Leighanna Light

Q+A with Leighanna Light

Leighanna Light is a favorite here in Northern Colorado, with her fun approach to creating mixed media work. She’ll be teaching in Fort Collins September 8-10, 2017. Early bird registration ends on July 31.

What’s your favorite new-to-you tool or supply from the past year?
Um, leaves. Seriously, I learned eco dyeing & developed a method of printing on metal, it’s all that I can think about!

How many hours a day do you work on your art?
Between art & teaching, 6-10 hours a day.

Tell us about your studio practice
I go into my studio & make stuff whenever I possibly can! I listen to music or audio books, Lily, my dog, has a bed next to my work table where she sleeps. Our neighbor has sheep, I can see them from my studio window and I am often distracted, especially this time of year when they have babies.

What makes for a great day in a workshop you’re teaching?
Watching students discover happy accidents, learning new things & being proud of what they created.

What 5 items do you always have with you when taking or teaching a workshop?
Gesso, a metal punch, antiquing glaze, Adirondack re-inkers, nuts & bolts.

Do you make art on the go? Tell us about your “go bag”.
I used to travel with a journal, gesso, watercolor crayons & pencils, but I was often too busy teaching to work in my journal. So I started leaving it at home & now I feel much less guilty!

Who are some of your favorite artists, living or otherwise?
Bill Skrips, Mikel Robinson, Morgan Brig, Geoffrey Gorman, Pat Chapman, Albie Smith, Tory Brokenshire, Misty Lindsey, Jesse Reno, Diane Arbus…..

What’s your favorite work of your own? Will you share a photo?
It’s a piece that I just finished, it’s called “What are you hiding?”

What’s your favorite part about teaching workshops?
I really love all of it, even packing kits! I especially love connecting with new people & sharing new ideas.

What’s your ideal workshop student?
Someone with an open mind, willing to try something new & not afraid to make a mistake. Wait, that sounds like a kinky dating ad!

If a student is new to the type of work you do, what would you tell him or her before registering for your workshop?
Come ready to learn with an open mind.

If you’ve taught in Northern CO before, what’s your favorite thing about teaching here?
Seeing you & hitting the wonderful junk shops in Loveland. Sorry, can’t remember any of the names!

Of the workshops you’re teaching this year, which is your favorite? Which do you predict will be our favorite?
Surface Design on Metal is a brand-new workshop that I’m so excited about teaching! Taught it for the first time in Albuquerque a few weeks ago, the students work was to die for & I can’t wait to do it again!

Do you have any surprises in store? Can you give us a hint?
Yes. Brown.

Do you still have the first piece of art you ever made? What do you think when you look at it?
Yes, I think that I was a fool for not trading when someone who’s art I greatly admire offered!

What’s your favorite word?

When you’re not making art or teaching, what do you do for fun?
Kayaking, hiking and camping, but making art & teaching is mostly what I do for fun!

Just some of the books that were created during the Archivist's Relic

Recap: Leighanna Light Workshops 2015

(l-r) Cindi, Leighanna, Tracey, Dixie and Colleen during the Guardians of the Discarded workshop.

We didn’t stop laughing for three whole days.

Leighanna Light did not disappoint during her visit to Northern Colorado on September 17-18-19. We had an outstanding time painting, texturing, sewing, cutting, building and etching…we didn’t want it to end!

On Thursday, we started around 9:30 am and went until 8:30 pm for Venetian Surfaces: Plaster, Wax & Canvas Deck. It was a long class, one that Leighanna usually teaches in a day and a half, but Susan, Karen, Marcia, Lynn and I ended up with such yummy decks that we thought it was totally worth the “sacrifice” of having an 11-hour day. Leighanna always tends to find the most amazing products at the hardware store that help kick up one’s art just that one more notch, to borrow a phrase, and her finds this year were no less impressive than in previous years. No, I’m not going to give away Leighanna’s secrets…you need to learn directly from the master!

