Selective Focus: Zoey Cohen Leege

Next Thursday at Red Herring Lounge, Zoey Cohen Leege has an opening reception for her paintings related to Lake Superior. She has a background in art and art history, but only over the past year has begun painting regularly.

ZCL: My paintings are acrylic on masonite. I like having a smooth surface to paint on; canvas feels too rough. Also, masonite is affordable. Each painting is based on a photo I took of Lake Superior over the last year, combined with something I find interesting, beautiful or just strange. I have an undergraduate degree in art history, so elements from ancient art and architecture are a common theme. I also love antiques, archeology and am fascinated by secret societies.

Astolabe, Acrylic on Masonite, 24″ x 24″

I started painting last fall, while taking a painting class taught by Adam Swanson. I have wanted to start painting for about 20 years. In the past, I got as far as stretching a canvas and starting a few paintings that I never finished. I have done some illustrations for posters over the years, but had not been able to get in the habit of making art a part of my life on a regular basis. Now I try to start a new painting every week. Having a routine helps.

Lock Superior, Acrylic on Masonite, 17″ x 24″

Up until this past month, I have been working full time, so making time to paint has been my biggest challenge. There are times where I just want to read or watch TV with the rest of the family but I go paint instead. Also, I don’t have much of a studio space. I paint in corner of the basement and it gets pretty cold down there. I have to turn on a space heater about an hour before I want go paint during the winter.

Superior Twins, Acrylic on Masonite, 12″ x 24″

Despite these challenges, I find if I can just start working on a painting, I get so absorbed in my work that I don’t notice time passing. On a good day, I can start a painting in the morning and finish it in the evening.

Harbell, Acrylic on Masonite, 24″ x 24″

Also, I have noticed that since I started painting, I look at my surroundings differently. I am always looking for potential painting subjects and have become a bit obsessed with taking pictures.

Park Pointer, Acrylic on Masonite, 18″ x 24″

My paintings will be at the Red Herring for the month of September. There is an opening reception on Sept. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. I also post my photos and paintings on Instagram @mythropologist.

Over the next year, I will be able to devote more time to painting as I will be working part time, instead of full time. I hope this will allow me to have more exhibitions and pursue training to increase my skills. At the very least, I plan to stick to my routine of starting (and hopefully finishing) a new painting every week.

Opening at the Red Herring

Storm Temple, Acrylic on Masonite, 12″ x 24″

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