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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leit motif

Fiona's art is like  puzzle 
where you find the picture 
in each brick you put on the table
Betty Tureaud
Ask Fiona Leitner what her pictures 'are', and she'll probably say something cryptic, like 'it's a square'. She's not being funny; unlike those dullards who paste a five-paragraph 'explanatory' notecard to their oeuvres, she realizes that the  true experience of art is a lot like the experience of a good meal. You need to be left to sample and digest it on your own, without the cook hanging over you, describing what he was thinking about while he diced the chives.  It's your meal now, and a yummy one at that. 
She's a graphic artist in RL, and also an excellent cook. Fiona saw other people making art and selling it in shows, and thought it would be a fun way to make a little cash by making something people can enjoy.  This one makes me think of Michelangelo through a blender: a sort of Sistine Chapel Smoothie.
A week ago today
the Praka gallery re-opened with artwork by Fiona (seen here through the gallery's stained glass windows) alongside lovely canvasses by Kira Westland and Dulcis Taurog. Mankind Tracer sang from 12.00-2.00pm. I asked gallery co-owner Pray Xonfor what he likes about Fiona's art.
Pray Xonfor: Fiona's scenes remind me of dreams. Moment upon beautiful moment, blended together into a lush landscape of thought-provoking surrealism.

Fiona's a fan of Italian and Indonesian cuisine and that love of mixing it up comes across in her work. At first glance, these pictures at Studio 33 appear to be oil or acrylic, as in imported RL canvasses, but no, this is all digital - she forms the base material and then cooks it in Photoshop until she's prepared a piece of  'eye candy'.

Fiona Leitner: Let me put it this way. I take my work seriously, and me? Well, I am just me an idiot - sometimes I am a dreamer. My best moments with customers when they start telling what they see. I always say my work has no meaning than to please.  There is a darkness to many of the pictures, but it's not negative; rather, it's just the counterpart of your light side. That happens when you open yourself up.

Her top three suggestions for surviving the art scene in Second Life?
Fiona Leitner: No idea: maybe, don't go to openings, don't look at other art, and work hard.
She's only partly serious. It's clear from her conversation that she values the artistic community, is a huge fan of littleone Aries, and admires Chrome Underwood and Filthy Fluno. Fiona was delighted when Kicca Igaly dropped at her Showroom as we were talking.

Kicca Igaly: I saw your art at luciella Lutrova's Modern Art gallery and I came to see the other works. I love how you use color and I loved the composition of the 4 seasons. You are a sunny person!
Fiona Leitner: I seem to think colorful. I try to have little stress - that makes me happy!

The stress-busting benefits of making canvasses is pretty powerful. Her output ranges from five to as many as thirty new pictures in a month, depending on other commitments. Her impressive canvasses are usually huge - the kind of dimensions that would be logistical head-scratchers in the real world. No such worries in virtual reality. Plus - her studio is always clean! So many pictures, you have to wonder how she keeps it fresh and original.
 Fiona Leitner: I don't have a problem with inspiration, but I do have my RL work to do. So sometimes I keep a low profile. 
Twisted Prims

Occasionally she makes her base, à la Sledge Roffo, from photos taken in SL - in this case, using twisted prims. Experimentation is key. Some come out resembling faces, although she's quick to say none of her works are portraits - the 'sucky mouth' is purely coincidental.
 On a cold day, these woolly looking ones are particularly warm and welcome. I wondered about her best and worst experiences on the art circuit.
 Fiona Leitner: My best opening? I'd have to say my first at Pirats, because I was so new to it and it was busy and people loved it and sold 8! I was so made up! It is wonderful what Merlina and the team do here,  they make SL 3 times better. I think LL should support them a lot more, but they are too cheap... sheesh give them 2 SIMS! it would cost them nothing! For my worst experience - you know, I can't think of one, I really can't. Sometimes I sold nothing, but the show was great. The worst part is when you have to be nice to everyone and have 8 IMs going on, but then everyone says nice things, and you have to be nice back, and I want to, too - it's just exhausting, draining! 
The paintings are distinguished by serial numbers. Very few have names. We took a look at these exceptions, scattered around her Meadow Blossom Showroom. This muscly one is The Grinner.
 Fiona Leitner:  I have it printed at 140x140cm looks so good :-)

This patchwork is MSG My Sweet and Gorgeous.
 Fiona Leitner: I had to make one at the last moment for my 1st Pirats show  for a weird little wall they had. My then SL girlfriend came over as I was doing it, and I said  it's called after you,  but it wasn't,  then I just gave it the name in that moment. Somehow it reflected my love for her, though.  This one is  my dream garden. That's where I want to live!

The next one looked like the whorls of a fingerprint, or an isometric map.
Fiona Leitner: It's called Avatar, because I saw the poster of that film. 

At the next canvas, she asked me what I saw.
Thirza Ember: Orange peel first, then ice, then maybe crab shell, and rock salt. 
 Fiona Leitner: Do you see tequila too? 
 Thirza Ember: Yes, why not? I want that for my kitchen!  
Fiona's branched out into the RL prints market, so I can really have it, by going to the Fine Arts America website. That's a huge step forward. Does she have more plans for the future of her art career?
 Fiona Leitner: I want to round up this period with a website and a book or good portfolio. I could see this as a complete project: my life as an avatar.  I would love to have open sim on my own computer - no lag! - and build away, trying some weird architecture. It's just so hard to install on a mac. But it would be great to experiment,  then, when you're ready - take it here to SL. I like to build, and  am busy with Betty in Inworldz, on her Tower of Babel project. I built my gallery, and I love experimenting a bit, but I like to stay 2D.  I like to shape things my way best, and then have friends for friendships. Things easily get muddy when you collaborate. I must say  they built a great structure at Pirats half a year ago. That was a wow thing, I really really liked that.
Drop by the  Praka to see Fiona alongside Dulcis, and Kira  - the show's on till the end of the month!

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