Just some of the books that were created during the Archivist's Relic
Just some of the books that were created during the Archivist’s Relic.

Friday, we created small books in the Archivist’s Relic. It was the same group as in Thursday’s class, so we were getting very comfortable with each other and super punchy, so there was a lot of hilarity. There was a slight wrinkle in the progress of the class, too, but Leighanna totally rolled with it, as did we all, and our skills at improvisation were pretty impressive! My favorite part of the workshop was that Leighanna created the book covers ahead of time so that we could spend more time on the techniques she was teaching, rather than on cutting and gluing canvas for the book cover, not to mention letting the book cover glue dry!

Memorable Quotes
of the Weekend

“That’s what she said.”

“The more texture…(long pause)…the more texture.”

“Usually students are more polite.”

“Bring it over here and read it to me.”

“I was highstepping!”

“When you go out drinking with Karen, bring rope. That’s all I need to say.”

“Keep your hands off my signatures.”

“It has the fizz, you don’t bring the fizz.”

“I think you need to put a quarter in the jar just for what you’re thinking.”

The most anticipated class, Guardians of the Discarded, was on Saturday and we learned how to make an “eclectic free standing figurative assemblage.” See photos below of just some of the sculptures made that day. Personally, I am most pleased with my work from Saturday when I look at what I created on all three days. I’ve never built a sculpture like this and I’m excited to see what I can do using my newfound skills. I tend to be afraid of power tools, but I love that Leighanna pushes us to rely less on glue and to use drilled holes, wire, nails, screws and other items to build. The look is just…better, somehow.

As usual, my personal favorite part of Leighanna’s classes, besides the fact that she’s a great teacher and has a wonderful laugh, is discovering what she puts in her class kits. The girl finds the most interesting objects to include in her kits and I am ashamed to say that I have hoarded elements from her kits for years. Next time I’ll need to take a photo of her kit so that you can see all of the amazing things she includes. Leighanna is really something else.

I bet you’re dying to join us next year, aren’t you? 🙂 Thank you, Leighanna, for a wonderful three days of arting and escaping from daily life. We look forward to what you have in store for us next time!



Q+A with Leighanna Light

If someone took one of your workshops and had never done mixed media or assemblage before, what would you tell her before she began?

I would remind them that they are there to have fun, to meet like minded people, to learn and try new techniques, and not to stress about the final outcome. I encourage new students to stay open and let go of any expectations about the workshop. I tell them that there really are no mistakes that they cannot fix, and that it is impossible to screw up. To keep their eyes open for happy accidents. To try new techniques, but then pick and choose what they love, and focus on that, rather than struggling with a technique that they don’t like or isn’t working for them.

You’re a favorite of our local mixed media artists and have been here numerous times — What’s your favorite thing about teaching in Northern Colorado?

I love the clean air, the gorgeous mountains and the cool weather. The abundance of art galleries, antique stores and the cool vibe in Loveland and Fort Collins. For selfish reasons, I love the fact that CO is close enough to drive, just a short 6 hour drive from Taos, that I can pack as much crap in my car as I want, and don’t have to worry about weight limits on my bags! I also love that I am able to spend time with wonderful friends that I am not able to see very often.

When you visit NoCo, do you have any special shops where you like to stop in and browse?

The number one stop on my list is always Les Sunde’s shop in Fort Collins, Swamp Gas & Gossamer.

There are 4 or 5 antique shops in Loveland that I always visit, but can’t remember the name of any of them! And there are always great exhibits at the Loveland Museum.
Last year I discovered the Mishawaka, a beautiful concert venue right on the river where I saw Conor Oberst.

What should a new-to-you artist expect from one of your workshops?

