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Creative Art Class DVD Confident Color DVD Confident Color Exploring Color Exploring Color Workshop New Creative Artist New Creative Collage Techniques Paper Collage Techniques DVD Collage Art Techniques DVD

To Make a Long Story Short...

My life as an artist began in a suburban YMCA. Unlike Georgia O'Keeffe, I didn't always know I'd be an artist. Like most kids, I liked to draw and paint, but I spent more time with my nose in a book.
Nita Leland photo
1970--Teaching myself to paint
So I was at a loss what do to with a set of watercolor paints my husband gave me for my birthday in 1970, especially when I realized I didn't even know what a wash was. Well, actually, I thought I knew a lot about that, raising four kids, but this was altogether different! So I signed the kids up for swimming lessons at the YMCA, where there was an adult watercolor class going on at the same time. From the first brush stroke I knew this was something I had to do. It wasn't easy fitting classes, workshops and painting in between car pools, but somehow I managed. Early on, I discovered that teaching watercolor painting was a great way to learn and, just incidentally, to help pay for materials.

My instructor said, "If the values are right, the color doesn't matter." But color turned out to be my passion, and after several years of studying color, I wrote my first book, Exploring Color (1985), which I revised and updated as Exploring Color, Revised (1998)). I gathered together many of the lessons I used in my classes, researched creativity, and wrote The Creative Artist (1990), which I expanded and revised as The New Creative Artist (2006). In 1994 I collaborated with Virginia Lee Williams on Creative Collage Techniques, which stayed in print for 17 years. I recently revised and updated the book, which was published as New Creative Collage Techniques (2011). All of these books, in addition to Confident Color (2008) were published by North Light Books and became bestsellers in art instruction. In 2000 I self-published Exploring Color Coloring Book, a hands-on color journal and reference book for artists.

Eventually I invented a color wheel and began teaching national workshops, writing magazine articles and making DVDs: Paper Collage Techniques and Creating Confident Color . You cannot imagine how much fun this is, meeting so many interesting people in different places. How did all this came about: what turned a stay-at-home mom into an artist, author and traveling workshop teacher? Not to mention a performer on DVDs! Well, just about anything can happen--if you make it happen.

Artist's Statement

The changing light of day and the moods it creates are the foundations of my watercolors. My paintings usually start with a color idea, then evolve into compositions in which color is the primary subject. To me, art is a synthesis of my personal feelings, the subject or colors that inspire me and my materials and techniques. Serenity and simplicity are my primary goals. My goal as a teacher and author is to help other artists achieve their goals. My primary focus is on my students, providing a fun and comfortable environment where they can advance their individual creative skills within an energetic community of artists.

Please visit my watercolor gallery and collage gallery to see my art.

Writing an Artist's Statement


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