The Pen Ya Project by Roseanne Peña

Houston Artist: Lee E. Wright

In Artiste: Illumination on August 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Lee E. Wright is straight-up a numbers-by-day guy and realist artist by night. Although his career is in finance, he pushes the envelope of creativity to a nth degree that isn’t really in my vocabulary. We can often joke about how many hours of sleep we receive in a given few days and I always win with more hours – depending which way you look at the time. His style – often misjudged- isn’t photocopying with any tools like photoshop or projection. It’s a hardcore, artistic, eye-ballin’ talent – raw…take a gander!

Artiste Illumination: Lee Wright

What is your earliest inclination to art?
I can’t quite tell you when my passion for art started. I can tell you that it has been a life-long affair. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting around drawing from sun up to sundown. I’d wake up and draw and draw and draw. I’d draw the same picture on the wall ‘a million times’. I drew everything I could from magazines – just anything and everything…binders full…until college.

Do you have a passion for any other art?
My art span ranges from fine art, music, theatre –everything. I’m a little more into ‘hands on’ visual art. I’m really into sculpture. I got into college with a sculpture scholarship but I can’t seem to find the time, space, or the patience to work with it anymore. Now I just focus on paints but I am interested in culinary arts…because it feels good in my belly.

Do you have any formal training?
I’ve really been painting for close to 18 years – like most people I took art classes when I was young. It started with art teachers… ‘ok, we’re going to learn about painting…use your tempura today, use your watercolor today, now it’s oil, now it’s acrylic’…everything. It was a ‘you have to paint’ and it wasn’t ‘you yearn to paint’ feeling. With that, I began to explore the world of paint, sculpture, and print making. I instantly gravitated towards clay work and really focused all of my energy in creating sculpture. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I really got into painting. Now, I’d rather not do anything else.

Is anyone in your family considered or consider themselves an artist?
No…I am the first but my daughter is quite the little creator of abstract work. Her only problem is she also wants to eat the paint.

What is your work experience in the art field, if any?
I have no work experience in the art field. In fact, I am actually in finance and have been my entire career.

What is your experience the realm of arts?
When I was in school, I participated in several local and some national exhibitions and contests with my sculptures. After I graduated from college, I took a break to focus on my career and this is when I started painting to keep from going completely insane. I was never quite confident of my skill as a painter so I mostly kept it to myself until a few years ago when a friend asked me to paint a picture for him. Since then I have had many people approach me to work commissions for them. I now have paintings hanging in many private residences and some businesses as well.

I only started showing my work publicly again this year because of the encouragement of a new found friend and have since participated in about four group shows. Most recently was “Sweaty,Sultry, Sandy…an art happening by Tra Slaughter” Right now, I have two more group shows on my calendar before the end of the year and I am about to start working with another local artist on a duo show.

Every artist has a specific medium they favor – what is yours? Is there any other medium you are looking to explore?
The medium that is most conducive to my current body of work is acrylic. I have tried just about every traditional medium out there and I don’t really wish to explore at this time. However, I’m sure as my work grows in complexity and skill I may call upon another medium to keep me cursing.

What kind of topics or subjects do you find yourself discovering in your art?
I wouldn’t really call it discovering as I am a meticulous planner. Most of my current paintings deal with dark social issues that I contrast with either beauty or bright and playful colors. In my creative work, I really try to mask the underlying meaning in order to keep the observer engaged and slightly uneasy without knowing why they feel that way.

What inspires you to create?
That is one of the best and hardest questions ever posed to me. I don’t know if it is inspiration that I feel. It is definitely a burning desire that comes from deep within. I cannot stop thinking about art. I cannot stop thinking about the piece I’m currently working on. I cannot stop thinking about the next piece I will work on or the one after that. For me it seems to be more of a driving force – a train that cannot be stopped.

Do you work based on a theme or a stream of consciousness?
I feel stream of consciousness painters are more abstract – they can literally ‘turn off’ the brain. I’ve spoken to abstract painters and they say “it just happens…I pick my brush and pick my palette, stare at the canvas and however long later…it’s done”. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to let go and just let the paint flow and let my unconscious consciousness take over. It’s part of my personality to work based on a well thought out theme and plan for execution.

Let’s talk about the creative process on this piece of art.

“Modern Servitude”

My art lends itself to a ‘posterization’ style. I do use the ‘posterization technique’ to add texture to my work but I consider what I do an ‘offshoot’ of realism.

Modern Servitude starts with…bottomline…she’s a prostitute.  She’s a sex slave. It’s a social issue because you hear it on the news in America – it’s everywhere in the world. The fact that you can’t see her face represents…facelessness…the acts of slavery and prostitution.. You can see the red light in the window that shows it is both warm outside and she’s inviting people in. The colors are a little dark – all blue…cold. She’s lost her soul. She’s sad.

Do you have a favorite place to brainstorm? What’s that place like?
My favorite place to develop ideas is when I am standing in front of a canvas painting. I may be working on one painting but I am thinking of the next five. This all goes down in my studio…eh…garage and that place is a mess! 

What is your vision regarding your work? Hopes?
My vision and hopes seem to be synonymous. That is to be successful enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle doing what I enjoy…painting.

What are your thoughts on highbrow vs. lowbrow art?
I really don’t like either term when describing art. Good art is good art no matter what label you put on it, where it is shown, what style it is, who creates it, or how much it sells for.

View Lee’s  work via http://leewrightart.com/ or vist him on Facebook.

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