Patience Brewster’s Artists’s Appreciation Initiative: Q & A with Kiri Østergaard Leonard

I was recently contacted by a lovely woman named Marietta Gregg about this lovely initiative. In honor of Artist Appreciation Month (August) the team behind Patience Brewster wanted to reach out to the community and help people get to know artists better with a little fun Q&A:

1. As a child, do you recall a significant moment when you felt truly affected or inspired by any particular artwork or artist?
My mother kept me well-stocked with a smaller library of beautifully illustrated fairy tale books for children. I many many hours pouring over these books and studying the artwork in detail. I was particularly drawn to the one about Sleeping Beauty; there was this page where Sleeping Beauty was dressed in a gorgeous dress and running up the stairs to the tower in the castle. It was a watercolor illustration in pink, yellow and blue hues. I’m sure her being a princess also affected my liking for the book, as many girls I went through a severe case of the “princess-age”, haha.

Other than that I was madly in love with the Gnome stories, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet. He is still one of my favourite illustrators to this day.

Hi! #meettheartist

A video posted by Kiri Østergaard Leonard (@kirileonard) on

2. As an artist, what do you hope to convey with your work?
I’m still trying to find that out – I oft feel I am scattered all over the place. I really want to narrow my focus and ‘find my voice’. It’s there within the work already, I’ve just not narrowed in on it yet, but there’s a definite trace of folk, fairy tales and the struggles of adolescence as well as the innocence of childhood.

For a while I just wanted to make pretty things, but as I’ve gotten older that’s no longer enough. I want to say something too – just not sure what it is, yet.

Jørgen and Ragnhild Østergaard

My parents: Jørgen and Ragnhild Østergaard

3. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
The most memorable was when, after making it possible for me to move to the US to pursue art, my parents told me they were proud of me.

You have to understand I’m from a somewhat emotionally reluctant family, not stifled; just reluctant. There was (and is) always a lot of love in my family – but it more often than not went unspoken. It was the first time I remember hearing them say they were proud, I’m sure you can imagine what that meant and felt like.

I owe my parents a great deal, not only are they wonderful parents, but they sacrificed a great deal to make my dreams come true and for that I am ever grateful.

4. What is your dream project?
To write and illustrate a Middlegrade/YA novel named Vættekin; I have a rough layout for the story already and about a million ideas, it’s going to involve Baba Yaga, Changelings, trolls and old Scnadinavian folklore. I just need to sit down and actually get to it, but other projects keep coming up – urgh, isn’t it always like that?

5. What artists, of any medium, do you admire? (Famous or not!)
Norman Rockwell always takes my breath away, he was such a master of storytelling and technique. Brian Froud is another great inspiration, his art has so much soul to me. Tony Diterlizzi – he’s basically what I’d like to be. Jean Baptiste Monge is outstanding too, his characters always make me laugh. Claire Wendling masters line and personality like its nobody’s business. Steve Huston for the raw power in his work – there are so many! I could go on and on but I think we’ll stop here.

– Answers by Kiri Østergaard Leonard,
Illustrator

– Questions by Marietta Gregg,
Marketing Director at Patience Brewster

Links:
Patience Brewster Christmas Ornaments
Patience Brewster Halloween Ornaments
Gnomes by Rien Poortvliet

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Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Kiri Østergaard Leonard is an award winning illustrator and artist from Denmark, currently living in Austin, Texas. She enjoys working on projects within the fantasy and children's illustration genre.

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