Be Open to Art

Today’s artist to watch is Christie Leonard.

A senior at Marple Newtown High School, Christie is actively involved in the arts at Community Arts Center. I recently sat with Christie to discuss work from a class she’s been attending for several years, building architectural models, and I really learned a lot about the process.  I’d like to share some of her insights on it with you.

On building an architectural model, Christie said you need to determine the style of building you want to create.  Determining the style is good way to begin during the conception stage of original designs that do not mimic preexisting buildings precisely. When designing original models, she uses several reference images and pulls details from existing structures such as roof style, door and entry way design, and siding texture, to bring the piece together. Her work is influenced by various architectural periods and styles. You cannot always combine every style, but some of her favorites to draw from are the half-timbering and window styles of Victorian England, ornate Celtic knots for embellishment, Lord of the Rings structures, and terra-cotta Spanish tiles which can be made from corrugated cardboard. Having an architectural reference guide on hand is extremely useful, but there’s nothing like visiting a real structure to get an idea to reproduce a certain piece of a building. She added that the Arts Center itself is a great area for inspiration with its stonework, courtyard tiles, and step-gabled roof.  Some of Christie’s models include an English cottage, a pagoda, a tea house and a temple.

On materials used for building an architectural model , she said every day household items we may just toss in the trash like water bottle caps, cereal boxes, even shells or rocks, can make a fine brick walk or chimney.  Use your imagination and repurpose items if you can.

On hazards of building architectural models, Christie cautions that you can get blisters from carving and sanding woodwork and maybe a hot glue burn.  A large work surface is also needed and since you may be making models in your spare time like she does (some of her more intricate pieces like her temple have taken 2 years), you may want to set up shop in a garage and not on a dining room table.

Christie enjoys art as a hobby and she doesn’t stop at just building architectural models.  She’s also tried her hand at bookbinding, crocheting, animal sculpture, pottery on the wheel, jewelry, origami, drawing and painting.

Check out Christie’s blog for progress on some of her work.

I think it’s fantastic that Christie is open to all types of arts experiences. I’ve tried a few different classes myself and really enjoyed them.  Have you taken up a new art hobby?  Tell us about your experience.


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