Self care, Informal mindfulness 3 minute read

5 minutes with illustrator, Emma Leonard

Emma Leonard is a multi-disciplinary Australian artist and illustrator specialising in Fashion and Beauty. Inspired by nature, fashion and literature, Emma combines traditional media with digital techniques to create carefully considered renderings of delicate femininity, fragility and ethereal beauty. While Emma is based in Melbourne, she has exhibited her work both locally and internationally, including two solo exhibitions.

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Tell us a bit about yourself...

My name is Emma Leonard, I am a Melbourne based illustrator with a fascination for botanical illustration and portraiture. My work is usually feminine and delicate, I love exploring tiny details like wisps of hair and flower petals, but I am also working on loosening up and making my artwork more fun by experimenting with bright colour palettes and geometric patterns.

Were you always a creative person?

I think I have always been a creative person, for as long as I can remember I have had such a passion for all art forms and I feel most at ease when keeping my hands busy. Whether it’s drawing, painting, sewing, baking, I just feel better when I’m making something from nothing.

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How familiar are you with mindfulness?

Whilst by no means an expert, I am familiar with the basic concepts of mindfulness such as staying curious and open and trying to approach each moment without judgement.

Describe your creative process?

My creative process is usually quite methodical. I’m a big list maker, so I start by making a list of thoughts and ideas that might be relevant before creating a page or two of tiny rough sketches which are really just loose shapes that would make sense to nobody but me. Then I do some research and collect reference images to inspire pattern choices or colour combinations. Next, I create one or two more detailed black and white sketches before moving on to the finished coloured artwork, which is usually completed digitally on an iPad Pro.

How do you get in ‘flow’ (aka in the zone)? What does it feel like?

Preparation helps me achieve flow. A clean and tidy workspace is imperative for me to achieve my creative goals, I also like it to be quiet and begin each creative session with a plan of what I hope to achieve.

When I am in the zone I feel calm, capable and at ease. I’m not worried about what will come next, just enjoying each moment as it happens, taking each challenge as it comes.

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What inspires you and your art?

I try to be very observant and take inspiration from all I see around me, a dress I couldn’t stop thinking about, a flower that took my breath away while I was out walking my dog, a tile pattern on the floor of my favourite cafe. I make a mental note of all those small but beautiful everyday moments and wait for the opportunity to include them in a piece of art.

You say you’re inspired by nature - what are some other ways you connect with nature?

When I am feeling on edge or tense or lacking in inspiration, I like to go for a run, a hike or just explore with my children, they help me slow down and always seem to notice things I
might have otherwise missed.

During one adventure at our local creek, my son spotted the most enormous pile of spitfire caterpillars shuffling along together, which I otherwise would have walked straight by, I think it’s only a matter of time before a little spitfire turns up in one of my pieces!

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What inspired this tutorial and activity you have created?

I wanted to create a project that was simple and approachable for all skill levels but could be applied in a few different ways and I have a real fascination with patterns at the moment. On my studio wall, I have a preserved Giant Swallowtail butterfly and thought how great it would be to make a sea of patterned moths and butterflies, and it would be the perfect opportunity to make use of all that beautiful colour in the BIC Intensity range!

How do you think people can start to use creativity to support their mind?

I know I always feel better when I have a creative project on the go that I can put down and come back to when I have a spare moment. I especially like things that are simple and
repetitive, like sewing or drawing a pattern.

I also believe when I force my mind to solve problems in a low-risk situation like when I’m working on a drawing or painting, helps me to feel more comfortable with looking for a creative solution to higher stakes problems in my day-to-day life.

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Support your mind with creativity and find more activities on our website. Don't forget to share and tag us! #SMILINGMINDCREATES

Download the template for Emma's activity HERE
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Smiling Mind

Written by Smiling Mind

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