SKETCHING AWAY STRESS WITH ARTIST, LEONIE PSILLIS
In partnership with @theheraseries
While juggling life’s responsibilities we can often forget that we need and deserve downtime and self-care. A feature of human psychology is that we can harbor within us many selves and we look to art to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of the different aspects of our personality.
Taking even a few minutes on a regular basis to devote to art therapy can help to have a positive impact on your mood. Emerging artist, Leonie Psillis is passionate about female empowerment and promoting self-love through her art project, The Hera Series. Working across a number of media including painting, drawing and sculpture, Leonie draws inspiration from the fluidity of the human form and the bonds between the body, intimacy, diversity, love and loss.
A Q&A with Leonie Psillis
Did your ability to create art come naturally to you?
I feel like I was always a creative, ever since I was little I took art classes but after school I went straight into the corporate world and didn’t have an opportunity to express myself. It really wasn’t until I was in my adult years where I found the space and time to get the paintbrushes out and see what I was capable of. I had to make space for it in my life.
What advice would you offer to a beginner looking to create art to reduce stress or cultivate self expression?
Don’t focus on technique, just let things flow and don’t buy expensive materials. Use your hands to feel the texture of materials, go wild and you’ll find your groove. Anything you create this way will be authentically you and your own style. If you feel like you want a technique, there are so many community programs too. I find my art grows with my experiences.
Your work can be spotted across IG feeds, displayed in lust-worthy homes and most recently, on phone cases. Your work is loved by many, what prompted you to begin illustrating in the first place?
I wanted to pass the time at work, I was always a doodler and I would always come back to the same shape and lines and I didn’t know what it was that I was creating but I couldn’t stop. It was my outlet.
It wasn’t for years later that I started really getting into it. I really admire my cousin and one day I was having a conversation with her and she was feeling really down on herself, she was so gorgeous and I never thought that someone like her could have these negative feelings towards herself and that’s where I found my calling, I wanted to empower the woman around me to accept who they are through my art.
When things in your life are going badly, how can creating art help?
Art allows me to just focus on what’s in front of me and everything else blends into the background. It also helped to realize that the things that were bothering me weren’t as big as I thought and concentrating on art just helps me to calm down.
How do you mentally ‘get in the zone’ before starting a new artwork?
I actually start with a basic texta (from my kids) and I squiggle shapes and lines, over and over again, stretching my wrists and repeating the process. I find that by doing this I see new shapes and ways of reinventing the body, a new angle that I may not have touched on before, I call them my wild crazy lines, I really love it and they’re my warm ups.
What is it about the female form that inspires you so much?
I love the beauty, I’m inspired by the women in my life and most of the women I draw on paper doesn’t depict the body shape in front of me- they take on a life of their own because when I’m drawing I incorporate an element of female strength that you don’t see on the outside. We’re all so powerful, we’re machines and we’re so capable. I want to honor that because it is still so undervalued.
What self-doubts have you had as an artist and what strategies can you recommend overcoming these?
The main self-doubt that comes up from time to time is whether others will like my work and you do need to be more resilient when you’re putting your work out there to the public but I have a great community that lift me up. I think it’s important to be authentic and to maintain your authentic self when you’re creating art, the rest really doesn’t matter. Your artwork will come naturally to you this way.
For someone wanting to begin creating artwork, where can they find inspiration?
A lot of my work is inspired by the greats (Matisse and da Vinci) and there are so many amazing Australian artists that I am discovering through social media lately. Your explore page is a great way to start. You can also look to your environment and draw inspiration from the things that make you happy or feel some kind of emotion in areas of your life
To view Leonie’s artwork and read all about her journey as an artist, visit @theheraseries