Check it out, the Exclusive Interview with Leanne Davies!

Leanne, welcome back to Carpazine! This time for a visit. The Nash the Slash cover is my favorite so far, how are things in And You Thought You Were Normal land?

We are still in production. We had an exciting re-creation shoot booked for early April, but then lockdown began. We had to put it on hold for now. However, we are still progressing, and we are excited about how things are coming along.

Carpazine asked you to select three works. You selected: Joni Mitchell, Buffy St. Marie, and producer Peaches which were all displayed at FemCan. Some of my favorites have been Cher, Super Dave, and Prince. How do you choose your subjects?

These three paintings were a part of my FemCan show last year at Never Apart in Montreal. The curator Michael Venus and I decided I would paint six female Canadian musicians. When I was very young, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Joni Mitchell were probably the first two musicians I recognized as Canadian. Peaches is one of my favourite musicians and is originally from Toronto. All three women are also practicing visual artists. 

My past subjects are usually notable personalities or artists from popular culture; many of them are musicians whose work I admire. I also have painted creative people I know or who are acquaintances.

These three are acrylic on panel. You also work on black velvet (which is so cool). Can you tell us about the different mediums you use?

I have always used acrylic paint because I like the fact that it dries quickly. I thin the paint and build it up in layers. I love how that process allows me to adjust the colour intensity. When I started painting in my teens, I used watercolour, and I still do sometimes for a change ever now and then. I tried acrylic on black velvet a few years back to challenge myself. In 2017, I participated in a Punk themed show at the Velveteria museum in L.A. It was fun! I like how velvet paintings kind of glow even in low light. 

Your work can sometimes have a 70’s vibe to them. Do you agree?

For sure, I grew up in the 70’s & 80’s. I might still be stuck there a bit, but I don't mind!

Your backgrounds tend to be a bit “trippy” and in these, the subjects have no bodies, is there something you are trying to convey with either or both?

Yes. Illustration and comics influence my style very much. I wanted the women to look like superheroes. You can find floating heads on comic book covers, vintage ads, movie posters and VHS boxes from the 80’s. It singles the character out in an intense way, makes them godlike, idols watching us from another realm, perhaps planning their next artistic accomplishment. That is what I wanted to convey. I think the trippy part has to do with my creative process. I enjoy getting lost in my work; patterns and saturated complementary colours help me to do that.

There are also neutral facial expressions, what emotions were you feeling when creating these? What emotions do you hope they elicit?

When I was painting, I was feeling the power and depth of their accomplishments in an industry that is complicated, very competitive, and often sexist. All of the subjects are teachers and activists of some nature. I believe it is evident in their music; however, their activism can be obscured sometimes by the cult of celebrity, or by the sheer talent they possess. I wanted to portray these women observing us, with honesty and without fear, as I imagine they do when they are creating. This series is
a celebration of their strength.