My workshops are laid back and relaxed. There are no rules or mistakes & there is nothing that you can screw up….yes, reader of my words, even you!
My workshops are like a buffet at an AA meeting. I offer a plethora of techniques, tips & tricks, you can take what you want & leave the rest!
I do not teach cookie cutter workshops where everyone makes the same project & each piece looks exactly the same. Even though we are all using same basic supplies, the end result is wildly different for everyone.
I like to play music, giggle a lot, tell stories and laugh! The most important thing for me is to make the class fun & make sure people enjoy whatever it is that they are working on.

Of the workshops you’re teaching this September, which is your favorite? Which do you predict will be our favorite?

I swear that I am not trying to be politically correct when I say this, but I love all of them for different reasons. They are all so different! I love to teach people how to create beautiful surfaces with plaster, gesso & ink. I love walking people through the problem solving aspect of assemblage, and bookmaking is just so satisfying in the end.

When I am at home working on my own art, I love the variety and I don’t think that I could ever just focus on one thing, I guess this is why I don’t really have a favorite. When I am making assemblages, I am in my head a lot & doing a lot of problem solving. I spend a lot of time arranging objects, solving attachment issues and staring at my work! Nothing looks right until after I assemble all of the parts, but then it all comes together beautifully at the end.

When I get tired of being in my head so much, I move on to surface design, which is more ethereal, meditative & free form. I don’t have to put much thought into what I’m doing, I just enjoy the process & being in the moment with the mediums & textures until I come up with something that I really love.

It’s the same with bookmaking, sewing the book is the brain work, but I love spending time playing with paint & gesso to create the pages.

Do you have any surprises in store? Can you give us a hint?


No… the word is “surprise”, right?!

How do you differentiate your work from that of other assemblage instructors?

I guess I am more of a purist. I don’t often alter the found objects that I use in my work, even though I absolutely love that look and so appreciate the talent that it takes to work in that way. I use found objects that I love, either because of the memories that they invoke, or because of the beautiful colors, patinas & textures and I just can’t bring myself to alter them.

And I almost never use glue, I try to find a more secure way of attaching things.

Do you still have the first piece of art you ever made? What do you think when you look at it?

I don’t have the first piece of art that I ever made, I don’t even remember it, but I do have the first assemblage that I ever made hanging on the wall above my computer.
When I look at it, I think “What were you thinking? You’ve come a long way baby!!!”
That said, I can’t seem to let it go.

A few years ago I invited Jesso Reno, an extremely talented painter, out to Albuquerque to teach a workshop. When he came to my house, he saw this assemblage & asked me if I wanted to trade it for one of his paintings. I was so honored…and stunned that he was interested, but I just couldn’t do it!

To fully appreciate this, you have to understand that Jesse is god to me! I love his work so much, I have 3 or 4 of his paintings hanging in my studio. His 3 day class was one of the best workshops I’ve ever taken & on top of all of this, he is such a great person.

What do you wish I had asked you in this interview?

After a nine hour drive home from Art Unraveled yesterday, I wish you had asked me if I’d like to take a nap. Someone- anyone- please give me permission to take a nap!!!!!

What’s your favorite word?

My latest favorite word is “perspective”. Several months ago, I was in Bryce Canyon photographing the rock formations. I noticed how even moving the camera a half inch offered an entirely different perspective. It’s been a rough year, and I try to apply this to life events. I find that when I shift my perspective ever so slightly, my whole attitude & emotional frame of mind can change drastically in an instant.

And “kerfluful”


Leighanna – You have permission to take a nap, after all, you live in the Land of Mañana! But seriously, we cannot wait to see you in September and the surprises you have in store for us! Thanks for the interview and we look forward to your workshops this fall. 

Do you have a question you’d like to ask future workshop instructors? If so, please email your questions or comment below!

Student work from our Faux Etching class with Leighanna Light in September 2014.

leighanna light weekend recap

Growing up, I saved all sorts of “treasures” in my desk drawers. Usually they were things I found on the side of the road when I was riding my bike — cool rocks, a funky piece of metal, broken jewelry, things that sparkled…the list could go on and on.

