Featured Artist Interview – Leah Jay

Leah JayLeah Jay




Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter, etc.
I like glue.  I’m a bit of an adhesives expert, actually.  I tend to use glue a lot because I’m never satisfied with using just one kind of thing to make art.  Paint? Yes. Paper? Little pieces of wood? Yes. Yarn? Yes.  Stitch something and then glue it to something else and then glue that thing to another thing? Sure, why not?  Whatever my art ends up being made of, it can be described as having lots of warmth, color, and childlike energy.

Leah Jay Art

What are your biggest challenges in creating art?
Lately, my health has been a huge barrier to my practice. A Spontaneous Spinal CSF Leak put me in bed and in the hospital back and forth.  I was completely laid up, out of my studio for 8 months of this year total.  It is still a challenge getting over various repercussions from treatment. (see http://spinalcsfleak.org/ for more information on this under-diagnosed, complex condition)

What is a day of working like in your studio/creative space?  Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
I listen to radio, podcasts, and clips on YouTube while I work. I work on multiple projects at once, so I might be painting, collaging, stitching, sculpting, and needle-felting all in one day.  I also take a lot of breaks and enjoy creative writing and social media.  I have a short attention span, and boredom is the enemy, so anything I can do to stay engaged, interested, and refreshed is good.

When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, look at or do to help find that idea or fuel your work?
That is a very good question.  I have a special box that is labeled “Creativity Boost Box”.  I’m serious.  Here it is.

Here’s what is inside it:  Notes.  Sticky notes.  Pieces of graph paper.  Greeting cards.  A stack of motivational sayings.  Doodles.  Teeny tiny books.  List of proverbs.  Small unfinished watercolors.  Stuff from ten years ago.  Stuff from 20 years ago.  Stuff from a year ago.  More stuff.  More notes.  Another doodle… you get the idea.  Start your own Creativity Boost Box today and who knows, it might be useful to you down the road.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve been a Buddhist for over 15? 20? Years now and I suppose it’s not as “fringe” a spiritual path as it used to be back in the day, particularly not in the SF Bay Area.  But, it’s still a bit weird.  It’s either a great topic to bring up at a party or a terrible one, depending on the party.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative careers?
FOLLOW THE JOY.  What I mean by this is, whatever you’re doing, if you’re enjoying it, it’s right.  If you’re not enjoying it, it’s not quite right so don’t go that way.  I do not mean, don’t work hard!  What I DO mean is, explore, try things, and if there’s a little part that brings you a little surge of joy, follow that, and see where it takes you.  It leads to more joy.  That’s your compass.  That’s the right path.  And when you go down that path, other people can see it and they will smile and feel the joy right along with you.  That painting, that sculpture, that piece you made with joy will be better because of it.  And every time you repeat it, you will get better and better.  It gets easier and easier. You will be asked to go down that path again and again, and the best part is – you would do it willingly, anyway, because it isn’t work.  It’s doesn’t feel like working hard anymore.  It’s playing.  It’s joy.  That’s where it’s at!

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3 years ago

Great to hear about your creative process and spirit Leah!

Andy Broer
3 years ago

Your fight to health is inspiring if depressing to have to deal with. Keep pressing forward and keep the faith.

3 years ago

Leah, thank you for the art and the wonderful insightful interview. Love the box idea.