Donna Leavitt ‘s artwork focuses on the natural world. Enjoy her exquisite attention to detail, and be sure to visit her website for more.
I have always drawn. It all began when I was a little girl and my father worked for a paper company. He would bring home wonderful invoice tablets that were blank on one side and I was told how helpful I was being when I kept busy with those tablets and my pencils.The habit took hold!
I graduated from college with a BFA and went into retail advertising for some years. Then I wanted to focus more on my fine art background and looked for ways to express what I was feeling. Initially I worked with cloth, fibers and embroidering threads, using these materials for composing ideas from nature. These were floral images and studies of insects and reptiles using the linear form that threads can create.
Etching became the next area of exploration and I loved the labor of it all. The ability to go into great detail with line and texture, working and reworking. Lithography also helped my focus to become even more linear. From that my work evolved into working with colored pencils and, finally, into graphite. All very meditative, too.
I have a great passion for trees and began to focus on them as subjects for my work some years ago. They are such magnificent beings with wonderful stories to visually unfold. They affect us in so many ways and are so vital to our well-being both collectively and individually. I am a true tree-hugger.
From 2006 to 2008 I served in the Peace Corps in Macedonia. While there, I continued to photograph trees that I was encountering and wanted to use as subjects for my art. Oak trees from old forests to big poplars growing as wind breaks were catching my eye. The thing was that any art I did while in the Peace Corps would have to be small enough to be put in a suitcase at the end of service!
It was then that the idea developed of using multiple pieces of paper to enable me to make large works that could be easily gathered up and carried home. And this is what I do from photographs I have taken (and continue to take) from my travels in various parts of the world – from Macedonia to my own backyard!
First I decide on size as that is a big factor in this kind of presentation and whether the image is horizontal or vertical. Then I transfer the ideas in my photos into grids that correspond to the number of papers I am using. Keeping the finished format slightly irregular, to me, adds further interest. The papers are only attached to their mounting at their top, leaving them free to move or slightly curl.
This technique also allows me to go into great detail to show form through the use of shadow and texture. I want to bring the viewer into close examination and not let him or her escape with a glance!