I’m sure my mom was amused (though I was very organized in the way I stored my collections), if she even noticed. I do know, though, that my “saving” habit was annoying to my sisters (we shared a room) and over the years, I lugged my treasures back and forth across the country, from apartment to apartment, more times than I want to count. To this day, I’m the one with the treasures all over my home, but my sister dislikes the “cluttered” look and is always paring down her belongings.

In discovering Leighanna Light, Michael deMeng, and other fabulous found object artists, I have found my kindred spirits. It was super cool during the Leighanna Light weekend to sit there at Masonville Artists’ Studio and watch other artists sharing doodads and ooohing and aaaahing over a bunch of rusty crap.

rusty stuff
Seriously. This pile of rusty stuff was brought by a new member of our group. Nakita has been saving rusty things for what seems like years, and she brought a huge bag of things for everyone to pick through and use. It was awesome.

Personally, I’m still recovering from our weekend of thingmaking with Leighanna, even though it’s been a couple of weeks now. It feels so wonderful to take old discards and turn them into something completely new and weird and beautiful. We spent three days cutting and hammering metal, texturizing and adding color to canvas, etching and rusting metal, and the results were stunning.

Leighanna Quote of the Weekend: “After you sand the back of your head, make a hole on your leg.”

Leighanna, as always, is a delightful instructor and she is fun to learn from. I’ve taken many of her classes over the years and found that they have become finetuned, organized, and inspiring experiences. If you’re going to take a metal class with her, though, definitely bring your earplugs and be prepared to get dirty. It’s also smart to be ready to learn a lot in these workshops, including things you hadn’t planned on…Like all about the quirky habits of chickens!

Thank you, Leighanna, for coming to see us! I know you’ve inspired me to think differently about some of the stuff I’ve rescued over the years. 🙂

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”1″ gal_title=”Leighanna Light workshops – 2014″]

Weekend Notes

Leighanna gets a lot of her stencils from Stencil Girl. They also have a monthly club, which appears to be a really neat deal!

This got us talking about other companies that have monthly clubs:

Other supplies and places to get them:

Who is Lily, anyway?

Out of curiosity, I asked Leighanna Light who was the “Lily” in the title of the workshop “Lily’s Book.” So glad I did…look at this face! Here’s what Leighanna wrote:


This is Lily! I worked on this book class for about 2 months straight right after we got her, she was right by my side the entire time, usually covered with lace & fabric! I felt that I at least should name the class after her!

If you haven’t seen the sample photos of the book we’ll be making on September 27,  definitely visit the website and check them out! Here is the front cover of Lily’s Book.

Lily's Book, by Leighanna Light
Lily’s Book

Leighanna Light Workshop Registration is OPEN!

Faux Etching with Leighanna LightLeighanna Light is coming to our neck of the woods in September. “Oh, that’s so far away, Tracey! How can we wait that long?” is what you may be saying. What I say is that this will give us all plenty of time to dig through our stashes of metal, embellishments, and collect our STUFF because these workshops all have deliciously chunky supply lists. We are going to make birds and this amazing canvas book and we are going to etch metal without all of that messy toxic stuff!

You are going to love these classes.

Birds Gone Wild with Leighanna LightNow, don’t let the supply lists scare you off because Leighanna has class kits that include doodads and use of her tools and consumables. Also, don’t forget our freebie tables that are full of doodads and whirlygigs that will be fun to sift through when you need to get up and stretch during class.

Lily's Book with Leighanna LightSome supplies, such as the heavyweight canvas and venetian plaster for Lily’s Book, might be best purchased and split among class takers.  When folks start signing up, we’ll discuss and make arrangements to “co-op” some of the supply purchases. Stay tuned for that info.

And on a related note, we will soon have a car pool page on this site, which many of you have requested. Watch this blog for an announcement in the next week or so (as soon as I have a chance to finish testing the thing). It will definitely be ready in time for you all to arrange shared rides for the Kelly Kilmer weekend.