Leah Durner‘s abstract paintings in oil, gouache, and poured enamel were the inspiration behind her colorful new collaboration collection with west elm. We love her eye-popping vibrancy and post-Warholian pop sensibilities. So we took a look inside Leah’s studio to learn more about what inspires her, and her daily practice as a working artist in New York City.
What inspires you?
My primary inspiration is the vibrancy and density of New York City and its amazing inspiring people! I am also inspired by the athleticism, physical daring, and psychedelic color and design of surfer and skateboard culture. I have had a strong interest in film, fashion, music, history, philosophy, and design since I was a child, so all of these sources have built a tremendously rich treasure house of material that I can reference!
Tell us a little about your studio space.
My studio is in my home and my perfect day is getting up in the morning, going right into the studio with my coffee and diving in! I need solitude and quiet for my work. This balances (and is nourished by) the stimulation and noise of the city. I also work in museums, drawing from antique sculpture as a practice to maintain my drawing skills and focus. I primarily work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – one of the great resources of New York. Drawing from sculpture is a traditional and grounding practice.
What is your studio practice like?
First and always I build my personal color library and maintain my technical skills and focus by drawing, which is also a kind of meditation. I always have my eyes open for surprising combinations of color and surface and take notes and photographs for my personal inspiration library. My paintings may be based on the colors I see on graffitied trucks, a construction site, a major fashion designer’s collection, street signs, etc. Everything and everyone I see is a source!
In the studio I spend a great deal of time mixing color…my primary concern and where the main decisions are made. When I pour the paint for the poured enamels it is very active and physical and I need to stay totally focused—there is an element of accident involved as to how the colors flow into each other and the final painting always surprises me!
Images: west elm