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Commissioned art of farms is a throwback to simpler times

Posted on 21 April 2021 by Ryan Dahlman

One of the commissioned works of farm art.

As much as technology has changed and in many ways improved life for those in rural areas and agriculture, there is always a nostalgia and yearning for the golden age of farming and agriculture. 

One person from Medicine Hat is getting a full understanding of this because of her gift.

Leanne Easton, a library assistant at the Medicine Hat Public Library, is part of a team of talented individuals who take part in making the library not only an educational but a social and cultural hub in the southeast and Medicine Hat. Because of that there are a lot of different types of people who make their way to the library, such as those from rural areas who are familiar with her painting and drawing prowess.

She believes there is a strong tie to history for those who live out in the countryside and farm. Ironically it is through modern social media methods do they fund Easton.

“I believe there’s an interest in doing farm drawings and paintings because people are connected to their family heritage. They’ll maybe have fonder feelings towards a drawing of the family farm on the wall instead of a canvas they bought from Homesense,” explains Easton. “It’s also hard to get photo reproductions of these aerial photos due to copyright restrictions, so it can be easier to get an artist’s interpretation of it.

Since I like creating things from life, a lot of my art that you’ll see online is based on local places. People have found me through searching local hashtags like “#medicinehat” and have messaged me to ask if I’d do commissions. Like any creative, I appreciate being paid for my work and say yes to these requests as time allows. I’ve been asked to draw people’s homes in pen and watercolor, which led to a request to draw an aerial photo taken of a family farm as well. I’m always up for trying new things because it helps me develop my skills. The client was happy with the end result. It’s hard to give a time frame on a piece because every situation is different. I’m fortunate to have clients that understand I also have a full time job, so they are wonderfully patient.”

Easton creates two different kinds of art. You’ll more frequently see pen and watercolor illustrations/sketches that she makes. She uses photos or real life as reference and interpret what she sees in a “more illustrative style.” She says she makes more realistic acrylic paintings which take a lot longer to do because of the nature of the medium. 

“Sketches and illustrations are great ways to work on my skills of creating things from life, make artwork quickly, and not need to worry as much about perfection in what I’m making,” explains Easton. “Painting is also rewarding because it takes a lot of time and discipline to fully finish a piece. I haven’t thought much about how to categorize what I make, but the most accurate thing would probably be “slice of life” art. This is art that showcases aspects of people’s lives, including the mundane and glorious moments of it. I seem to enjoy creating things based on my own life experiences, or things that are important to other people in their own lives.”

Easton has always enjoyed making art, but she started to take art seriously when she was 14. She states she mostly just tried to copy portraits to work on her realism skills and get a handle on making basic shapes accurately. 

During that time, she encouraged herself to develop artistically. That being said, I of course had encouragement from family and friends, along with a great art teacher in high school.

“I don’t believe that you should rely on encouragement from other people to continue with a hobby. Instead, you should want to do it for yourself,” she adds. 

She works hard on her craft. As a library assistant at MHPL, this has her at the public service desks, help with some of the collections (items like graphic novels and CDs), work on some programs, and do other jobs as the library needs. She feels blessed to work there.

“The staff at the library are great, but I make sure to try and keep my creative work and my library work separately unless it’s for a program, like sketching. Having a great full time job leaves me with creative and mental energy at the end of the day to work on my artwork in my off hours,” she adds. “I would have a harder time enjoying what I do if I had to rely on my art to pay the bills.”

One of the commissioned works of farm art.

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