s awesome. Do you want to talk about your art practice and what kind of  tools you like to use?

Leanne: OK well, my first love in art is watercolour and ink. I love doing little illustrations and painting people. As I said, when I started SKETCH most of the classes were using acrylics. So I started using that, I painted a lot of portraits. I use pastels. And I recently started painting murals too.

A watercolour of a smiling Black woman with vitiligo. She has yellow flowers in her hair and a yellow flower on her grey shirt. She is wearing blue earrings and a blue choker.

Flower Girl – A watercolour and ink illustration

Jess: I remember seeing, they’re amazing. Your use of colour is just so vibrant.

Leanne: I just love bright colours.

Jess: I love it. Can you talk a little bit about some of your artistic inspirations or muses?

Leanne: I think my muse was my high school art teacher, Mrs. Judith Chin Fatt-Rampersad. She’s the one who actually encouraged me to continue art. I wasn’t good at it, but it was something that I loved doing. It was my form of therapy. And then I like looking through the Internet to find phrases or inspirational quotes, and I paint depending on which quotes speak to me at that time.

Jess: Are there any specific Instagram accounts, or any themes that you like to approach in your work?

Leanne: Well, any pictures with nature and bright colours.

An acrylic painting of a grey mouse reading a blue book, sitting on top of a red mushroom house. The mouse has on a yellow dress. In the background there is a line of clothing, surrounded by green leaves.

Wakati Wangu II – Acrylic on Canvas 

Jess: I love that. What sort of arts have you made at SKETCH specifically and are exploring now more broadly?

Leanne: Okay, so besides painting I also did ceramics at SKETCH with David. It was actually fun. It was a good experience to play with the clay and learn all the different processes. I made a lot of trinket trays, I shared them with my family. I also made jewellery, even napkin rings- I think I still have some at home, well it’s all over the place. I did a lot of portraits. What else? I even tried screen printing! That was fun too, and I printed my own T-shirts.

 

A ceramic dish in the shape of a sleeping fox. The fox is brown, with white accents on its tale, eyes and ears. The dish is captured in a ceramics studio, with a paintbrush and more clay in the background.

Trinket trays and earring pieces being underglaze at the SKETCH studio

Jess: Just like all around different disciplines, that’s great. Has your art ever been featured in any way?
Leanne: Yes, I think the first place my art was featured was in one of SKETCH’s markets. And I think you bought a piece?

Jess: I remember, I have them here! They’re so beautiful. I remember that day because we put the pieces up together.
Leanne: Yeah. I also did a program with Next Generation Arts, a Batik Workshop. It was displayed in a community complex. And last year in Trinidad, the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago had an exhibition which was done during COVID. And I actually entered two of my pieces there.

Jess: That’s so good. Is there any way we can see those exhibitions? Do they exist online?

Leanne: Yes it was online, but it’s on a wall behind me.

Jess: Those two pieces? Those are beautiful. So how has the art space at SKETCH helped you and your art practice?

A watercolour of a girl with purple hair and purple eyes, a white choker and earrings, and a starry purple top. Her blush has the outline of constellations. On top of the painting there are two 3D purple butterflies, and on the left side of the painting there is text saying "I'm In Space With You".

I’m in Space with You – A watercolour illustration

Leanne: At home, I literally had no place to actually do any paintings. Especially big pieces. And at SKETCH it was just more convenient to spread out everything and do my work. I could leave the stuff there, and come back to complete it. And for ceramics, that’s the only place I could have made it.

Jess: Ceramics use such specific tools, for sure. What studio do you love to work in, but you don’t normally use that space as much?

Leanne: I would say the screen printing studio space. Because I’ll just spend 10 minutes one day, 5 minutes the next day. It takes a long time just to complete one whole screen.

Jess: It’s a very arduous process.

Leanne: Yes, for sure. And actually, even with ceramics I would have loved a longer time because it takes a long time just to do one piece and it’s just more time consuming. But I would have loved to work with ceramics more as well.
Jess: I remember the rings that you were talking about, the napkin rings. So what do you want people to notice in your work, or be curious about when they’re witnessing your pieces or digesting them?

Three ceramic napkin rings in the shape of Dalmatian dogs

Cute Puppies Napkin Rings on display at a SKETCH market

Leanne: Just to be themselves. It’s just as simple as that. And to be inspired as well. I like to use bright colours, so I want people to get a good, happy vibe.

Jess: Oh I can see that, for sure. And this question feeds into that as well, but it looks a little bit more into the future as well. When you are an ancestor, what do you want your descendants to know?

Leanne: Don’t be afraid to try new stuff and to express yourself. Just don’t be afraid, because you don’t know what can happen, what opportunities may come your way, and the right people will find you.

A watercolour painting of a black girl with black hair and blue eyes. In her hair there are two gold hair pieces, and she is wearing gold earrings and a choker. She is wearing a yellow shirt and blue overalls. In the background there are purple clouds.

Azure – One of the pieces entered in the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago Covid exhibition

Jess: That’s beautiful, I love that. And then finally, I really love your art practice and I  wonder where you think your art will exist in the future when you’re growing older or after the time you’re on Earth? Where do you think your art will exist?

Leanne: Okay, hopefully in books. So I love illustration, although it’s not my main work. Hopefully one day I would illustrate a children’s book, so it will be there. And then I painted a mural for a church, so hopefully I’ll continue that as well and my work will be all over.

Jess: Yes! All over the walls.

Leanne: All over.

At the top is a black and white illustration of a shark on the left, and a fish on the right. Behind the two animals is a black background, with a story written in white pen about a dinner they shared together. The illustration is captured on top of grass, above two pens laid below it.

The Flattered Flying Fish -An Ink illustration

Jess: I love that. I remember when you were showing me the process of your mural, it was so beautiful to see you. I like how you take inspiration from nature as well. Is there anything about that inspiration with nature that first brought you into art? And if so, what was it in nature?

Leanne: Well, you know Trinidad is just full of trees, flowers, and grass. I’ve literally grown up around flowers, so that’s kind of been a part in it. I just like to see it wherever I go. So yeah, I try to put it in almost every piece that I make.

In the bottom right corner is a giraffe sitting on top of a log. Flying above the giraffe is a white dove. The background is made up of white and yellow flowers, embedded within greenery from trees and bushes.

A Garden themed Mural painted by Leanne

Jess: To see them blossom.

Leanne: Yes, exactly. I love it.

Project Home is SKETCH’s capital campaign to purchase its legacy space in the Queen West neighbourhood. By helping SKETCH secure its studios, you ensure that young artists have continued access to space and free-programming to develop their practice and explore their creativity. Learn more about how you can support here.