Leah Kiser

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I am an oil painter specializing in the meticulous rendering of anthropomorphized creatures. I carefully balance colorful humor and whimsy with realism and the rich organic colors and textures of nature. 

As a quiet child with a veterinarian father, I gained an early appreciation for the personality of animals.  Like them, I was not great with words, and I liked the idea that we could get to know one another without them. I also loved to draw. Drawing was another way to understand and appreciate subtle quiet things in the natural world. It was a way of seeking beyond words for a more authentic reality - a way of truth seeking.

I grew up in southeastern Minnesota and graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a BFA in Art and Philosophy (or as my roommate would joke: I went to college to learn to "think and express myself"). In the years after college I continued to observe and create, but with a new family it was hard to make art my profession. In 2014 I decided to get back to it. As an exercise, I illustrated a children’s book that my brother wrote featuring a ping pong playing musk ox.  It was fun and challenging to combine my drawing experience with imagined ideas. It had a less serious feeling that I really enjoyed. After the book, I discovered my next subject when my daughter dressed her velociraptor toy in a Barbie tutu.  The idea was so funny to me, and I found both the dinosaur and tutu visually compelling.  After completing a few small drawings I decided to try making bigger oil paintings. I fell in love with the large scale and vibrance of oil paint! I completed a whole series of dinosaurs in dresses and later moved onto other creatures doing silly things. 

I find that I prefer to paint ideas that make me laugh out loud.  Painting with humor is an unexpectedly fulfilling experience.  It is a way for my personality to extend beyond my bland introverted exterior, and the paintings bring joy to many people!  What is more fulfilling than that? 

I currently live in Casa Grande, Arizona.  My art community is very important to me. I am the president of the Casa Grande Art Association and founder of the Casa Grande Life Drawing group. I am still learning to be a better painter, and the talented artists in my community offer great support and advice.  They have given me a lot, and I try to give back. In 2018 I spearheaded a project with the Art Association to improve the exterior of the Casa Grande Art Museum. I designed a steel and stained glass fence that is in construction at Central Arizona College and Adventures in Stained Glass. The fence will surround the Casa Grande Art Museum when completed in the next year. We also helped raise over $15,000 in private donations and collaborated with member artists to complete several community oriented beautification projects at the museum. I’m just getting started in my career, and I’m excited to keep pushing my artistic abilities both personally and collaboratively.