|Article Author: Angie McKaig|
Anne Leuck Feldhaus creates a mix of contemporary folk and urban pop art by Angie McKaig
So you like dogs. Sure you do. You have the vet bills and sweaters and dog beds and toys and treats to prove it. You also like art. Something a little modern, a little folksy, and a whole lot of fun. What you don't have is a lot of ways to combine the two.
If this is you, you'll definitely appreciate the incredible art created by Anne Leuck Feldhaus. Her work is described as a mix of contemporary folk and urban pop art. Most pieces are acrylic on canvas, and they capture a whimsy about dogs that is simply irresistible. In addition to original paintings and prints, she also does commissioned work so you can have your favorite pampered puppy immortalized in this bright and colorful art.
We recently spoke to Anne to get the inside scoop.
pp: What made you decide to devote so much of your artistic time to painting animals??
alf: My dear dog, Izzy, and our cats Ollie and dearly departed Zoe. Since I did my first larger dog paintings in 2000 there has been a steady demand for custom pet portraits as well as my original canine works.
pp: What is your artistic background?
alf: I'm from a very small town in Wisconsin; the only art exhibits I ever saw were occasional shows at the local library and the kids' work that hung on the walls at school. But I always wanted to be "an ARTIST"! I spent hours drawing; often it was Snoopy and other comics from the newspaper, and models from the Sears catalog. My Nana (grandmother) was also very supportive of my art interest, she would take me to the art store when I visited her in South Bend, IN and she gave me many art books and supplies.
I went to college at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and was unsure of what direction to take, when my brother suddenly declared he was going to major in art - I thought, "I'm the one who wanted to be an artist - if he can do it, so can I!" I did take some of the early computer graphics classes that included digital paint programs; I believe that also helped me develop my color sense. Most of my time and classes was focused on figurative sculpture, metal and foundry work.
I did my first art fair in 1995. Every year I worked a little larger and finally started painting on canvas and wood instead of functional objects. I went full time with my business in 1998.
pp: How many years have you been painting dogs?
alf: I started working with dog imagery shortly after we got Izzy in 1995 but it all came full circle in the spring of 2000 as I was painting several canvases for a local show here in Chicago. Dog images just kept pouring out of my paint brush!
pp: Have you ever done any shows? Are there other places where people can see your work?
alf: I do many Fine Art Fairs in the Midwest, some local gallery shows in Chicago and I am now also represented by The Dogs Gallery in California. They are producing limited edition giclee prints of many of my paintings in addition to selling originals.
I have also done commissioned public art projects here in Chicago. In 2001 I painted a full suite of fiberglass furniture titled Suite Chicago Dogs. It was displayed on Michigan Avenue that summer and was featured on many local and national news stations.
pp: You have such an unusual style! How did it develop?
alf: My subject matter and the way I paint have never been formally criticized so my naive style is more reflective of what I was drawn to as a young child: illustrations in books - Babar, Snoopy, Dr. Seuss, etc. My Dad had a poetry book called The Funniest Verses of Ogden Nash. It was filled with incredible illustrations by Seymour Chwast - I used to spend hours looking at the illustrations. I also spent every Sunday morning in a Catholic church staring endlessly at the stained glass windows.
My trademark borders come from a Commercial Art class from high school; I remember my teacher stating that "every good ad has a border around it" I started putting them around all my images, at the time thinking I would like to become a commercial artist.
pp: Which part of your work do you find most rewarding - the pieces for sale or the commissioned work?
alf: It really depends; lately it's harder for me to do "my own" work because I have so many commission orders. So I am thrilled when I come up with something new, but at the same time it is really fun to work with customers and find out all the sweet details about their dog. I love to capture a dog's personality with a painting, and it's such a wonderful memory piece for the owners.
pp: You've donated a great deal of work to charity. Which charities have you donated to?
alf: Among many, the animal organizations include: Chicago Canine Rescue Organization, The Anti-cruelty Society in Chicago, Treehouse Animal Foundation, Harmony House, PAWS LA, The Brittany Foundation and L.I.F.E. Animal Rescue of Agoura Hills.
pp: Tell us about the California Dogs chair - how long did it take to create?
alf: Ron Finley, owner of the Dogs Gallery in Westlake Village, CA saw photos of the fiberglass furniture suite I had painted here in Chicago in 2001, he contacted the furniture manufacturer and had them deliver two chairs to my studio. I only had about 10 days to paint them: "California Dogs" which show cased dogs in different California scenes: next to the Golden Gate Bridge, In the Wine Country, Flying over the Desert to name a few. The other Chair, "Izzy in LA" had scenes of Izzy surfing, flying over the Hollywood Hills, shopping on Rodeo Drive etc. They were both shipped to California and unveiled at the grand opening of the Gallery in September of last year. "Izzy in LA" was put up for auction and raised $1000 for two Los Angeles area animal foundations. The other chair is still available for sale at the Gallery.
pp: Why do you think high-end art with a dog theme - particularly more abstract pieces like yours (also George Rodrigue, for example) - have become increasingly popular?
alf: We seek peace and happiness in an uncertain world, our pets bring us so much joy and comfort and families are having fewer children or none, so their pets become central to their universe. People want to surround themselves with things that make them feel good in their homes and make them smile.
pp: What plans do you have for the future?
alf: I will continue to do art fairs and commissioned pet portraits as well as adding more national and international collectors via my Ebay Auctions. The Dogs Gallery is experimenting with making silk scarves and ties with my designs as well as upholstered furniture. I am also seeking licensing representation so I'm sure there are many wonderful things ahead for Izzy and I. Stay tuned!
pp: Tell us a little about your dog(s).
alf: Dogs are like people; they make the occasional mistake. Sitting on the forbidden chair, jumping out the window (4 times!), eating 6 mini loaves of banana bread, sticks of butter and stealing other dogs' toys just to name a few. But they are also more friendly, more loving and always happy to see you. One soulful glance from my dog and my heart melts. I talk to her constantly and she is always cracking me up. Even when I'm sad, she licks the tears from my face. These paintings are reflections of her daily goofy life... which gives me my daily dose of happiness.
For complete information regarding Anne's art, visit www.annesart.com.