Interview: Dreaming Art with Lee Ahlskog

Lee Ahlskog is an artist and designer based in Kansas, exploring the relationship between shape and color in her oil paintings and digital work.

Who are you?

A daughter, a sister, a friend, a soul, a designer and artist. Someone who is enraptured by nature, has a passion for the arts and is always up for an agreeable adventure.

Why do you paint?

I paint to dream and I dream to paint. It’s a way for me to process my surroundings and imagine new ones.

Is art essential to your wellbeing?

I’d say so. I feel in total harmony when I’m designing and painting. I definitely would classify myself as someone who is sensitive so painting is a bit cathartic. If I could write, I’d be a poet.

How long have you known you were an artist?

From the start. Art was always my favourite class in school and I had some truly impressionable art teachers growing up. My parents also fully supported it. Growing up, it helps when you have others believe in you.

Did you train as an artist?

Yes but primarily in graphic design. I received a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. Painting was a total accident a couple years after that fact. I sought out a few mentors, just enough to get me running and then everything from there has been self taught.

Was it easy for you to begin sharing your work?

Oh no. That was honestly the hardest part for me. My designs were really simple and I was afraid people wouldn’t find my work as ‘real’ or ‘authentic.’ All it took was sharing one to realise I had a false narrative in my mind.

Do you view it as abstract?

Oh, totally. Abstract, simplified, refined…

What inspires you?

Nature has always been my biggest inspiration. I love the moon and the pink sunrise. I love vast landscapes and being awed by creation. I love the shapes of rocks and the flow of rivers. I think these things pulse through my veins so I’m not surprised that it’s what my hands like to paint.

Do you feel any concern that people might not react to your art well or understand it?

There’s a quote by Claude Monet that I feel sums up my answer best: “Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

Do you consciously create or is it more intuitive?

Half and half. When I draft up the design, it’s completely intuitive. When I paint it’s the complete opposite, consciously making decisions. There are spontaneous painters and then there is me! But really, I like to have a plan going into the painting.

Do you feel creating art is a spiritual act or something more physical?

Definitely both. Perhaps I lean more towards the spiritual side of things, in general and in art. Creating teaches me a lot about my creator.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

The colours are right, the lines are where I want them, the composition is balanced. And if it’s not, I’ll redo it until it is.

What has making art taught you about life?

The ability to make, mark, brush, scrap, sand, rework. Seeing mistakes and learning from them. Fixing the past ones and making new ones. Starting anew each morning.