Leah Nadeau is a fine abstract artist in Seattle creating "one-of-a-kind mid-century modern inspired artwork."
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Leah Nadeau: I've been creating since I was in college. It was 2010 when I took my first art history class. It focused on art of the late 20th and early 21st century, and I fell in love with the abstract expressionist movement, and it made me purchase art supplies. It wasn't until 2015 when I started seriously painting every day, and haven't stopped.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I work in multiple series which encompass my signature style and distinctive marks. I make a point to always start with black paint as a bottom layer on any substrate. As a starting point, the wild black marks remind me to continue to be bold as I create. After incorporating layers of bright colors, I work in broad brushstrokes and slowly add-in, as a final layer, the clear, intentional linework for which I'm known for. My art is strongly influenced by industry, architecture, and design. My multiple bodies of work each render this influence in a unique way.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
The most consistent, quiet influence on my art has been my background as a film student. In graduate school, I was introduced to German Expressionist films such as "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "Metropolis." The intentional distortion in visual stimuli, high contrast, and the emphasis on what can and cannot be seen became a catalyst in my work which remains identifiable to this day. I'm also inspired by architecture, more specifically the architecture I experienced while visiting Prague for a week in 2006, which led to the first time I purchased a sketchbook. Additionally, Aerial imagery, real and imagined, influences my work. My continued fascination with linework and shapes can be directly attributed to sitting in the window seat on planes as a child and looking out at the vast marks on the earth from above. This is especially evident in my "Cityscape and Landscape" inspired series of work. All of these influences come together to make my one-of-a-kind painting style.
Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
Food, I love finding new restaurants to try!
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
I made a collection in late 2021 dedicated to my late grandfather. It's called the Irving Collection because Irving was his middle name. All of the pieces are very special to me in the collection because my grandpa and I were extremely close. I miss him and think of him every single day. He was not your average grandpa. He texted, video chatted (but hated video chatting!), loved playing games on his computer, and never shied away from telling you his opinion. He was truly a one of a kind, so it made sense that I made a collection of paintings in his honor. Stardust Chords is one of the paintings in the collection that I truly do not want to sell, but it is available. It's just one of those paintings I could never replicate even if I tried.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
My education as a film student definitely influenced me and gave me a unique perspective: the ability to view the world from the outside in, as if watching characters interact in the storyscapes I create with paint. Years of painting have only clarified this vision. Also, my travels to Europe in 2006 and seeing the old world architecture inspired me so much that I still make art inspired by what I saw there.
If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I'm currently working on a commission painting for a family in North Carolina. Although I'm based in Seattle, I have work installed in businesses and homes worldwide. Making custom paintings for my client's homes is my favorite challenge.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
I take my coffee with cream and lavender syrup. Yum!
About 'Artist of the Week': Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.